- Title: Torah 001
The Torah 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 Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh, and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws (halakha).
In rabbinic literature the word "Torah" denotes both the five books and the Oral Torah. 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.
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.
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