Askmoses-A Jews Resource
Why isn't there an effort underway to rebuild the Temple?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.

Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Click the button below to either CHAT LIVE with an AskMoses Scholar now - or - leave a message if no Scholar is currently online.


Can you summarize the fifty-four portions of the Torah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Shabbat » Reading of the Torah » Torah Reading | Subscribe | What is RSS?


 Bereishit (Genesis)

Bereishit: Creation in six days. The story of the Tree of Knowledge and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Cain slays Abel. Enumeration of the ten generations between Adam and Noah.

Noach (Noah): Noah and his family, along with at least one pair of each living species, survive the Flood by taking refuge in the Ark. The Tower of Babel incident causes the dispersal of all of Noah’s descendants. The birth of Abraham.    

Lech-Lecha:  Abraham and Sarah travel to Canaan. They descend to Egypt, where Pharaoh unsuccessfully attempts to add Sarah to his harem, and return to Canaan with great wealth. Abraham defeats the armies of the four kings, rescuing his nephew Lot who was taken hostage. G-d seals a pact with Abraham, wherein the lands of Canaan are bequeathed to Abraham’s descendents. Childless Abraham marries Hagar and giving birth to Ishmael. At the age of 99, Abraham is circumcised. 

Vayeira: Angels visit Abraham and Sarah, informing them that they would have a child. The angels whisk Lot out of Sodom, and overturn the entire region. Isaac is born, and Ishmael is expelled from Abraham’s household. The story of the “Binding of Isaac” -- Isaac’s “near-sacrifice” experience.   

Chayei Sarah: Sarah dies. The marriage of Isaac and Rebecca. Abraham dies. 

Toldot: Jacob and Esau are born. The story of Isaac’s wells. Rebecca and Jacob successfully deceive Isaac, causing that Jacob receive the blessings which Isaac intended to give to Esau.  

Vayetze: Jacob travels to Aram to his uncle Laban. During his twenty two year stay there he shepherds Laban’s livestock, marries Leah and Rachel, and the first eleven tribes are born.

Vayishlach: Jacob and his family returns to Canaan. He is fearful of his brother Esau, but they finally meet and make peace. Jacob’s daughter Dinah is abducted and raped by Shechem. Shimon and Levi destroy the city of Shechem and free Dinah. Rachel dies while giving birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, Benjamin. Isaac dies. 

Vayeishev: Joseph’s dreams, his brother's hatred toward him, and his sale into slavery. Joseph is incarcerated in Egypt and interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker. A chronicling of the events between Judah and Tamar. 
Mikeitz: Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams at the behest of the cup-bearer. Joseph becomes viceroy over Egypt and implements his plan to save Eqypt from famine. Joseph meets his brothers when they come to Egypt to buy food, and demand that Benjamin be brought to Egypt. When Benjamin eventually comes, he is framed, so that it seems that he is a thief.

Vayigash: After Joseph demands that Benjamin remain in Egypt as his slave, Judah pleads with Joseph to take him instead. Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. At Joseph’s request, Jacob and his family come down to Egypt. 
Veyechi: Jacob blesses his own children and Joseph’s children. Jacob dies and a massive procession escorts him to his burial in Canaan. The book ends with Joseph's death.  

Shemot (Exodus)

Shemot:  The new Pharaoh issues harsh decrees against the Israelites, beginning decades of Jewish suffering and slavery. Moses is born and raised in the royal palace, from which he runs away after killing an Egyptian who was beating a Jew. He escapes to Midian, marries, and comes face-to-face with G-d (a.k.a. the burning bush), who demands that he return to Egypt as his messenger to redeem the Israelites. He goes back to Egypt with the intention of freeing the Jewish people.   

Va'era: Pharaoh refuses to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, even after Aaron miraculously transforms his staff into a serpent. The first seven plagues ensue: Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Pestilence, Boils, and Fiery Hail.  


Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).


Torah » The Bible » Five Books of Moses

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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.
Oral Law
G–d orally explained all the 613 Commandments to Moses. These explanations constitute the Oral Law.
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
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.
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Laws of Kosher (Jewish dietary laws).
1. Assumed the leadership of the Jewish people after Moses died in 1267 BCE. He split the Jordan River and led the Jewish people in their conquest of the Promised Land. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles Joshua's leadership.
Anti-Semitic tribe descendant from Esau; first to attack the Jews upon leaving Egypt. We are commanded to remember their vile deed and obliterate all memory of them.
[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.
Festive meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday of Passover (In Israel, the Seder is observed only the first night of the holiday). Seder highlights include: reading the story of the Exodus, eating Matzah and bitter herbs, and drinking four cups of wine.
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
First Jewess, first of the four Jewish Matriarchs, wife of Abraham--the first Jew. Lived in Mesopotamia, and then Canaan, in the 19th century BCE.
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
A loaf of bread. Usually refers to: 1) The section of dough separated and given to the priest (today that section is burnt). 2) The sweetened, soft bread customarily consumed at the Sabbath meals.
Second of the three Jewish Patriarchs, son of Abraham and Sarah. Lived in Canaan (Israel); b. 1712 BCE, d. 1532 BCE.
Rogue son of Patriarch Isaac and Matriarch Rebecca. Elder twin of Patriarch Jacob.
Second of the Jewish Matriarchs. Wife of the Patriarch Isaac, and father of Jacob. b. 1675 BCE, d. 1553 BCE.
Second son of Adam and Eve, born on the Sixth day of Creation. Murdered by his older brother Cain.
Brother of Moses. First High Priest of Israel and progenitor of all Kohanim (priests) until this very day. Died in the year 1272 b.c.e.
Third of the four Jewish matriarchs. Daughter of Laban, favorite wife of Patriarch Jacob, and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Died while giving birth to Benjamin in 1557 BCE.
Fourth of the four Jewish matriarchs. Elder daughter of Laban, wife of Patriarch Jacob, and mother of six of the Tribes, including Levi and Judah.
Son of the Patriarch Abraham and half-brother of Patriarch Isaac. Ancestor of many Arab tribes.
Tenth generation from Adam. Of all humankind, only he and his family survived the Flood which destroyed all civilization in the year 2106 BCE.
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
Eldest son of Adam and Eve, born on the sixth day of creation. When his brother Abel's sacrificial offering was accepted in place of his own, he killed him. He was exiled for this deed.
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."
The first book of the Five Books of Moses. It records the story of Creation and its aftermath, and chronicles the lives of the Patriarchs.
1. The fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He was blessed by Jacob to be the leader of the tribes. Consequently, the Davidic royal dynasty is from the tribe of Judah. 2. The southern part of Israel which was occupied by the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and always remained under the reign of the kings from the tribe of Judah.
Daughter of Leah and Jacob. She was abducted by Shechem, but was rescued through the heroism of her brothers Shimon and Levi
Firstborn son of Rachel and Jacob. Because he was Jacob's favorite son, his brothers conspired against him and sold him into slavery He ended up in Egypt where he became viceroy of the land, and eventually brought his entire family to Egypt. Died in 1451 BCE.
Rebecca's brother and father of Rachel and Leah. He deceived Jacob into marrying both of his daughters for the price of fourteen years of labor.
Red Heifer
A cow that was completely red. This cow was burned together with several ingredients, and its ash, mixed with water, was sprayed upon certain impure people in order to purify them.
Moses' father-in-law.
Older sister of Moses and Aaron, and a prophetess in her own right.
One of the spies sent by Moses to do reconnaissance on Canaan. Along with Joshua, and unlike the other ten spies, he gave a positive report.
Literally: the fringes which are attached to four cornered garments, as Biblically mandated. Normally this word refers to a t-shirt sized four cornered garment which contains such fringes, and is usually worn beneath the shirt.
Cousin of Moses, he led an uprising against him, objecting to the appointment of Aaron as High Priest. He and his followers were miraculously swallowed up by the earth.
King of Moab when the Israelites were heading towards Canaan. He employed Balaam, an immoral prophet and sorcerer, to curse the Israelites so they could be destroyed.
An evil sorcerer employed by the king of Moab to curse the Israelites as they were on the verge of entering Canaan. Although he desired to curse, G-d ensured that only blessings came from his mouth. He was eventually killed by the Israelites in the course of their battle against Midian.
Birkat Hamazon
Grace after Meals. A Biblically mandated prayer, consisting of four blessings, recited after eating more than an ounce of bread.
A woman suspected of adultery, with probable cause. She is taken to the Holy Temple and given a potion which causes her death if she is guilty of the sin.
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Mobile sanctuary which traveled with the Jews in the desert, containing the Ark with the Tablets, and the sacrificial altars. When the Jews entered Israel, it was erected in the city of Shiloh where it remained for more than 300 years. It was buried when the permanent Holy Temple was erected in Jerusalem.
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
The fifth of the Five Books of Moses. This book is a record of the monologue which Moses spoke to the Israelites in the five weeks prior to his passing.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
1. Name of Patriarch Jacob's third son. 2. A Levite -- a Jew who is a patrilineal descendant of Levi. Levites had special duties in the Holy Temple, and are still accorded special respect.
The most fundamental Jewish prayer, recited twice daily. This prayer, of Biblical origin, professes the belief in G-d's absolute unity.
The tithe given to the priest (descendant of Aaron) from certain crops. The tithe was approximately 2% of the harvest.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.