Torah


Torah
/toh"reuh, tawr"euh/; Seph. Heb. /toh rddah"/; Ashk. Heb. /toh"rddeuh, toy"rddeuh/, n. (sometimes l.c.)
1. the Pentateuch, being the first of the three Jewish divisions of the Old Testament. Cf. Tanach.
2. a parchment scroll on which the Pentateuch is written, used in synagogue services.
3. the entire body of Jewish religious literature, law, and teaching as contained chiefly in the Old Testament and the Talmud.
4. law or instruction.
Also, Tora.
[ < Heb torah instruction, law]

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I

In Judaism, the divine revelations to Israel; specifically, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

By tradition their authorship has been ascribed to Moses, but biblical scholarship has shown that they were written and compiled at a much later date, probably in the 9th–5th century BC, though drawing on much older traditions. The Scroll of the Torah (Sefer Torah) is kept in the Synagogue Ark. The term Torah (but not Pentateuch) is often applied to the whole Hebrew Scripture (i.e., the later books of the Old Testament), or, even more generally, to that and other Jewish sacred literature and oral tradition.
II
(as used in expressions)

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▪ sacred text
  in Judaism, in the broadest sense the substance of divine revelation to Israel, the Jewish people: God's revealed teaching or guidance for mankind. The meaning of “Torah” is often restricted to signify the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the Law or the Pentateuch. These are the books traditionally ascribed to Moses, the recipient of the original revelation from God on Mount Sinai. Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant canons all agree on their order: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

      The written Torah, in the restricted sense of the Pentateuch, is preserved in all Jewish synagogues on handwritten parchment scrolls that reside inside the ark of the Law. They are removed and returned to their place with special reverence. Readings from the Torah (Pentateuch) form an important part of Jewish liturgical services.

      The term Torah is also used to designate the entire Hebrew Bible. Since for some Jews the laws and customs passed down through oral traditions are part and parcel of God's revelation to Moses and constitute the “oral Torah,” Torah is also understood to include both the Oral Law and the Written Law.

      Rabbinic commentaries on and interpretations of both Oral and Written Law have been viewed by some as extensions of sacred oral tradition, thus broadening still further the meaning of Torah to designate the entire body of Jewish laws, customs, and ceremonies.

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Universalium. 2010.

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