Torah life with heart


The Torah (or “Chumash”, also “Pentateuch of Moses” in Christian translations) is the most important book for the Jewish religion.

The books of the Prophets, the Scriptures, and even the Mishnah are a natural continuation of the Torah and would not have been possible without it.

How is the Torah organized?

The Torah consists of five books, which, in turn, are divided into chapters. This division is arbitrary to some extent. It is made so that “navigation” through the book is convenient and you can easily find the right place.

There is a Talmudic rule: “There is no earlier and no later in the Torah.” This means that in the Torah the order of events does not always coincide with their sequence. However, there is, of course, a certain sequence:

The first book “Beresheet”

Covers events from the creation of the world to the departure of the family of the forefather Jacob to Egypt.

The second book  “Shemot”

Describes the stay of the Jews in Egyptian slavery, tells about the Exodus from Egypt, the Sinai Revelation and the episode with the creation of the Golden Calf, and ends with a description of the construction of a portable Temple – the Mishkan.

The third book “Vayikra”

Is mainly devoted to the laws of sacrifice and the duties of kohanim, as well as the laws of ritual purity.

The fourth book “Bemidbar”

Contains a summary of many important laws, and also talks about what happened to the Jewish people in the wilderness before crossing the Jordan River.

The fifth book “Devarim”

Is mostly Moshe’s address to the people before entering the Land of Israel. The book ends with a description of the death of Moshe and the transition of the leadership of the people to Yehoshua Bin-Nun.

How to read Torah?

The sages of the Talmudic era and later times point out that it is best to read the Torah in Hebrew, because any translation, in fact, is an interpretation of the text and is not able to convey the fullness of its meanings.

However, everyone agrees that if a person does not know Hebrew, he should study the Torah in any language he understands. On our website, we offer you a translation made under the editorship of. prof. D.Josifon.

Parshat-ha-shavua (Weekly section of the Torah)

In addition to the division into books, which we mentioned, the Torah is divided into chapters. It is customary to read a chapter every week during the year (sometimes two chapters are combined – it depends on whether it is a leap year or not).

Such a chapter is called “parshat-a-shavua” – a weekly section. The order of reading among Jews all over the world is common: they begin the reading cycle on the holiday “Simchat Torah” and read a chapter every week.

In the synagogue, every Monday and Thursday, fragments from the weekly chapter are read from the Torah scroll, and on Shabbat, the entire chapter is read.

The study of “parshat ha-shavua” is an important part of Jewish intellectual life. Many Jewish newspapers, magazines and online publications make sure to publish reviews of the weekly chapter with commentary by leading rabbis or scholars. The sermons of rabbis in all the synagogues of the world are usually built around the weekly chapter.

Within each chapter there is another division into seven parts. – by the number of days of the week and by the number of people called to the Torah on Shabbat (for more details on the procedure for reading the Torah in the synagogue, see here).

A common way to study Parshat-a-Shavua individually is to study one such passage every day at some set time for yourself.

But, of course, you can study the Torah from any place and in any volume – the main thing is to do it as often as possible.

What is important to remember when studying Torah?

In Judaism, it is customary to treat both the Torah and other important books with care and respect. On the so-called. “sifrey kodesh” – “holy books” – do not put other books, they are not used as a stand for other objects.

If books (and even computer printouts) of Torah texts become unusable, they are not thrown away, but handed over to the genizah.

The Mishnah “Avot” says: “Make the Torah your portion.” This, in particular, means that we should try to make Torah study as regular as possible. Jewish sources unanimously speak of the importance of the principle “even if a little, but often” in relation to the study of the Torah.

It is very important for your future studies to know all the main plots and the sequence of their location in the Torah, to navigate the events and characters described. This will be invaluable to you when reading any Jewish books.

Remember: learning is a multi-faceted process. It is also good to study alone, but it is better if you involve your family and friends in this process.

Your age, education and occupation, as well as “lack of ability” in no way can be an obstacle to the successful study of the Torah!

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