Sedarim

The Psalmist tells us that he hid the Almighty’s Word in his heart so that he would not sin against Him (Psalms 119:11). YHWH commanded Joshua to meditate on the Word day and night so that he would be successful in everything he did (Joshua 1:8). There are many more verses in Scripture that command us to read, meditate, study and obey the Scriptures.

To practically obey the command, the Jews worked out a method of study of Scripture so that the Torah (the first 5 books of Moses) and other portions of Scripture could be read systematically over a period of time. The practice was documented in the writings of Ben Sirach from about the 2nd century BC, and thus this practice existed at least 200 years before the coming of Yeshua.

In the times of Yeshua, the Jews of Israel seemed to have used the Triennial reading cycle, ie. they read through the Torah within 3 years. Some evidence of this can be culled from the fact that the Torah was divided in the Masoretic text into 154 passages (called sedarim) and if one seder is read every Sabbath, it takes about 3 years to finish the sedarim.

However, in Babylon (where most of the Jews lived since the first exile and until the rebirth of the modern State of Israel), it became more popular to use the Annual reading cycle, i.e. they read through the Torah within 1 year. This became the standard for most Jewry by the 12th century AD.

At MTC, we formerly used the Triennial Reading cycle, as the passages are shorter (about 1 to 2 chapters a week instead of 3 to 6 chapters), making for easier reading and more time for study, analysis and understanding of the text. Recently, we switched to the Annual cycle so as to be aligned with Orthodox Jewry around the world.

 

Moncy Mathew
Leader
Mishkan Torat Chaiim

(Tabernacle of the Living Word)