Sefer Torah at old Glockengasse Synagogue (reconstruction), Cologne
The Torah (English pronunciation: /ˈtɔːrə/; Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, “Instruction”, “Teaching”) is the Jewish name for the first five books of the Jewish Bible. In Hebrew the five books are named by the first phrase in the text: Bereshit (“In the beginning,” Book of Genesis), Shemot (“Names,” Exodus), Vayikra (“He called”, Leviticus), Bamidbar (“In the desert,” Numbers) and Devarim (“Words,” Deuteronomy). In rabbinic literature the word Torah denotes both these five books, Torah Shebichtav (תורה שבכתב, “Torah that is written”), and an Oral Torah, Torah Shebe’al Peh (תורה שבעל פה, “Torah that is spoken”). The Oral Torah consists of the traditional interpretations and amplifications handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation and now embodied in the Talmud (תַּלְמוּד) and Midrash (מדרש) .
According to Jewish tradition, all of the laws found in the Torah, both written and oral, were given by God to Moses, some of them at Mount Sinai and most of them at the Tabernacle, and all the teachings were later compiled and written down by Moses, which resulted in the Torah we have today. According to medieval Jewish mysticism the Torah was created prior to the creation of the world, and was used as the blueprint for Creation. Most Modern biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian exilic period (c.600 BCE) and that it was completed by the Persian period (c.400 BCE).
Meaning and names
Reading of the Torah
The word “Torah” in Hebrew is derived from the root ירה which in the hifil conjugation means “to 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 Hebrew word for law is din. The term “Torah” is therefore also used in the general sense to include both 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”).
In the Hebrew Bible,
The earliest name for the first part of the Bible seems to have been “The Torah of Moses.” This title, however, is found neither in the Torah itself, nor in the works of the pre-Exilic literary prophets. It appears in Joshua (8:31–32; 23:6) and Kings (I Kings 2:3; II Kings 14:6; 23:25), but it cannot be said to refer there to the entire corpus. In contrast, there is every likelihood that its use in the post-Exilic works (Mal. 3:22; Dan. 9:11, 13; Ezra 3:2; 7:6; Neh. 8:1; II Chron. 23:18; 30:16) was intended to be comprehensive. Other early titles were “The Book of Moses” (Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; II Chron. 35:12; 25:4; cf. II Kings 14:6) and “The Book of the Torah” (Neh. 8:3) which seems to be a contraction of a fuller name, “The Book of the Torah of God” (Neh. 8:8, 18; 10:29–30; cf. 9:3).
Scholars usually refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the Pentateuch, a term first used in the Hellenistic Judaism of Alexandria, meaning five books, or as the Law, or Law of Moses. Muslims refer to the Torah as Tawrat (توراة, “Law”), an Arabic word for the revelations given to the Islamic prophet Musa (موسى, Moses in Arabic).
According to Jewish tradition the Torah was dictated to Moses by God, with the exception of the last eight verses of Deuteronomy which describe his death. Today, the majority of scholars agree that the Torah does not have a single author, and that its composition took place over centuries. From the late 19th century there was a general consensus around the documentary hypothesis, which suggests that the five books were created c.450 BCE by combining four originally independent sources, known as the Jahwist, or J (about 900 BCE), the Elohist, or E (about 800 BCE), the Deuteronomist, or D, (about 600 BCE), and the Priestly source, or P (about 500 BCE). This general agreement began to break down in the late 1970s, and today there are many theories but no consensus, or even majority viewpoint. Variations of the documentary hypothesis remain popular especially in America and Israel, and the identification of distinctive Deuteronomistic and Priestly theologies and vocabularies remains widespread, but they are used to form new approaches suggesting that the books were combined gradually over time by the slow accumulation of “fragments” of text, or that a basic text was “supplemented” by later authors/editors. At the same time there has been a tendency to bring the origins of the Pentateuch further forward in time, and the most recent proposals place it in 5th century Judah under the Persian empire.
Deuteronomy is often treated separately from Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus. The process of its formation probably took several hundred years, from the 8th century to the 6th, and its authors have been variously identified as prophetic circles (because the concerns of Deuteronomy mirror those of the prophets, especially Hosea), Levitical priestly circles (because it stresses the role of the Levites), and wisdom and scribal circles (because it esteems wisdom, and because the treaty-form in which it is written would be best known to scribes). According to the theory of the Deuteronomistic history proposed by Martin Noth and widely accepted, Deuteronomy was a product of the court of Josiah (late 7th century) before being used as the introduction to a comprehensive history of Israel written in the early part of the 6th century; later still it was detached from the history and used to round off the Pentateuch.
|Books of the Torah|
The Hebrew names of the five books of the Torah are known by their incipit, taken from initial words of the first verse of each book. For example, the Hebrew name of the first book, Bereshit, is the first word of Genesis 1:1:
- Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally “In the beginning”)
- Shemot (שִׁמוֹת, literally “Names”)
- Vayikra (ויקרא, literally “And He called”)
- Bəmidbar (במדבר, literally “In the desert [of]“)
- Devarim (דברים, literally “Things” or “Words”)
The anglicized names are derived from the Greek and reflect the essential theme of each book:
- Genesis: “creation”
- Exodus: “departure”
- Leviticus: refers to the Levites and the regulations that apply to their presence and service in the Temple, which form the bulk of the third book.
- Numbers (Arithmoi): contains a record of the numbering of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai and later on the plain of Moab.
- Deuteronomy: “second law,” refers to the fifth book’s recapitulation of the commandments reviewed by Moses before his death.
According to the Oral tradition, the prose in the Torah is not always in chronological order. Sometimes it is ordered by concept according to the rule: “There is not ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ in the Torah” (אין מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה, Ein mukdam u’meuchar baTorah). This position is accepted by Orthodox Judaism. Non-Orthodox Jews generally understand the same texts as signs that the current text of the Torah was redacted from earlier sources (see documentary hypothesis.)
Bereshit (Genesis) begins with the so-called “primeval history” (Genesis 1–11), the story of the world’s beginnings and the descent of Abraham. This is followed by the story of the three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), Joseph (Genesis 12–50) and the four matriarchs (Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Rachel). God gives to the patriarchs a promise of the land of Canaan, but at the end of Genesis the sons of Jacob end up leaving Canaan for Egypt.
Shemot (Exodus) begins the story of God’s revelation to his people Israel through Moses, who leads them out of Egypt (Exodus 1–18) to Mount Sinai. There the people accept a covenant with God, agreeing to be his people in return for agreeing to abide by his Law. Moses receives the Torah from God, and mediates His laws and Covenant (Exodus 19–24) to the people of Israel. Exodus also deals with the first violation of the covenant when the Golden Calf was constructed (Exodus 32–34). Exodus concludes with the instructions on building the Tabernacle (Exodus 25–31; 35–40).
Vayikra (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).
Bamidbar (Numbers) tells how Israel consolidated itself as a community at Sinai (Numbers 1–9), set out from Sinai to move towards Canaan and spied out the land (Numbers 10–13). Because of unbelief at various points, but especially at Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 14), the Israelites were condemned to wander for forty years in the desert in the vicinity of Kadesh instead of immediately entering the land of promise. Even Moses sins and is told he would not live to enter the land (Numbers 20). At the end of Numbers (Numbers 26–35) Israel moves from Kadesh to the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, ready to enter the Promised Land.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) is a series of speeches by Moses on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho. Moses proclaims the Law (Deuteronomy 12–26), gives instruction concerning covenant renewal at Shechem (Deuteronomy 27–28) and gives Israel new laws (the “Deuteronomic Code)”. At the end of the book (Deuteronomy 34) Moses is allowed to see the promised land from a mountain, but it is not known what happened to Moses on the mountain. He was never seen again. Knowing that he is nearing the end of his life, Moses appoints Joshua his successor, bequeathing to him the mantle of leadership. Soon afterwards Israel begins the conquest of Canaan.
Torah and Judaism
The Torah is the primary holy scripture of Judaism.
Rabbinic writings offer various ideas on when the Torah was composed. The revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai is considered by most to be the revelatory event. According to dating of the text by Orthodox rabbis, this occurred in 1312 BCE; another date given for this event is 1280 BCE.
Some rabbinic sources state that the entire Torah was given all at once at this event. In the maximalist belief, this dictation included not only the quotations that appear in the text, but every word of the text itself, including phrases such as “And God spoke to Moses …”, and included God telling Moses about Moses’ own death and subsequent events. Other classical rabbinic sourceshold that the Torah was revealed to Moses over many years, and finished only at his death.
Another rabbinic school of thought holds that although Moses wrote the vast majority of the Torah, the last four verses of the Torah must have been written after his death by Joshua. Abraham ibn Ezra and Joseph Bonfils observed that some phrases in the Torah present information that people should only have known after the time of Moses. Ibn Ezra hinted, and Bonfils explicitly stated, that Joshua (or perhaps some later prophet) wrote these sections of the Torah. Other rabbis would not accept this belief.
The Talmud (tractate Sabb. 115b) states that a peculiar section in the Book of Numbers (10:35 — 36, surrounded by inverted Hebrew letter nuns) in fact forms a separate book. On this verse a midrash on the book of Mishle (English Proverbs) states that “These two verses stem from an independent book which existed, but was suppressed!” Another (possibly earlier) midrash, Ta’ame Haserot Viyterot, states that this section actually comes from the book of prophecy of Eldad and Medad. The Talmud says that God dictated four books of the Torah, but that Moses wrote Deuteronomy in his own words (Talmud Bavli, Meg. 31b).
All classical rabbinic views hold that the Torah was entirely or almost entirely Mosaic and of divine origin.
Torah reading (Hebrew: קריאת התורה, K’riat HaTorah ; “Reading [of] 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 special 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 Book of Nehemiah. In the modern era, adherents of Orthodox Judaism practice Torah reading according to a set procedure they believe has remained unchanged in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (70 CE). In the 19th and 20th centuries CE, new movements such as Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism have made adaptations to the practice of Torah reading, but the basic pattern of Torah reading has usually remained the same:
As a part of the morning or afternoon prayer services on certain days of the week or holidays, a section of the Pentateuch is read from a Torah scroll. On Shabbat (Saturday) mornings, a weekly section (“parasha“) is read, selected so that the entire Pentateuch is read consecutively each year. On Saturday afternoons, Mondays, and Thursdays, the beginning of the following Saturday’s portion is read. On Jewish holidays, the beginnings of each month, and fast days, special sections connected to the day are read.
Jews observe an annual holiday, Simchat Torah, to celebrate the completion of the year’s cycle of readings.
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 when the Torah is brought out of the ark to be read (although they sit during the reading itself.)
Rabbinic tradition holds that the written Torah was transmitted in parallel with the oral tradition. 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 kid may not be boiled in its mother’s milk. [A kid being a young goat.] 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, there is little to no information as to what can and cannot be performed on the Sabbath. Without the oral tradition, keeping this law would be impossible.
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. Gemara is written in Aramaic, having been compiled in Babylon. The Mishnah and Gemara together are called the Talmud. The Rabbis in Israel also collected their traditions and compiled them into the Jerusalem Talmud. Since the greater number of Rabbis lived in Babylon, the Babylonian Talmud has precedence should the two be in conflict.
Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews accept these texts as the basis for all subsequent halakha and codes of Jewish law, which are held to be normative. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews deny that these texts 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.
Divine significance of letters, Jewish mysticism
Kabbalists hold that not only are the words giving a Divine message, but 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 (ca.50–ca.135CE), 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
Manuscript Torah scrolls are still used, and still scribed, for ritual purposes (i.e., religious services); this is called a Sefer Torah (“Book [of] Torah”). They are written using a painstakingly careful methodology by highly qualified scribes. This has resulted in modern copies of the text that are unchanged from millennia-old copies. It is believed that every word, or marking, has divine meaning, and that not one part may be inadvertently changed lest it lead to error. The fidelity of the Hebrew text of the Tanakh, and the Torah in particular, is considered paramount, down to the last letter: translations or transcriptions are frowned upon for formal service use, and transcribing is done with painstaking care. An error of a single letter, ornamentation, or symbol of the 304,805 stylized letters which make up the Hebrew Torah text renders a Torah scroll unfit for use, hence a special skill is required and a scroll takes considerable time to write and check.
According to Jewish law, a sefer Torah (plural: Sifrei Torah) is a copy of the formal Hebrew text of hand-written 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 which 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 “Holy Ark” (אֲרוֹן הקֹדשׁ aron hakodesh in Hebrew.) Aron in Hebrew means “cupboard” or “closet”, and kodesh is derived from “kadosh”, or “holy”.
In other religions
While Christianity includes the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch) among their sacred texts, in its Old Testament, Islam believes that only the original Torah was sent by the One true God. In both religions they lack the religious legal significance that they have in Orthodox Judaism.
Among early centers of Christianity a Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible was used by Greek speakers (Aramaic Targums were used by Aramaic speakers such as the Syriac Orthodox Church). The Greek version’s name in Latin is the Septuagint: L. septem meaning seven, plus -gintā meaning “times ten”. It was named Septuagint from the traditional number of its translators. This Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures dates from the 3rd century B.C., originally associated with Hellenistic Judaism. It contains both a translation of the Hebrew and additional and variant material. 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.
The Quran refers heavily to Moses to outline the truth of his existence and the religious guidelines that God (Most Exalted) had revealed to the Children of Israel. God (Most Exalted) says in the Qur’an, “It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur’an) to you with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).” [3:1]
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) over time by Jewish scribes and hence do not revere the present Jewish version Torah as much. 7:144–144 The Torah in the Qur’an 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.
- ^ Chaim Miller The Gutnick Edition Chumash – the Book of Leviticus Page 1 2005 “… Vayikra means “He called,” as in the opening verse of our Parsha, “He called to Moshe.” “
- ^ a b Birnbaum (1979), p. 630
- ^ Vol. 11 Trumah Section 61
- ^ page 1, Blenkinsopp, Joseph (1992). The Pentateuch: An introduction to the first five books of the Bible. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 038541207X.
- ^ Rabinowitz, Louis Isaac and Harvey, Warren. “Torah.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 20. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. pp 39–46.
- ^ Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, page 630
- ^ p.2767, Alcalay
- ^ pp.164–165, Scherman, Exodus 12:49
- ^ Sarna, Nahum M. et al. “Bible.” Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 3. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. pp 576–577.
- ^ The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament p163 ed. Eugene H. Merrill, Mark Rooker, Michael A. Grisanti – 2011 “Part 4 THE PENTATEUCH Michael A. Grisanti THE TERM “PENTATEUCH” derives from the Greek pentateuchos, literally, … 1 The Greek term was apparently popularized by the Hellenized Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, in the first century AD “
- ^ Louis Jacobs (1995). The Jewish religion: a companion. Oxford University Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0-19-826463-7. http://books.google.com/books?id=l1u-_VMDM80C. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- ^ McDermott, John J., “Reading the Pentateuch: a historical introduction” (Pauline Press, 2002) p.21. Books.google.com.au. 2002-10. ISBN 9780809140824. http://books.google.com/?id=Dkr7rVd3hAQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Reading+the+Pentateuch: +a+historical+introduction#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ Gordon Wenham, “Pentateuchal Studies Today,” in Themelios 22.1 (October 1996): 3–13.
- ^ Van Seters, John, “The Pentateuch: a social-science commentary” T&T Clark, 2004) p.74. Books.google.com.au. 2004-08-23. ISBN 9780567080882. http://books.google.com/?id=T-Vi9eK_vS0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Pentateuch+Social+Science +Commentary#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ Van Seters, John, “The Pentateuch: a social-science commentary” T&T Clark, 2004) pp.74–79. Books.google.com.au. 2004-08-23. ISBN 9780567080882. http://books.google.com/?id=T-Vi9eK_vS0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Pentateuch+Social+Science +Commentary#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ Ska, Jean-Louis, “Introduction to reading the Pentateuch” (Eisenbrauns, 2006) pp.217 ff.
- ^ For more information on the current debates surrounding the promulgation of the Pentateuch see The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding Its Promulgation and Acceptance (ed. Gary Knoppers and Bernard M. Levinson; Winona Lake: Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2007) ISBN 978-1-57506-140-5.
- ^ Miller, Patrick D., “Deuteronomy” (John Knox Press, 1990) pp.2–3
- ^ Miller, Patrick D., “Deuteronomy” (John Knox Press, 1990) pp.5–8
- ^ Van Seters, John, “The Pentateuch: a social-science commentary” T&T Clark, 2004) p.93. Books.google.com.au. 2004-08-23. ISBN 9780567080882. http://books.google.com/?id=T-Vi9eK_vS0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Pentateuch+Social+Science +Commentary#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ Talmud Pesachim 7a
- ^ Coogan, Michael D. A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in Its Context. Oxford University Press, 2009. pages 148–149
- ^ History Crash Course #36: Timeline: From Abraham to Destruction of the Temple, by Rabbi Ken Spiro, Aish.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- ^ Kurzweil, Arthur (2008). The Torah For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 11. ISBN 9780470283066. http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/59/04701734/0470173459.pdf. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- ^ For more information on these issues from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, see Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations, Ed. Shalom Carmy, and Handbook of Jewish Thought, Volume I, by Aryeh Kaplan.
- ^ Book of Nehemia, Chapter 8
- ^ The division of parashot found in the modern-day Torah scrolls of all Jewish communities (Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Yemenite) is based upon the systematic list provided by Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzah and Torah Scrolls, chapter 8. Maimonides based his division of the parashot for the Torah on the Aleppo Codex. Though initially doubted by Umberto Cassuto, this has become the established position in modern scholarship. (See the Aleppo Codex article for more information.)
- ^ Conservative and Reform synagogues may read parashot on a triennial rather than annual schedule, The Authentic Triennial Cycle: A Better Way to Read Torah?, [dead link]
- ^ Rietti, Rabbi Jonathan. The Oral Law: The Heart of The Torah
- ^ Mishnat Soferim The forms of the letters translated by Jen Taylor Friedman (geniza.net)
- ^ Def. of Septuagint
- ^ p.317, DeSilva
- ^ Is the Bible God’s Word by Sheikh Ahmed Deedat
- Bandstra, Barry L (2004). Reading the Old Testament: an introduction to the Hebrew Bible. Wadsworth. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=vRY9mTUZKJcC&pg=PA489&lpg=PA489&dq=Bandstra,+Barry+L+%282004%29.+Reading+the+Old+Testament:+an+introduction+to+the+Hebrew +Bible#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Birnbaum, Philip (1979). Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts. Wadsworth.
- Blenkinsopp, Joseph (2004). Treasures old and new: essays in the theology of the Pentateuch. Eerdmans. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=wq0YsOpTjKIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Treasures+old+and+new:+essays +in+the+theology+of+the+Pentateuch#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Campbell, Antony F; O’Brien, Mark A (1993). Sources of the Pentateuch: texts, introductions, annotations. Fortress Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=cwhICpcHBsQC&pg=PR3&dq=Sources+of+the+bible&cad=3#v=onepage&q=Sources%20of%20the%20bible&f=false.
- Carr, David M (1996). Reading the fractures of Genesis. Westminster John Knox Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=8UJctZxFHikC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Reading+the+fractures+of +Genesis:+historical+and+literary+approaches#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Clines, David A (1997). The theme of the Pentateuch. Sheffield Academic Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=Z45ullcFRG8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=Clines+Theme+of+the +Pentateuch#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Davies, G.I (1998). “Introduction to the Pentateuch”. In John Barton. Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=3surkLVdw3UC&pg=PA12&dq=Oxford+Bible+Commentary+Introduction +to+the+Pentateuch#v=onepage&q=Oxford%20Bible%20Commentary%20Introduction%20to%20the%20Pentateuch&f=false.
- Gooder, Paula (2000). The Pentateuch: a story of beginnings. T&T Clark. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=49XpvvO-Oq0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Pentateuch+Paula+Gooder#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Kugler, Robert; Hartin, Patrick (2009). The Old Testament between theology and history: a critical survey. Eerdmans. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=L8WbXbPjxpoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Robert+Kugler,+Patrick +Hartin#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Levin, Christoph L (2005). The Old testament: a brief introduction. Princeton University Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=7geSuBAQ1e0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Old+testament:+a+brief +introduction+Christoph+Levin#v=onepage&q&f=true.
- McEntire, Mark (2008). Struggling with God: An Introduction to the Pentateuch. Mercer University Press. http://books.google.com/books?id=VwOs9f1FpmsC&pg=PA87&dq=william+propp+exodus+1-18#v=onepage&q=william%20propp%20exodus%201-18&f=false.
- Ska, Jean-Louis (2006). Introduction to reading the Pentateuch. Eisenbrauns. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=7cdy67ZvzdkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Introduction+to+reading+the +Pentateuch+Jean+Louis+Ska#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Van Seters, John (1998). “The Pentateuch”. In Steven L. McKenzie, Matt Patrick Graham. The Hebrew Bible today: an introduction to critical issues. Westminster John Knox Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=owwhpmIVgSAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Hebrew+Bible+today:+an +introduction+to+critical+issues#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Van Seters, John (2004). The Pentateuch: a social-science commentary. Continuum International Publishing Group. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=T-Vi9eK_vS0C&pg=PA7&dq=Sources+of+the+bible&cad=3#v=onepage&q=Sources%20of%20the%20bible&f=false.
- Walsh, Jerome T (2001). Style and structure in Biblical Hebrew narrative. Liturgical Press. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=hGeXrcQTZ2kC&printsec=frontcover&dq=style+and+structure+in+biblical +hebrew+narrative#v=onepage&q&f=false.
- Friedman, Richard Elliott, Who Wrote the Bible?, HarperSanFrancisco, 1997
- Welhausen, Julius, Prolegomena to the History of Israel, Scholars Press, 1994 (reprint of 1885)
- Kantor, Mattis, The Jewish time line encyclopedia: A year-by-year history from Creation to the present, Jason Aronson Inc., London, 1992
- Wheeler, Brannon M., Moses in the Quran and Islamic Exegesis, Routledge, 2002
- DeSilva, David Arthur, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry, InterVarsity Press, 2004
- Alcalay, Reuben., The Complete Hebrew – English dictionary, vol 2, Hemed Books, New York, 1996 ISBN 978-9654481793
- Scherman, Nosson, (ed.), Tanakh, Vol.I, The Torah, (Stone edition), Mesorah Publications, Ltd., New York, 2001
- Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Tucker, Gordon & Levin, Leonard, Heavenly Torah: As Refracted Through the Generations, London, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005
- Hubbard, David “The Literary Sources of the Kebra Nagast” Ph.D. dissertation St Andrews University, Scotland, 1956
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Torah
- Great resource of Torah for the Shabbat Torah portions)
- Three Complete Kosher Sefer Torah Scrolls for Study online (Congregation Beth Emeth of Northern Virginia)
- Sefer Torah Scroll for Study online with Megillot and commentaries
- Computer generated Sefer Torah for Study online with translation, transliteration and chanting (WorldORT)
- Online Torah Resources – weekly parsha pages, learning resources by topic
The weekly Torah portion (Hebrew: פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ Parashat ha-Shavua, popularly just parashah or parshah and also known as a Sidra) is a section of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) read in Jewish services. In Judaism, the Torah is read publicly over the course of a year, with one major portion read each week in the Shabbat morning service.
Each weekly Torah portion adopts its name from one of the first unique words in the Hebrew text. Dating back to the time of the Babylonian captivity (6th century BCE), public Torah reading mostly followed an annual cycle beginning and ending on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, with the Torah divided into 54 weekly portions to correspond to the lunisolar Hebrew calendar, which contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years.
There was also an ancient triennial cycle of readings practiced in some parts of the world. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many congregations in the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements have implemented an alternative triennial cycle in which only one-third of each weekly parashah is read in a given year; the parashot read are still consistent with the annual cycle but the entire Torah is completed over three years.
Due to different lengths of holidays in Israel and the Diaspora, the portion that is read on a particular week will sometimes not be the same inside and outside Israel.
Division into weekly parashot
The division of parashot found in the modern-day Torah scrolls of all Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Yemenite communities is based upon the systematic list provided by Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzah and Torah Scrolls, Chapter 8. Maimonides based his division of the parashot for the Torah on the Masoretic text of the Aleppo Codex.
Table of weekly readings
In the table, a portion that may be combined with the following portion, to compensate for the changing number of weeks in the lunisolar year, is marked with an asterisk.
|Book||Parsha Name||Parsha Portion|
|(Genesis)||Bereishit, בְּרֵאשִׁית||Gen. 1:1-6:8|
|Chayei Sarah, חַיֵּי שָׂרָה||23:1-25:18|
|(Exodus)||Shemot, שְׁמוֹת||Ex. 1:1-6:1|
|Ki Tisa, כִּי תִשָּׂא||30:11-34:35|
|(Leviticus)||Vayikra, וַיִּקְרָא||Lev. 1:1-5:26|
|*Acharei, אַחֲרֵי מוֹת||16:1-18:30|
|(Numbers)||Bamidbar, בְּמִדְבַּר||Num. 1:1-4:20|
|(Deuteronomy)||Devarim, דְּבָרִים||Deut. 1:1-3:22|
|Ki Teitzei, כִּי-תֵצֵא||21:10-25:19|
|Ki Tavo, כִּי-תָבוֹא||26:1-29:8|
|V’Zot HaBerachah, וְזֹאת הַבְּרָכָה||33:1-34:12|