Torah

Torah (/ˈtɔːrə, ˈtoʊrə/; Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (Pentateuch) of the 24 books of the Tanakh, and it is usually printed with the rabbinic commentaries (perushim). It can mean the continued narrative from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh (Malachi), and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice, whether derived from biblical texts or later rabbinic writings.[1] 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 (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.[2] Rabbinic tradition's understanding is that 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.[3] The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian captivity (c. 6th century BCE), based on earlier written sources and oral traditions, and that it was completed with final revisions during the post-Exilic period (c. 5th century BCE).[4][5][6]

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.[7] Reading the Torah publicly is one of the bases of Jewish communal life.

Köln-Tora-und-Innenansicht-Synagoge-Glockengasse-040
Sefer Torah at old Glockengasse Synagogue (reconstruction), Cologne.

Meaning and names

ReadingOfTheTorah
Reading of the Torah

The word "Torah" in Hebrew is derived from the root ירה, which in the hif'il conjugation means 'to guide' or '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.[8] The Alexandrian Jews who translated the Septuagint used the Greek word nomos, meaning norm, standard, doctrine, and later "law". Greek and Latin Bibles then began the custom of calling the Pentateuch The Law. Other translational contexts in the English language include custom, theory, guidance,[9] or system.[10]

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"[11] may be an obstacle to understanding the ideal that is summed up in the term talmud torah (תלמוד תורה, "study of Torah").[2]

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 (according to academic Bible criticism). 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).[12]

Alternative names

Christian scholars usually refer to the first five books of the Hebrew Bible as the 'Pentateuch' (Greek: πεντάτευχος, pentáteuchos, 'five scrolls'), a term first used in the Hellenistic Judaism of Alexandria.[13]

Contents

Torah
Information
ReligionJudaism
AuthorMultiple
LanguageTiberian Hebrew
Chapters187
Verses5,852

The 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 biblical Mount Sinai. It ends with the death of Moses, just before the people of Israel cross to the promised land of Canaan. Interspersed in the narrative are the specific teachings (religious obligations and civil laws) given explicitly (i.e. Ten Commandments) or implicitly embedded in the narrative (as in Exodus 12 and 13 laws of the celebration of Passover).

In Hebrew, the five books of the Torah are identified by the incipits in each book;[14] and the common English names for the books are derived from the Greek Septuagint and reflect the essential theme of each book:

  • Bəreshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally "In the beginning")—Genesis, from Γένεσις (Génesis, "Creation")
  • Shəmot (שְׁמוֹת, literally "Names")—Exodus, from Ἔξοδος (Éxodos, "Exit")
  • Vayikra (וַיִּקְרָא, literally "And He called")—Leviticus, from Λευιτικόν (Leuitikón, "Relating to the Levites")
  • Bəmidbar (בְּמִדְבַּר, literally "In the desert [of]")—Numbers, from Ἀριθμοί (Arithmoí, "Numbers")
  • Dəvarim (דְּבָרִים, literally "Things" or "Words")—Deuteronomy, from Δευτερονόμιον (Deuteronómion, "Second-Law")

Bereshit/Genesis

The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Torah.[15] It is divisible into two parts, the Primeval history (chapters 1–11) and the Ancestral history (chapters 12–50).[16] The primeval history sets out the author's (or authors') concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world which is good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, saving only the righteous Noah to reestablish the relationship between man and God.[17] The Ancestral history (chapters 12–50) tells of the prehistory of Israel, God's chosen people.[18] At God's command Noah's descendant Abraham journeys from his home into the God-given land of Canaan, where he dwells as a sojourner, as does his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Jacob's name is changed to Israel, and through the agency of his son Joseph, the children of Israel descend into Egypt, 70 people in all with their households, and God promises them a future of greatness. Genesis ends with Israel in Egypt, ready for the coming of Moses and the Exodus. The narrative is punctuated by a series of covenants with God, successively narrowing in scope from all mankind (the covenant with Noah) to a special relationship with one people alone (Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob).[19]

Shemot/Exodus

The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah, immediately following Genesis. The book tells how the Israelites leave slavery in Egypt through the strength of Yahweh, the god who has chosen Israel as his people. With the prophet Moses as their leader, they journey through the wilderness to biblical Mount Sinai, where Yahweh promises them the land of Canaan (the "Promised Land") in return for their faithfulness. Israel enters into a covenant with Yahweh who gives them their laws and instructions to build the Tabernacle, the means by which he will come from heaven and dwell with them and lead them in a holy war to possess the land, and then give them peace.

Traditionally ascribed to Moses himself, modern scholarship sees the book as initially a product of the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), from earlier written and oral traditions, with final revisions in the Persian post-exilic period (5th century BCE).[20][21] Carol Meyers, in her commentary on Exodus suggests that it is arguably the most important book in the Bible, as it presents the defining features of Israel's identity: memories of a past marked by hardship and escape, a binding covenant with God, who chooses Israel, and the establishment of the life of the community and the guidelines for sustaining it.[22]

Vayikra/Leviticus

The Book 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. Leviticus 17 establishes sacrifices at the Tabernacle as an everlasting ordinance, but this ordinance is altered in later books with the Temple being the only place in which sacrifices are allowed.

Bamidbar/Numbers

The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Torah.[23] The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction (i.e., editing) of a Yahwistic source made some time in the early Persian period (5th century BCE).[24] The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites.

Numbers begins at Mount Sinai, where the Israelites have received their laws and covenant from God and God has taken up residence among them in the sanctuary.[25] The task before them is to take possession of the Promised Land. The people are counted and preparations are made for resuming their march. The Israelites begin the journey, but they "murmur" at the hardships along the way, and about the authority of Moses and Aaron. For these acts, God destroys approximately 15,000 of them through various means. They arrive at the borders of Canaan and send spies into the land. Upon hearing the spies' fearful report concerning the conditions in Canaan, the Israelites refuse to take possession of it. God condemns them to death in the wilderness until a new generation can grow up and carry out the task. The book ends with the new generation of Israelites in the Plain of Moab ready for the crossing of the Jordan River.[26]

Numbers is the culmination of the story of Israel's exodus from oppression in Egypt and their journey to take possession of the land God promised their fathers. As such it draws to a conclusion the themes introduced in Genesis and played out in Exodus and Leviticus: God has promised the Israelites that they shall become a great (i.e. numerous) nation, that they will have a special relationship with Yahweh their god, and that they shall take possession of the land of Canaan. Numbers also demonstrates the importance of holiness, faithfulness and trust: despite God's presence and his priests, Israel lacks faith and the possession of the land is left to a new generation.[24]

Devarim/Deuteronomy

The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Torah. Chapters 1–30 of the book consist of three sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses on the plains of Moab, shortly before they enter the Promised Land. The first sermon recounts the forty years of wilderness wanderings which had led to that moment, and ends with an exhortation to observe the law (or teachings), later referred to as the Law of Moses; the second reminds the Israelites of the need to follow Yahweh and the laws (or teachings) he has given them, on which their possession of the land depends; and the third offers the comfort that even should Israel prove unfaithful and so lose the land, with repentance all can be restored.[27] The final four chapters (31–34) contain the Song of Moses, the Blessing of Moses, and narratives recounting the passing of the mantle of leadership from Moses to Joshua and, finally, the death of Moses on Mount Nebo.

Presented as the words of Moses delivered before the conquest of Canaan, a broad consensus of modern scholars see its origin in traditions from Israel (the northern kingdom) brought south to the Kingdom of Judah in the wake of the Assyrian conquest of Aram (8th century BCE) and then adapted to a program of nationalist reform in the time of Josiah (late 7th century BCE), with the final form of the modern book emerging in the milieu of the return from the Babylonian captivity during the late 6th century BCE.[28] Many scholars see the book as reflecting the economic needs and social status of the Levite caste, who are believed to have provided its authors;[29] those likely authors are collectively referred to as the Deuteronomist.

One of its most significant verses is Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema Yisrael, which has become the definitive statement of Jewish identity: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one." Verses 6:4–5 were also quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28–34 as part of the Great Commandment.

Authorship

The 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 Joshua.[30] Alternatively, Rashi quotes from the Talmud that, "God spoke them, and Moses wrote them with tears".[31][32] The Mishnah includes the divine origin of the Torah as an essential tenet of Judaism.[33]

The modern scholarly consensus is that the Torah has multiple authors and that its composition took place over centuries.[34] This contemporary common hypothesis among biblical scholars states that the first major comprehensive draft of the Pentateuch was composed in the late 7th or the 6th century BCE (the Jahwist source), and that this was later expanded by the addition of various narratives and laws (the Priestly source) into a work very like the one existing today.

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 Bible as a composite work. The sources are known as J, the Jahwist source (from the German transliteration of the Hebrew YHWH), E, the Elohist source, P, the priestly source, and D, the Deuteronomist source. ... Thus, the Pentateuch (or Torah, as it is known by Jews) comprises material taken from six centuries of human history, which has been put together to give a comprehensive picture of the creation of the world and of God's dealings with his peoples, specifically with the people of Israel. (Professor John Riches of the University of Glasgow).[35]

According to Jewish tradition, the Torah was recompiled by Ezra during Second Temple period.[36][37]

Torah and Judaism

Présentation de la Loi, Edouard Moyse (1860) - Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme
Presentation of The Torah (1860) – Museum of Jewish Art and History

Rabbinic writings state that the Oral Torah was given to Moses at Mount Sinai, which, according to the tradition of Orthodox Judaism, occurred in 1312 BCE. The Orthodox rabbinic tradition holds that the Written Torah was recorded during the following forty years,[38] though many non-Orthodox Jewish scholars affirm the modern scholarly consensus that the Written Torah has multiple authors and was written over centuries.[39]

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.

The Talmud (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. Abraham ibn Ezra[40] 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,[41] and Bonfils explicitly stated, that Joshua wrote these verses many years after the death of Moses. Other commentators[42] do not accept this position and maintain that although Moses did not write those eight verses it was nonetheless dictated to him and that Joshua wrote it based on instructions left by Moses, and that the Torah often describes future events, some of which have yet to occur.

All classical rabbinic views hold that the Torah was entirely Mosaic and of divine origin.[43] Present-day Reform and Liberal Jewish movements all reject Mosaic authorship, as do most shades of Conservative Judaism.[44]

According to Legends of the Jews, God gave Torah to the children of Israel after he approached every tribe and nation in the world, and offered them the Torah, but the latter refused it so they might have no excuse to be ignorant about it.[45] In this book, Torah is defined as one of the first things created, as remedy against the evil inclination,[46] and as the counselor who advised God to create human in the creation of world in order to make him the honored One.[47]

Ritual use

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 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 Book of Nehemiah.[48] 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 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 Pentateuch is read from a Torah scroll. On Shabbat (Saturday) mornings, a weekly section ("parashah") is read, selected so that the entire Pentateuch is read consecutively each year. 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. Conservative and Reform synagogues may read parashot on a triennial rather than annual schedule,[49][50][51] 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 and new start 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 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.

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

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.[52] 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.[53]

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 the Land of 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 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.[54]

Divine significance of letters, Jewish mysticism

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 kotso 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 particle 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 such as "And God spoke unto Moses saying ..." is no less important than the actual statement.

Production and use of a Torah scroll

Page Pointers for reading of Torah
Page pointers, or yad, for reading of the Torah

Manuscript Torah scrolls are still scribed and used for ritual purposes (i.e., religious services); this is called a Sefer Torah ("Book [of] Torah"). They are written using a painstakingly careful method by highly qualified scribes. This has resulted in, according to B. Barry Levy, "The popular assumption that no changes were ever introduced into copies of the Bible during rabbinic times." However, he writes that this "simply does not accord with the facts".[55] 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 that 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 handwritten on gevil or klaf (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 Mishnah Berurah on the subject.[56] 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".

Torah translations

Aramaic

The Book of Ezra refers to translations and commentaries of the Hebrew text into Aramaic, the more commonly understood language of the time. These translations would seem to date to the 6th century BCE. The Aramaic term for translation is Targum.[57] The Encyclopedia Judaica has:

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.[58]

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.[59]

Greek

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 Hebrew Bible that was used by Greek speakers. This Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures dates from the 3rd century BCE, originally associated with Hellenistic Judaism. It contains both a translation of the Hebrew and additional and variant material.[60]

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.[61]

Latin

Early translations into Latin—the Vetus Latina—were ad hoc conversions of parts of the Septuagint. With Saint Jerome in the 4th century CE came the Vulgate Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible.

Arabic

From the eighth century CE, the cultural language of Jews living under Islamic rule became Arabic rather than Aramaic. "Around that time, both scholars and lay people started producing translations of the Bible into Judeo-Arabic using the Hebrew alphabet." Later, by the 10th century, it became essential for a standard version of the Bible in Judeo-Arabic. The best known was produced by Saadiah, and continues to be in use today, "in particular among Yemenite Jewry".[62]

Rav Sa'adia produced an Arabic translation of the Torah known as Targum Tafsir and offered comments on Rasag's work.[63] There is a debate in scholarship whether Rasag wrote the first Arabic translation of the Torah.[64]

Modern languages

Jewish translations

The 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 Bible translations have been published.

Christian translations

As a part of the Christian biblical canons, the Torah has been translated into hundreds of languages.

In other religions

Christianity

Although 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.

Islam

Islam states that the original Torah was sent by God. According to the Quran, Allah says, "It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Quran) to you with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)." [3:3] 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[65] 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.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í position on the Torah was composed in 1906 by its official interpreter on all matters religious, `Abdu'l-Bahá,

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.[66]

See also

References

  1. ^ Neusner, Jacob (2004). The Emergence of Judaism. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. p. 57. "The Hebrew word torah mean 'teaching'. We recall ... the most familiar meaning of the word: 'Torah = the five books of Moses", the Pentateuch .... The Torah may also refer to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures .... The Torah furthermore covers instruction in two media, writing and memory .... [The oral part] is contained, in part, in the Mishnah, Talmud, and midrash compilations. But there is more: what the world calls 'Judaism' the faithful know as 'the Torah.'"
  2. ^ a b Birnbaum (1979), p. 630
  3. ^ Vol. 11 Trumah Section 61
  4. ^ 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 0-385-41207-X.
  5. ^ Finkelstein, I., Silberman, NA., The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, p.68
  6. ^ McDermott, John J., (2002). Reading the Pentateuch: a historical introduction. Pauline Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8091-4082-4. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  7. ^ Babylonian Talmud Bava Kama 82a
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, p. 630
  10. ^ p. 2767, Alcalay
  11. ^ pp. 164–165, Scherman, Exodus 12:49
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament, ed. Eugene H. Merrill, Mark Rooker, Michael A. Grisanti, 2011, p, 163: "Part 4 The Pentateuch by Michael A. Grisanti: The Term 'Pentateuch' derives from the Greek pentateuchos, literally, ... The Greek term was apparently popularized by the Hellenized Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, in the first century AD..."
  14. ^ "Devdutt Pattanaik: The fascinating design of the Jewish Bible".
  15. ^ Hamilton (1990), p. 1
  16. ^ Bergant 2013, p. xii.
  17. ^ Bandstra 2008, p. 35.
  18. ^ Bandstra 2008, p. 78.
  19. ^ Bandstra (2004), pp. 28–29
  20. ^ Johnstone, p. 72.
  21. ^ Finkelstein, p. 68
  22. ^ Meyers, p. xv.
  23. ^ Ashley 1993, p. 1.
  24. ^ a b McDermott 2002, p. 21.
  25. ^ Olson 1996, p. 9.
  26. ^ Stubbs 2009, p. 19–20.
  27. ^ Phillips, pp.1–2
  28. ^ Rogerson, pp.153–154
  29. ^ Sommer, p. 18.
  30. ^ Bava Basra 14b
  31. ^ Louis Jacobs (1995). The Jewish religion: a companion. Oxford University Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0-19-826463-7. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  32. ^ Talmud, Bava Basra 14b
  33. ^ Mishnah, Sanhedrin 10:1
  34. ^ McDermott, John J., (2002). Reading the Pentateuch: a historical introduction. Pauline Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8091-4082-4. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
  35. ^ Riches, John (2000). The Bible: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 19–20. ISBN 978-0-19-285343-1.
  36. ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909). The Legends of the Jews Vol. IV: Ezra (Translated by Henrietta Szold) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
  37. ^ Ross, Tamar (2004). Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism. UPNE. p. 192
  38. ^ History Crash Course #36: Timeline: From Abraham to Destruction of the Temple, by Rabbi Ken Spiro, Aish.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ Nadler, Steven; Saebo, Magne (2008). Hebrew Bible / Old Testament: The History of its Interpretation, II: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 829. ISBN 3525539827. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  41. ^ Ibn Ezra, Deuteronomy 34:6
  42. ^ Ohr Ha'chayim Deuteronomy 34:6
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ Larry Siekawitch (2013), The Uniqueness of the Bible, pp 19–30
  45. ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909). Legends of the Jews Vol III: The Gentiles Refuse the Torah (Translated by Henrietta Szold) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
  46. ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909). Legends of the Jews Vol II: Job and the Patriarchs (Translated by Henrietta Szold) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
  47. ^ Ginzberg, Louis (1909). Legends of the Jews Vol I: The first things created (Translated by Henrietta Szold) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.
  48. ^ Book of Nehemia, Chapter 8
  49. ^ Source?
  50. ^ The Authentic Triennial Cycle: A Better Way to Read Torah? Archived 2012-08-17 at the Wayback Machine
  51. ^ [1] Archived August 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  52. ^ Rietti, Rabbi Jonathan. The Oral Law: The Heart of The Torah
  53. ^ Talmud, Gittin 60b
  54. ^ "FAQ for Humanistic Judaism, Reform Judaism, Humanists, Humanistic Jews, Congregation, Arizona, AZ". Oradam.org. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  55. ^ B. Barry Levi, Fixing God's Torah: The Accuracy of the Hebrew Bible Text in Jewish Law, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 4.
  56. ^ Mishnat Soferim The forms of the letters Archived 2008-05-23 at the Wayback Machine translated by Jen Taylor Friedman (geniza.net)
  57. ^ Chilton, BD. (ed), The Isaiah Targum: Introduction, Translation, Apparatus and Notes, Michael Glazier, Inc., p. xiii
  58. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, entry on Torah, Reading of
  59. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, entry on Bible: Translations
  60. ^ Greifenhagen, FV., Egypt on the Pentateuch's Ideological Map: Constructing Biblical Israel's Identity, Continuum, 2002, p. 218.
  61. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 3, p. 597
  62. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. III, p. 603
  63. ^ George Robinson (17 December 2008). Essential Torah: A Complete Guide to the Five Books of Moses. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-0-307-48437-6. Sa'adia's own major contribution to the Torah is his Arabic translation, Targum Tafsir.
  64. ^ Zion Zohar (June 2005). Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry: From the Golden Age of Spain to Modern Times. NYU Press. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-0-8147-9705-1. Controversy exists among scholars as to whether Rasag was the first to translate the Hebrew Bible into Arabic.
  65. ^ Is the Bible God's Word Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine by Sheikh Ahmed Deedat
  66. ^ 'Abdu'l Bahá's elucidations above in 1906 are found in his letter to Ethel Jenner Rosenberg

Bibliography

Further reading

  • Rothenberg, Naftali, (ed.), Wisdom by the week – the Weekly Torah Portion as an Inspiration for Thought and Creativity, Yeshiva University Press, New York 2012
  • 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 978-965-448-179-3
  • 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

External links

Bible

The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, tà biblía, "the books") is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

What is regarded as canonical text differs depending on traditions and groups; a number of Bible canons have evolved, with overlapping and diverging contents. The Hebrew Bible overlaps with the Greek Septuagint and the Christian Old Testament. The Christian New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, believed to be mostly Jewish disciples of Christ, written in first-century Koine Greek. Among Christian denominations there is some disagreement about what should be included in the canon, primarily about the Apocrypha, a list of works that are regarded with varying levels of respect.

Attitudes towards the Bible also differ among Christian groups. Roman Catholics, high church Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox Christians stress the harmony and importance of the Bible and sacred tradition, while Protestant churches, including Evangelical Anglicans, focus on the idea of sola scriptura, or scripture alone. This concept arose during the Protestant Reformation, and many denominations today support the use of the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian teaching.

The Bible has been a massive influence on literature and history, especially in the Western World, where the Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using movable type. According to the March 2007 edition of Time, the Bible "has done more to shape literature, history, entertainment, and culture than any book ever written. Its influence on world history is unparalleled, and shows no signs of abating." With estimated total sales of over 5 billion copies, it is widely considered to be the most influential and best-selling book of all time. As of the 2000s, it sells approximately 100 million copies annually.

Documentary hypothesis

The documentary hypothesis (DH) is a model used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Others are the supplementary hypothesis and the fragmentary hypothesis; all agree that the Torah is not a unified work from a single author, but is made up of sources combined over many centuries by many hands. They differ on the nature of these sources and how they were combined. According to the documentary hypothesis there were four sources, each originally a separate and independent book (a "document"), joined together at various points in time by a series of editors ("redactors"). Fragmentary hypotheses see the Torah as a collection of small fragments, and supplementary hypotheses as a single core document supplemented by fragments taken from many sources.A version of the documentary hypothesis, frequently identified with the German scholar Julius Wellhausen, was almost universally accepted for most of the 20th century, but the consensus has now collapsed. As a result, there has been a revival of interest in fragmentary and supplementary approaches, frequently in combination with each other and with a documentary model, making it difficult to classify contemporary theories as strictly one or another.Modern scholars increasingly see the completed Torah as a product of the time of the Achaemenid Empire (probably 450–350 BCE), although some would place its production in the Hellenistic period (333–164 BCE) or even the Hasmonean dynasty (140–37 BCE). Of its constituent sources, Deuteronomy is generally dated between the 7th and 5th centuries; there is much discussion of the unity, extent, nature, and date of the Priestly material. Deuteronomy continues to be seen as having had a history separate from the first four books, and that this historigraphic tradition is continued with the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings as Deuteronomistic history. There is a growing recognition that Genesis developed apart from the Exodus stories until joined to it by the Priestly writer.

Halakha

Halakha (; Hebrew: הֲלָכָה, Sephardic: [halaˈχa]; also transliterated as halacha, halakhah, halachah, or halocho) (Ashkenazic: [haˈloχo]) is the collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the written and Oral Torah. Halakha is based on biblical commandments (mitzvot), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic law, and the customs and traditions compiled in the many books such as the Shulchan Aruch. Halakha is often translated as "Jewish Law", although a more literal translation might be "the way to behave" or "the way of walking". The word derives from the root that means "to behave" (also "to go" or "to walk"). Halakha guides not only religious practices and beliefs, but also numerous aspects of day-to-day life.Historically, in the Jewish diaspora, halakha served many Jewish communities as an enforceable avenue of law – both civil and religious, since no differentiation exists in classical Judaism. Since the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah) and Jewish emancipation, some have come to view the halakha as less binding in day-to-day life, as it relies on rabbinic interpretation, as opposed to the pure, written words recorded in the Hebrew Bible. Under contemporary Israeli law, certain areas of Israeli family and personal status law are under the authority of the rabbinic courts, so are treated according to halakha. Some differences in halakha are found among Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sephardi, Yemenite, Ethiopian and other Jewish communities who historically lived in isolated communities.

Hebrew Bible

The Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh (; תַּנַ״ךְ, pronounced [taˈnaχ] or [təˈnax]; also Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) or Mikra, is the canonical collection of Jewish texts, which is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel, Ezra and a few others). The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT), and is divided into 24 books, while the Protestant Bible translations divide the same material into 39 books.

Modern scholars seeking to understand the history of the Hebrew Bible use a range of sources, in addition to the Masoretic Text. These sources include early Greek (Septuagint) and Syriac (Peshitta) translations, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and quotations from rabbinic manuscripts. Many of these sources may be older than the Masoretic Text and often differ from it. These differences have given rise to the theory that yet another text, an Urtext of the Hebrew Bible, once existed and is the source of the versions extant today. However, such an Urtext has never been found, and which of the three commonly known versions (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch) is closest to the Urtext is not fully determined.

Judaism

Judaism (originally from Hebrew יהודה, Yehudah, "Judah"; via Latin and Greek) is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non-Orthodox denominations. Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism's requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years. Judaism has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions. The Hebrews and Israelites were already referred to as "Jews" in later books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title "Children of Israel". Judaism's texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha'i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law. Hebraism was just as important a factor in the ancient era development of Western civilization as Hellenism, and Judaism, as the background of Christianity, has considerably shaped Western ideals and morality since Early Christianity.Jews are an ethnoreligious group including those born Jewish, in addition to converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, and other minority groups spread throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.

Kabbalah

Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה, literally "reception, tradition" or "correspondence":3) is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought of Judaism. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism is called a Mequbbāl (מְקוּבָּל). The definition of Kabbalah varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism, to its later adaptations in Western esotericism (Christian Kabbalah and Hermetic Qabalah). Jewish Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between God, the unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ein Sof (אֵין סוֹף, "The Infinite"), and the mortal and finite universe (God's creation). It forms the foundation of mystical religious interpretations within Judaism.Jewish Kabbalists originally developed their own transmission of sacred texts within the realm of Jewish tradition, and often use classical Jewish scriptures to explain and demonstrate its mystical teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances. One of the fundamental kabbalistic texts, the Zohar, was first published in the 13th century, and the almost universal form adhered to in modern Judaism is Lurianic Kabbalah.

Traditional practitioners believe its earliest origins pre-date world religions, forming the primordial blueprint for Creation's philosophies, religions, sciences, arts, and political systems. Historically, Kabbalah emerged after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, and was reinterpreted during the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine. Isaac Luria is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah; Lurianic Kabbalah was popularised in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th-century onwards. During the 20th-century, academic interest in Kabbalistic texts led primarily by the Jewish historian Gershom Scholem has inspired the development of historical research on Kabbalah in the field of Judaic studies.

Mishneh Torah

The Mishneh Torah (Hebrew: מִשְׁנֵה תּוֹרָה‎, "Repetition of the Torah"), subtitled Sefer Yad ha-Hazaka (ספר יד החזקה "Book of the Strong Hand"), is a code of Jewish religious law (Halakha) authored by Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as RaMBaM or "Rambam"). The Mishneh Torah was compiled between 1170 and 1180 CE (4930 and 4940 AM), while Maimonides was living in Egypt, and is regarded as Maimonides' magnum opus. Accordingly, later sources simply refer to the work as "Maimon", "Maimonides", or "RaMBaM", although Maimonides composed other works.

Mishneh Torah consists of fourteen books, subdivided into sections, chapters, and paragraphs. It is the only Medieval-era work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws that are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in existence, and remains an important work in Judaism.

Its title is an appellation originally used for the Biblical book of Deuteronomy, and its subtitle, "Book of the Strong Hand", derives from its subdivision into fourteen books: the numerical value fourteen, when represented as the Hebrew letters Yod (10) Dalet (4), forms the word yad ("hand").Maimonides intended to provide a complete statement of the Oral Law, so that a person who mastered first the Written Torah and then the Mishneh Torah would be in no need of any other book. Contemporary reaction was mixed, with strong and immediate opposition focusing on the absence of sources and the belief that the work appeared to be intended to supersede study of the Talmud. Maimonides responded to these criticisms, and the Mishneh Torah endures as an influential work in Jewish religious thought. According to several authorities, a decision may not be rendered in opposition to a view of Maimonides, even where he apparently militated against the sense of a Talmudic passage, for in such cases the presumption was that the words of the Talmud were incorrectly interpreted. Likewise: "One must follow Maimonides, even when the latter opposed his teachers, since he surely knew their views, and if he decided against them, he must have disapproved their interpretation."

Modern Orthodox Judaism

Modern Orthodox Judaism (also Modern Orthodox or Modern Orthodoxy) is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law with the secular, modern world.

Modern Orthodoxy draws on several teachings and philosophies, and thus assumes various forms. In the United States, and generally in the Western world, "Centrist Orthodoxy" – underpinned by the philosophy of Torah Umadda ("Torah and [Scientific] Knowledge") – is prevalent. In Israel, Modern Orthodoxy is dominated by Religious Zionism; however, although not identical, these movements share many of the same values and many of the same adherents.

Pharisees

The Pharisees () were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in the Holy Land during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.

Conflicts between Pharisees and Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews, made worse by the Roman conquest. Another conflict was cultural, between those who favored Hellenization (the Sadducees) and those who resisted it (the Pharisees). A third was juridico-religious, between those who emphasized the importance of the Second Temple with its rites and services, and those who emphasized the importance of other Mosaic Laws. A fourth point of conflict, specifically religious, involved different interpretations of the Torah and how to apply it to current Jewish life, with Sadducees recognizing only the Written Torah (with Greek philosophy) and rejecting doctrines such as the Oral Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and the resurrection of the dead.

Josephus (37 – c. 100 CE), believed by many historians to be a Pharisee, estimated the total Pharisee population before the fall of the Second Temple to be around 6,000. Josephus claimed that Pharisees received the full support and goodwill of the common people, apparently in contrast to the more elite Sadducees, who were the upper class. Pharisees claimed Mosaic authority for their interpretation of Jewish Laws, while Sadducees represented the authority of the priestly privileges and prerogatives established since the days of Solomon, when Zadok, their ancestor, officiated as High Priest. The phrase "common people" in Josephus' writings suggests that most Jews were "just Jewish people", distinguishing them from the main liturgical groups.

Outside Jewish history and literature, Pharisees have been made notable by references in the New Testament to conflicts with John the Baptist and with Jesus. There are also several references in the New Testament to the Apostle Paul being a Pharisee. The relationship between Early Christianity and the Pharisees depended on the individual; while numerous nameless Pharisees were portrayed as hostile, New Testament writings make mention of several Pharisees, including Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus and Gamaliel, who are sympathetic to Jesus and Christians.

Rabbinic Judaism

Rabbinic Judaism (Hebrew: יהדות רבנית Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Babylonian Talmud. Growing out of Pharisaic Judaism, Rabbinic Judaism is based on the belief that at Mount Sinai, Moses received from God the Written Torah (Pentateuch) in addition to an oral explanation, known as the "Oral Torah," that Moses transmitted to the people.

Rabbinic Judaism contrasts with the Sadducees, Karaite Judaism and Samaritanism, which do not recognize the oral law as a divine authority nor the rabbinic procedures used to interpret Jewish scripture. Although there are now profound differences among Jewish denominations of Rabbinic Judaism with respect to the binding force of halakha (Jewish religious law) and the willingness to challenge preceding interpretations, all identify themselves as coming from the tradition of the oral law and the rabbinic method of analysis.

Rabbinic literature

Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term Sifrut Hazal (Hebrew: ספרות חז"ל‎ "Literature [of our] sages," where Hazal normally refers only to the sages of the Talmudic era). This more specific sense of "Rabbinic literature"—referring to the Talmudim, Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש‎), and related writings, but hardly ever to later texts—is how the term is generally intended when used in contemporary academic writing. On the other hand, the terms meforshim and parshanim (commentaries/commentators) almost always refer to later, post-Talmudic writers of rabbinic glosses on Biblical and Talmudic texts.

This article discusses rabbinic literature in both senses. It begins with the classic rabbinic literature of the Talmudic era (Sifrut Hazal), and then adds a broad survey of rabbinic writing from later periods.

Revelation

In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

Sefer Torah

A Sefer Torah (Hebrew: ספר תורה; "Book of Torah" or "Torah scroll"; plural: ספרי תורה Sifrei Torah) is a handwritten copy of the Torah, the holiest book in Judaism. It must meet extremely strict standards of production. The Torah scroll is mainly used in the ritual of Torah reading during Jewish prayers. At other times, it is stored in the holiest spot within a synagogue, the Torah ark, which is usually an ornate curtained-off cabinet or section of the synagogue built along the wall that most closely faces Jerusalem, the direction Jews face when praying.

The text of the Torah is also commonly printed and bound in book form for non-ritual functions. It is then known as a Chumash ("five-part", for the five books of Moses), and is often accompanied by commentaries or translations.

Shavuot

Shavuot (listen ) or Shovuos (listen ), in Ashkenazi usage; Shavuʿoth in Sephardi and Mizrahi Hebrew (Hebrew: שָׁבוּעוֹת, lit. "Weeks"), is known as the Feast of Weeks in English and as Pentecost (Πεντηκοστή) in Ancient Greek. It is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (may fall between May 15 – June 14).Shavuot has a double significance. It marks the all-important wheat harvest in Israel (Exodus 34:22), and it commemorates the anniversary of the day when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai—although the association is not explicit in the Biblical text between the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) and Shavuot.

The holiday is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals. The word Shavuot means weeks, and it marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer. Its date is directly linked to that of Passover; the Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover, to be immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah. On Passover, the people of Israel were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot, they were given the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God. The yahrzeit of King David is traditionally observed on Shavuot. Hasidic Jews also observe the yahrzeit of the Baal Shem Tov.Shavuot is one of the less familiar Jewish holidays to secular Jews in the Jewish diaspora, while those in Israel and the Orthodox community are more aware of it. According to Jewish law, Shavuot is celebrated in Israel for one day and in the Diaspora for two days. Reform Judaism celebrates only one day, even in the Diaspora.

Torah ark

The ark in a synagogue (also called the Torah ark or holy ark) is a receptacle, or ornamental closet, which contains each synagogue's Torah scrolls (Sifrei Torah in Hebrew), also known as Heikhal in some Jewish dialects.

Torah reading

Torah reading (Hebrew: קריאת התורה, K'riat haTorah, "Reading [of] the Torah"; Ashkenazi pronunciation: Kriyas haToire) is a Jewish religious tradition 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 scroll (or scrolls) from the Torah ark, chanting the appropriate excerpt with special cantillation (trope), and returning the scroll(s) to the ark.

In Yeshivish, it is also called "leining" (lein is also spelt lain, leyn, layn; from the Yiddish leyenen, meaning simply "to read" originally).Regular public reading of the Torah was introduced by Ezra the Scribe after the return of the Judean exiles 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, 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 (known as a sedra or parashah) 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, Rosh Chodesh, and fast days, special sections connected to the day are read.

Many Jews observe an annual holiday, Simchat Torah, to celebrate the completion of the year's cycle of readings.

Torah study

Torah study is the study of the Torah, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism's religious texts. According to Rabbinic Judaism, the study is ideally done for the purpose of the mitzvah ("commandment") of Torah study itself.

This practice is present to an extent in all religious branches of Judaism and is considered of paramount importance among religious Jews. Torah study has evolved over the generations, as lifestyles changed and also as new texts were written.

United Torah Judaism

United Torah Judaism (Hebrew: יַהֲדוּת הַתּוֹרָה הַמְאוּחֶדֶת‎, Yahadut HaTora HaMeuhedet) is an alliance of Degel HaTorah, an Askenazi party and Agudat Israel, a Hasidic party. Both are ultra-Orthodox political parties in the Israeli Knesset. It was first formed in 1992.

The two parties have not always agreed with each other about policy matters. However, over the years, they have co-operated and united as a voting bloc in order to win the maximum number of seats in the Knesset, since many extra votes can be wasted if election thresholds are not attained under Israel's proportional representation parliamentary system.

When UTJ joined Ariel Sharon's coalition in 2004, it split into its two constituent factions of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel. Before the 2006 election, Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel agreed to revive their alliance under the banner of United Torah Judaism to not waste votes, and to achieve maximum representation in the 17th Knesset.

The party won 8 seats in the 21st Knesset elections in 2019, which was up from 6 seats in the 20th Knesset elections in 2015. This is, so far, the best best result of the party ever, making them the 4th-strongest party in the Knesset.

According to The New York Times, UTJ is notable for its embrace of technology and electronic communication systems, including the Internet, in contrast to Haredi tradition.

Weekly Torah portion

It is a custom among religious Jewish communities for a weekly Torah portion, popularly referred to as a parashah, to be read during Jewish prayer services. The parashah (Hebrew: פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ Parashat ha-Shavua), popularly just parashah (or parshah or parsha) and also known as a Sidra (or Sedra ) is a section of the Torah (Five Books of Moses) used in Jewish liturgy during a particular week. There are 54 weekly parashiyot (plural) or parshahs (anglicized pluralization), and the full cycle is read over the course of one Jewish year. Each Torah Portion consists of two to six chapters to be read during the week. Torah reading mostly follows an annual cycle beginning and ending on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, with the divisions corresponding to the lunisolar Hebrew calendar, which contains up to 55 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years. The annual completion of the Torah readings on Simchat Torah, translating to "Rejoicing in the Law", is marked by Jewish communities around the world. Each weekly Torah portion takes its name from the first distinctive word in the Hebrew text of the portion in question, often from the first verse.

The appropriate parashah is chanted publicly by a designated reader (ba'al koreh) in Jewish prayer services, starting with a partial reading on the afternoon of Shabbat (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath), again during the Monday and Thursday morning services, and ending with a full reading during the following Shabbat morning services. The weekly reading is pre-empted by a special reading on major religious holidays. The Saturday morning and holiday readings are followed by a reading (Haftarah) from the Book of Prophets (Nevi'im).

The custom dates to the time of the Babylonian captivity (6th century BCE). The origin of the first public Torah readings is found in the Book of Nehemiah, where Ezra the scribe writes about wanting to find a way to ensure the Israelites would not go astray again. This led to the creation of a weekly system to read the portions of the Torah at synagogues.In ancient times some Jewish communities practiced a triennial cycle of readings. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many congregations in the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements implemented an alternative triennial cycle in which only one-third of each weekly parashah was read in a given year; and this pattern continues. The parashot read are still consistent with the annual cycle but the entire Torah is completed over three years. Orthodox Judaism does not follow this practice.

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.

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