* v * t * e
The TORAH (/ˈtɔːrəˌˈtoʊrə/ ;
Hebrew : תּוֹרָה,
"instruction, teaching") is the central reference of
Judaism . It has
a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five
books (_Pentateuch_) of the twenty-four books of the
Tanakh , and it
usually includes the rabbinic commentaries (_perushim _). The term
"Torah" means instruction and offers a way of life for those who
follow it; it can mean the continued narrative from
In rabbinic literature the word "Torah" denotes both the five books ( Hebrew : תורה שבכתב " Torah that is written") and the Oral Torah (תורה שבעל פה, " Torah that is spoken"). The Oral Torah consists of interpretations and amplifications which according to rabbinic tradition have been handed down from generation to generation and are now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash . According to rabbinic tradition, all of the teachings found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God through the prophet Moses , some at Mount Sinai and others at the Tabernacle , and all the teachings were written down by Moses , which resulted in the Torah that exists today. According to the Midrash , the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world , and was used as the blueprint for Creation.
The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were
a product of the
Babylonian captivity (c. 600 BCE), based on earlier
written and oral traditions, which could only have arisen from
separate communities within ancient Israel, and that it was completed
by the period of Achaemenid rule (c. 400 BCE). The 1979 discovery of
fragments of the
Traditionally, the words of the Torah are written on a scroll by a scribe (_sofer _) in Hebrew. A Torah portion is read publicly at least once every three days in the presence of a congregation . Reading the Torah publicly is one of the bases for Jewish communal life.
* 1 Meaning and names
* 1.1 Alternative names
* 2 Contents
* 3 Authorship
* 8 Torah translations
* 8.5 Modern languages
* 8.5.1 Jewish translations * 8.5.2 Christian translations
* 9 In other religions * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Bibliography * 13 Additional resources * 14 External links
MEANING AND NAMES
Reading of the Torah
The word "Torah" in Hebrew is derived from the root ירה, which in the _hif\'il _ conjugation means "to guide/teach" (cf. Lev 10:11). The meaning of the word is therefore "teaching", "doctrine", or "instruction"; the commonly accepted "law" gives a wrong impression. Other translational contexts in the English language include custom , theory , guidance , or system .
The term "Torah" is used in the general sense to include both Rabbinic Judaism 's written law and Oral Law , serving to encompass the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah , the Talmud, the Midrash and more, and the inaccurate rendering of "Torah" as "Law" may be an obstacle to understanding the ideal that is summed up in the term _talmud torah_ (תלמוד תורה, "study of Torah").
The earliest name for the first part of the
Christian scholars usually refer to the first five books of the
TANAKH _ (JUDAISM)
* Hosea * Joel * Amos * Obadiah * Jonah * Micah * Nahum * Habakkuk * Zephaniah * Haggai * Zechariah * Malachi
FIVE _MEGILLOT_ (SCROLLS)
SONG OF SONGS Shir Hashirim
CHRONICLES Dibh're Hayyamim
OLD TESTAMENT (CHRISTIANITY)
* Wisdom * Poetry
* Isaiah * Jeremiah * Lamentations * Ezekiel * Daniel
* Hosea * Joel * Amos * Obadiah * Jonah * Micah * Nahum * Habakkuk * Zephaniah * Haggai * Zechariah * Malachi
* 1 Enoch * Jubilees * 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan * Paralipomena of Baruch * Broader canon
* v * t * e
LANGUAGE Tiberian Hebrew
Torah starts from the beginning of God's creating the world,
through the beginnings of the people of Israel, their descent into
Egypt, and the giving of the
Torah at Mt. Sinai. It ends with the
death of Moses, just before the people of
In Hebrew, the five books of the Torah are identified by the incipits in each book; and the common English names for the books are derived from the Greek Septuagint and reflect the essential theme of each book:
* Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally "In the beginning")—Genesis * Shemot (שִׁמוֹת, literally "Names")—Exodus * Vayikra (ויקרא, literally "And He called")— Leviticus * Bəmidbar (במדבר, literally "In the desert ")—Numbers * Devarim (דברים, literally "Things" or "Words")— Deuteronomy
_Genesis_ begins with the "primeval history " (Genesis 1–11), the
story of the world's beginnings and the descent from Adam. This is
followed by the story of the three patriarchs (
Exodus begins the story of God's revelation to his people of Israel
through Moses, who leads them out of
_Leviticus_ begins with instructions to the Israelites on how to use the Tabernacle, which they had just built ( Leviticus 1–10). This is followed by rules of clean and unclean ( Leviticus 11–15), which includes the laws of slaughter and animals permissible to eat (see also: Kashrut ), the Day of Atonement ( Leviticus 16), and various moral and ritual laws sometimes called the Holiness Code (Leviticus 17–26). Leviticus 26 provides a detailed list of rewards for following God's commandments and a detailed list of punishments for not following them.
_Numbers_ tells how
_Deuteronomy_ is a series of speeches by
Moses on the plains of Moab
opposite Jericho. Also referred to as
Mishneh Torah in
repeat of the Torah) the essential gist of the entire book is a rebuke
to the Children of
Talmud holds that the
Torah was written by Moses, with the
exception of the last eight verses of
Deuteronomy , describing his
death and burial, being written by
The modern scholarly consensus is that the
Torah has multiple authors
and that its composition took place over centuries. This contemporary
common hypothesis among biblical scholars states that the first major
comprehensive draft of the
"The consensus of scholarship is that the stories are taken from four
different written sources and that these were brought together over
the course of time to form the first five books of the
TORAH AND JUDAISM
_ Presentation of The Torah_ (1860) – Museum of Jewish Art and History
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Rabbinic writings indicate that the Oral Torah was given to Moses at Mount Sinai , which, according to the tradition of Orthodox Judaism , occurred in 1312 BC. The Orthodox rabbinic tradition holds that the Written Torah was recorded during the following forty years, though many non-Orthodox Jewish scholars affirm the modern scholarly consensus that the Written Torah has multiple authors and was written over centuries.
The Talmud ( Gittin 60a) presents two opinions as to how exactly the Torah was written down by Moses. One opinion holds that it was written by Moses gradually as it was dictated to him, and finished it close to his death, and the other opinion holds that Moses wrote the complete Torah in one writing close to his death, based on what was dictated to him over the years.
Menachot 30a) says that the last eight verses of the
Torah that discuss the death and burial of
Moses could not have been
written by Moses, as writing it would have been a lie, and that they
were written after his death by Joshua.
Ezra and Joseph
Bonfils observed that phrases in those verses present information that
people should only have known after the time of Moses. Ibn Ezra
hinted, and Bonfils explicitly stated, that
All classical rabbinic views hold that the Torah was entirely Mosaic and of divine origin. Present-day Reform and Liberal Jewish movements all reject Mosaic authorship, as do most shades of Conservative Judaism .
Torah reading ( Hebrew : קריאת התורה, _K'riat HaTorah_; "Reading the Torah") is a Jewish religious ritual that involves the public reading of a set of passages from a Torah scroll . The term often refers to the entire ceremony of removing the Torah scroll (or scrolls) from the ark , chanting the appropriate excerpt with traditional cantillation , and returning the scroll(s) to the ark. It is distinct from academic Torah study .
Regular public reading of the
Torah was introduced by
Ezra the Scribe
after the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian captivity
(c. 537 BCE), as described in the
As a part of the morning prayer services on certain days of the week,
fast days and holidays, as well as part of the afternoon prayer
services of Shabbat,
Yom Kippur and fast days, a section of the
Torah scrolls are often dressed with a sash, a special Torah cover, various ornaments and a Keter (crown), although such customs vary among synagogues. Congregants traditionally stand in respect when the Torah is brought out of the ark to be read, while it is being carried, and lifted, and likewise while it is returned to the ark, although they may sit during the reading itself.
See also: Biblical law
The Torah contains narratives, statements of law, and statements of ethics. Collectively these laws, usually called biblical law or commandments, are sometimes referred to as the Law of Moses (_Torat Moshe_ תּוֹרַת־מֹשֶׁה), Mosaic Law , or Sinaitic Law .
THE ORAL TORAH
See also: Oral Torah
Rabbinic tradition holds that Moses learned the whole Torah while he lived on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights and both the oral and the written Torah were transmitted in parallel with each other. Where the Torah leaves words and concepts undefined, and mentions procedures without explanation or instructions, the reader is required to seek out the missing details from supplemental sources known as the oral law or oral Torah. Some of the Torah's most prominent commandments needing further explanation are:
* Tefillin : As indicated in Deuteronomy 6:8 among other places, tefillin are to be placed on the arm and on the head between the eyes. However, there are no details provided regarding what tefillin are or how they are to be constructed. * Kashrut : As indicated in Exodus 23:19 among other places, a young goat may not be boiled in its mother's milk. In addition to numerous other problems with understanding the ambiguous nature of this law, there are no vowelization characters in the Torah; they are provided by the oral tradition. This is particularly relevant to this law, as the Hebrew word for _milk_ (חלב) is identical to the word for _animal fat_ when vowels are absent. Without the oral tradition, it is not known whether the violation is in mixing meat with milk or with fat. * Shabbat laws: With the severity of Sabbath violation, namely the death penalty, one would assume that direction would be provided as to how exactly such a serious and core commandment should be upheld. However, most information regarding the rules and traditions of Shabbat are dictated in the Talmud and other books deriving from Jewish oral law.
According to classical rabbinic texts this parallel set of material was originally transmitted to Moses at Sinai, and then from Moses to Israel. At that time it was forbidden to write and publish the oral law, as any writing would be incomplete and subject to misinterpretation and abuse.
However, after exile, dispersion and persecution, this tradition was lifted when it became apparent that in writing was the only way to ensure that the Oral Law could be preserved. After many years of effort by a great number of tannaim , the oral tradition was written down around 200 CE by Rabbi Judah haNasi , who took up the compilation of a nominally written version of the Oral Law, the Mishnah ( Hebrew : משנה). Other oral traditions from the same time period not entered into the Mishnah were recorded as "Baraitot" (external teaching), and the Tosefta . Other traditions were written down as Midrashim .
After continued persecution more of the oral law was committed to
writing. A great many more lessons, lectures and traditions only
alluded to in the few hundred pages of Mishnah, became the thousands
of pages now called the _
Gemara is written in Aramaic,
having been compiled in Babylon. The
Gemara together are
Talmud . The Rabbis in
Orthodox and Conservative branches of Judaism accept these texts as the basis for all subsequent halakha and codes of Jewish law, which are held to be normative. Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism deny that these texts, or the Torah itself for that matter, may be used for determining normative law (laws accepted as binding) but accept them as the authentic and only Jewish version for understanding the Torah and its development throughout history. Humanistic Judaism holds that the Torah is a historical, political, and sociological text, but does not believe that every word of the Torah is true, or even morally correct. Humanistic Judaism is willing to question the Torah and to disagree with it, believing that the entire Jewish experience, not just the Torah, should be the source for Jewish behavior and ethics.
DIVINE SIGNIFICANCE OF LETTERS, JEWISH MYSTICISM
Further information: Kabbalah
Kabbalists hold that not only do the words of Torah give a divine message, but they also indicate a far greater message that extends beyond them. Thus they hold that even as small a mark as a _kotzo shel yod_ (קוצו של יוד), the serif of the Hebrew letter _yod _ (י), the smallest letter, or decorative markings, or repeated words, were put there by God to teach scores of lessons. This is regardless of whether that yod appears in the phrase "I am the Lord thy God" (אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, Exodus 20:2) or whether it appears in "And God spoke unto Moses saying" (וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, אֲנִי יְהוָה. Exodus 6:2). In a similar vein, Rabbi Akiva (c. 50 – c. 135 CE), is said to have learned a new law from every _et_ (את) in the Torah ( Talmud , tractate Pesachim 22b); the word _et_ is meaningless by itself, and serves only to mark the direct object . In other words, the Orthodox belief is that even apparently contextual text "And God spoke unto Moses saying ..." is no less important than the actual statement.
One kabbalistic interpretation is that the Torah constitutes one long name of God, and that it was broken up into words so that human minds can understand it. While this is effective since it accords with our human reason, it is not the only way that the text can be broken up.
PRODUCTION AND USE OF A TORAH SCROLL
According to Jewish law, a _sefer Torah_ (plural: _Sifrei Torah_) is a copy of the formal Hebrew text handwritten on _gevil _ or _qlaf _ (forms of parchment ) by using a quill (or other permitted writing utensil) dipped in ink. Written entirely in Hebrew , a _sefer Torah_ contains 304,805 letters, all of which must be duplicated precisely by a trained _sofer _ ("scribe"), an effort that may take as long as approximately one and a half years. Most modern Sifrei Torah are written with forty-two lines of text per column (Yemenite Jews use fifty), and very strict rules about the position and appearance of the Hebrew letters are observed. See for example the Mishna Berura on the subject. Any of several Hebrew scripts may be used, most of which are fairly ornate and exacting.
The completion of the sefer
Torah is a cause for great celebration,
and it is a
Mitzvah for every
Jew to either write or have written for
him a Sefer Torah.
Torah scrolls are stored in the holiest part of the
synagogue in the Ark known as the "
Main article: Targum
At an early period, it was customary to translate the Hebrew text into the vernacular at the time of the reading (e.g., in Palestine and Babylon the translation was into Aramaic). The targum ("translation") was done by a special synagogue official, called the meturgeman ... Eventually, the practice of translating into the vernacular was discontinued.
However, there is no suggestion that these translations had been written down as early as this. There are suggestions that the Targum was written down at an early date, although for private use only.
The official recognition of a written Targum and the final redaction of its text, however, belong to the post-Talmudic period, thus not earlier than the fifth century C.E.
Main article: Septuagint
One of the earliest known translations of the first five books of
Moses from the
Hebrew into Greek was the
Septuagint . This is a Koine
Greek version of the
Later translations into Greek include seven or more other versions. These do not survive, except as fragments, and include those by Aquila , Symmachus , and Theodotion .
From the eighth century AD, the cultural language of
under Islamic rule became
Arabic rather than Aramaic. "Around that
time, both scholars and lay people started producing translations of
Torah has been translated by Jewish scholars into most of the
major European languages, including English, German, Russian, French,
Spanish and others. The most well-known German-language translation
was produced by
Samson Raphael Hirsch . A number of Jewish English
IN OTHER RELIGIONS
While Christianity includes the five books of Moses (the _Pentateuch_) among their sacred texts in its Old Testament , Islam states that only the original Torah was sent by God. In neither religion does the Torah retain the religious legal significance that it does in Orthodox Judaism.
Among early centers of Christianity the Septuagint was used by Greek speakers, while Aramaic Targums were used by Aramaic speakers such as the Syriac Orthodox Church . It was regarded as the standard form of the Old Testament in the early Greek Christian Church and is still considered canonical in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Though different Christian denominations have slightly different versions of the Old Testament in their Bibles, the Torah as the "Five Books of Moses" (or "the Mosaic Law ") is common among them all.
Quran refers heavily to
Moses to outline the truth of his
existence and the religious guidelines that God had revealed to the
Children of Israel. According to the Qur'an,
Allah says "It is He Who
has sent down the
Muslims call the Torah the _ Tawrat _ and consider it the word of God given to Moses. However, Muslims also believe that this original revelation was corrupted (_tahrif _) (or simply altered by the passage of time and human fallibility) over time by Jewish scribes and hence do not revere the present "Jewish version" Torah as much. 7:144–144 The Torah in the Quran is always mentioned with respect in Islam. The Muslims' belief in the Torah, as well as the prophethood of Moses, is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam.
The Bahá’í position on the Torah was composed in 1906 by its official interpreter on all matters religious, Sir ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ Abbas K.B.E.
"The Torah, held to be the most ancient of histories, existeth today in three separate versions: the Hebrew, considered authentic by the Jews and the Protestant clergy; the Greek Septuagint, which was used as authoritative in the Greek and other eastern churches; and the Samaritan Torah, the standard authority for that people. These three versions differ greatly, one from another, even with regard to the lifetimes of the most celebrated figures. In the Hebrew Torah, it is recorded that from Noah's flood until the birth of Abraham there was an interval of two hundred and ninety-two years. In the Greek, that time span is given as one thousand and seventy-two years, while the Samaritan, the recorded span is nine hundred and forty-two years. Refer to the commentary by Henry Westcott for tables are supplied therein which show the discrepancies among the three Torahs as to the birth dates of a number of the descendants of Shem, and thou wilt see how greatly the versions differ from one another. Moreover, according to the text of the Hebrew Torah, from the creation of Adam until Noah's flood the elapsed time is recorded as one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, while in the Greek Torah the interval is given as two thousand two hundred and sixty-two years, and in the Samaritan text, the same period is said to have lasted one thousand three hundred and seven years. Reflect now over the discrepancies among these three Torahs. The case is indeed surprising. The Jews and Protestants belittle the Greek Torah, while to the Greeks the Hebrew version is spurious, and the Samaritans deny both the Hebrew and the Greek versions."
‘Abdu’l Bahá’s elucidations above in 1906 are found in his letter to Ethel Jenner Rosenberg (1858–1930, without issue and no relation to the famous spies, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg) http://bahai-library.com/abdulbaha_tablet_wisdom_questions
* ^ Neusner,
* ^ History Crash Course #36: Timeline: From
Abraham to Destruction
of the Temple, by
Rabbi Ken Spiro, Aish.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
* ^ Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc Zvi; Fishbane, Michael, eds.
(2004). _The Jewish Study Bible_. New York City: Oxford University
Press. pp. 3–7. ISBN 978-0195297515 .
* ^ Nadler, Steven; Saebo, Magne (2008). _
Bandstra, Barry L (2004). _Reading the Old Testament: an
introduction to the
Hebrew Bible_. Wadsworth. ISBN 9780495391050 .
Birnbaum, Philip (1979). _Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts_. Wadsworth.
Blenkinsopp, Joseph (2004). _Treasures old and new: essays in the
theology of the Pentateuch_. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802826794 . Campbell,
Antony F; O'Brien, Mark A (1993). _Sources of the Pentateuch: texts,
introductions, annotations_. Fortress Press. ISBN 9781451413670 .