The Five Books of Moses are divided into 54 portions. One portion (called a Parsha) is read every week so that the entire Torah is completed in a year. On certain weeks two portions are combined and read as one. For this week's Torah Portion click here
The Torah reading service begins when a member of the congregation is given the honor of opening the Ark and taking out the Torah, with much respect and ceremony. The Torah is then taken to the podium (Bimah), which is situated in the center of the sanctuary. On the occasion when it is necessary to read two or three different portions, two or three scrolls may be taken from the Ark. One or two additional members of the congregation are then honored with carrying the additional Torah Scrolls to the podium.
As the Torah Scroll passes by, members of the congregation kiss it as a sign of love and respect.
Said Rabbi Shimon [bar Yochai]:
"When the Congregation takes out the Scroll of the Torah to
read in it, the Heavenly Gates of Mercy are opened, and G‑d's love is aroused."
Thus, the opening of the Ark and taking out the Torah
to read is a very special time, a time of Heavenly mercy and love, when our
prayers are especially acceptable.