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Why were Torah readings established for Mondays and Thursdays?

by Rabbi Simcha Bart

  

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Question:


Why did Ezra prescribe Torah reading on Monday and Thursdays and not other days? Much interested to know, Chaim


Answer:


The Talmud (Bava Kama 82a) says that three days should never pass without a public Torah reading. Thus, we read the Torah on Shabbat, then skip a day and read it on Monday, then skip two days and read it again on Thursday, then two days later it is Shabbat once again.

The commentators in the Talmud add that the choice of Monday and Thursday have additional significance to since when Moses received the second set of Tablets he ascended Mount Sinai on the last Monday in the Jewish month of Av and came down on Thursday, 10 Tishrei (which is also Yom Kippur).


From the time of Moses, only three verse were read corresponding to the three types of people in the Jewish nation: Kohen, Levite and Israelite. Later, in the 4th century BCE, Ezra and the Men of the Great Assembly, lengthened the Monday and Thursday readings to include at least ten verses each for three Aliyot (of a Kohen, Levite and Israelite).


[Ed. note: Also read "What is the origin of the reading of the Torah in the synagogue?"


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Torah
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Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Levite
A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
Tishrei
The seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which arrives in early autumn, has more holidays than any other month: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Men of the Great Assembly
An institution of 120 rabbis who led the Jewish people at the onset of the Second Temple Era. They canonized the 24 books of the Bible and composed most of the prayers we have today. This institution lasted approximately 200 years.
Av
The fifth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to July-August. The saddest month of the year due to the destruction of the Temples, and the many other tragedies which befell the Jews in this month.
Ezra
1. A Hebrew priest and scribe, who, together with Nehemiah, revived Judaism in the 4th century BCE. He was instrumental in the building of the 2nd Temple. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which describes the events of Ezra's lifetime.
Aliyot
Plural form of Aliyah. The honor of being called up to the Torah scroll when the Torah is read is called an aliyah. The Shabbat Torah reading has seven principle aliyot (plus the maftir aliyah).