Do we literally read the entire Torah in one year, starting on Simchat Torah?

Answered by
Rabbi Victor S. Appell

Yes. We read the entire Torah TorahתּוֹרָהLiterally “instruction” or “teaching.” The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy); the handwritten scroll that contains the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Also called the Pentateuch and The Five Books of Moses. “Torah” is also used to refer to the entire body of Jewish religious teachings and insight.  over a year, beginning the cycle on the same week as Simchat Torah. The Torah is divided into 54 portions – or parashiyotParashahפָּרָשָׁהTorah portion. The five books of the Torah are divided into 54 parashiyot or portions. Each week, Jewish communities read one parashah (singular of parashiyot); in this way, Jewish communities read the entire Torah over the course of a year.  Depending on the calendar, some weeks will feature a “double-portion.” The name of each portion is taken from the first few significant words of the portion; plural: parashiyot  – and, generally, one portion is read each week on Shabbat. (Some congregations read parts of the weekly portion on Monday and Thursday, in addition to reading it on Shabbat.) When a Jewish Holiday falls on Shabbat, a special Torah portion is read. Since there are more portions than there are weeks, there are times during the year when a double-portion will be read. There are seven pairs of portions that may be combined over the course of the year so that all fifty-four portions are read.

Some temples follow a schedule of reading an entire portion on Shabbat over a period of three years: the first third is read the first year, the second is read the next year, and the third is read in last third on the third year. The selection for each of those years is called the triennial reading.

See also, regarding Passover Torah portions: Why do we read this week’s Torah portion over two different weeks?