Seder ha-Mishmarah

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The Seder ha-Mishmarah is a study cycle devised by the Ben Ish Ḥai and used by some Jews of Near and Middle Eastern origin, for reading the whole of the Hebrew Bible and the Mishnah in the course of a year. It depends on the cycle of the weekly Torah portions read in the synagogue.

Some communities have a custom of public reading, whereby on each Shabbat afternoon the whole of the mishmarah for the following Shabbat is read out loud. In others, individuals use it as a basis for private study. The usual form of the cycle is set out in the table below.

Weekly Torah portion Neviim Ketuvim Mishnah
Bereshit, Gen. 1:1–6:8 Joshua 1-11 Psalms 1-11 Ḥagigah [1]
Noaḥ, Gen. 6:9-11:32 Joshua 12-19 Psalms 12-20 Kinnim [2]
Lekh Lekha, Gen. 12:1-17:27 Joshua 20-end Psalms 21-34 Ma'aserot [3] and Ma'aser Sheni [4]
Vayera, Gen. 18:1-22:24 Judges 1-11 Psalms 35-42 Pe'ah [5]
Ḥayye Sarah, Gen. 23:1-25:18 Judges 12-end Psalms 43-51 Kiddushin [6]
Toledot, Gen. 25:19-28:9 I Samuel 1-8 Psalms 52-65 Berakhot [7]
Vayetze, Gen. 28:10-32:3 I Samuel 9-13 Psalms 66-73 Ketubot [8]
Vayishlaḥ, Gen. 32:4-36:43 I Samuel 14-25 Psalms 74-79 Mo'ed Katan [9] and Horayot [10]
Vayeshev, Gen. 37:1-40:23 II Samuel 1-7 Psalms 80-90 Yevamot [11]
Mikketz, Gen. 41:1-44:17 II Samuel 8-18 Psalms 91-106 Mikva'ot [12]
Vayigash, Gen. 44:18-47:27 II Samuel 19-end Psalms 107-119 Kelim [13]
Vayeḥi, Gen, 47:28-50:26 I Kings 1-6 Psalms 120-136 Bekhorot [14]
Shemot, Ex. 1:1-6:1 I Kings 7-10 Psalms 137-150 Ta'anit [15] and Megillah [16]
Va'era, Ex. 6:2-9:35 I Kings 11-19 Job 1-6 Makkot [17]
Bo, Ex. 10:1-13:16 II Kings 1-5 Job 7-12 Nega'im [18]
Beshallaḥ, Ex. 13:17-17:16 II Kings 6-12 Job 13-20 Eruvin [19]
Yitro, Ex. 18:1-20:23 II Kings 13-18 Job 21-25 Avot [20] and Avodah Zarah [21]
Mishpatim, Ex. 21:1-24:18 II Kings 19-end Job 26-28 Bava Kamma [22]
Terumah, Ex. 25:1-27:19 Jeremiah 1-8 Job 29-38 Middot [23]
Tetzaveh, Ex. 27:20-30:10 Jeremiah 9-17 Job 39-end Tevul Yom [24]
Ki Tissa, Ex. 30:11-34:35 Jeremiah 18-31 Esther 1-end Shekalim [25]
Vayakhel, Ex. 35:1-38:20 Jeremiah 32-47 Song of Songs 1-end Shabbat [26]
Pekude, Ex. 38:21-40:38 Jeremiah 48-59 Proverbs 1-6 Tohorot [27] and Yadayim [28]
Vayikra, Lev. 1:1-5:26 Jeremiah 60-end Proverbs 7-12 Zevaḥim [29]
Tzav, Lev. 6:1-8:36 Ezekiel 1-9 Proverbs 13-17 Menaḥot [30]
Shemini, Lev. 9:1-11:47 Ezekiel 10-17 Proverbs 18-22 Ḥullin [31]
Tazria, Lev. 12:1-13:59 Ezekiel 18-22 Proverbs 23-27 Niddah [32]
Metzora, Lev. 14:1-15:33 Ezekiel 23-27 Proverbs 28-30 Zavim [33]
Aḥare Mot, Lev. 16:1-18:30 Ezekiel 28-30 Proverbs 31-end Keritot [34]
Kedoshim, Lev. 19:1-20:27 Ezekiel 31-40 Daniel 1-3 Orlah [35]
Emor, Lev. 21:1-24:23 Ezekiel 41-43 Daniel 4-6 Betzah [36] and Yoma [37]
Behar, Lev. 25:1-26:2 Ezekiel 44-46 Daniel 7-8 Shevi'it [38]
Beḥukkotai, Lev. 26:3-27:34 Ezekiel 47-end Daniel 9-end Arakhin [39]
Bemidbar, Num. 1:1-4:20 Isaiah 1-5 Ezra 1-5 Makhshirin [40]
Naso, Num. 4:21-7:89 Isaiah 6-9 Ruth 1-end Nazir [41] and Sotah [42]
Behaalotecha, Num. 8:1-12:16 Isaiah 10-13 Ezra 6-end Tamid [43]
Shelaḥ Lekha, Num. 13:1-15:41 Isaiah 14-20 Nehemiah 1-5 Ḥallah [44]
Koraḥ, Num. 16:1-18:32 Isaiah 21-24 Nehemiah 6-end Terumot [45]
Ḥukkat, Num. 19:1-22:1 Isaiah 25-29 I Chronicles 1-5 Parah [46]
Balak, Num. 22:2-25:9 Isaiah 30-33 I Chronicles 6-11 Oholot [47]
Pinḥas, Num. 25:10-30:1 Isaiah 34-40 I Chronicles 12-17 Bava Batra [48]
Mattot, Num. 30:2-32:42 Isaiah 41-44 I Chronicles 18-23 Nedarim [49]
Mass'e, Num. 33:1-36:13 Isaiah 45-49 I Chronicles 24-end Eduyot [50]
Devarim, Deut. 1:1-3:22 Isaiah 50-58 Lamentations 1-end Bava Metzia [51]
Va'etḥhannan, Deut. 3:23-7:11 Isaiah 59-end II Chronicles 1-4 Shevu'ot [52]
Ekev, Deut. 7:12-11:25 Hosea 1-6 II Chronicles 5-8 Kil'ayim [53]
Re'eh, Deut. 11:26-16:17 Hosea 7-12 II Chronicles 9-14 Pesaḥim [54], Rosh Hashanah [55] and Sukkah [56]
Shofetim, Deut. 16:18-21:9 Hosea 13-end II Chronicles 15-24 Sanhedrin [57]
Ki Tetze, Deut. 21:10-25:19 Joel 1-end and Amos 1-end II Chronicles 25-27 Gittin [58]
Ki Tavo, Deut. 26:1-29:8 Obadiah 1-end, Jonah 1-end and Micah 1-end II Chronicles 28-34 Bikkurim [59]
Nitzavim, Deut. 29:9-30:20 Nahum 1-end, Habakkuk 1-end, Zephaniah 1-end and Haggai 1-end II Chronicles 35-end Me'ilah [60]
Vayelech, Deut. 31:1-31:30 Zechariah 1-11 Ecclesiastes 1-5 Demai [61]
Haazinu, Deut. 32:1-32:52 Zechariah 12-end Ecclesiastes 6-9 Uktzin [62]
Vezot Haberakhah, Deut. 33:1-34:12 Malachi 1-end Ecclesiastes 10-end Temurah [63]

This cycle is unrelated to that for Ḥoq le-Yisra'el, which is a study cycle based on the works of Rabbi Hayyim ben Joseph Vital and revised by Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai. This too is often published in book form and is widely popular among Near and Middle Eastern Jews. Differences between the two are:

  • The Seder ha-Mishmarah does not include Targum or commentaries on the Torah portion; Ḥoq le-Yisra'el includes both;
  • Ḥoq le-Yisra'el does not include the whole of Nevi'im, Ketuvim or the Mishnah, and does not present the excerpts in a continuous order through the year;
  • Ḥoq le-Yisra'el also includes excerpts from the Talmud, the Zohar and works of Jewish law and morality;
  • Ḥoq le-Yisra'el is designed for daily rather than weekly reading.

Other uses[edit]

In Mishnaic Hebrew mishmarah (or mishmeret) means a "watch", that is to say a division of the night (usually one-third). In Temple times, a mishmar (or mishmarah) also referred to a group of priests whose turn it was to officiate.

In addition to the study cycle described above, the term mishmarah is used for a nocturnal prayer or study session preceding a celebration such as a wedding or a Brit milah or a festival such as Hoshanah Rabba or following a death. This usage was derived either from the above meaning as a watch in the night or from the practice of watching over a corpse. However, by folk etymology the word is sometimes interpreted as a portmanteau of "Mishnah" and "Gemara", to refer to the texts studied.[64]

References[edit]