Torah: The Basics

The Torah is the foundation of our Jewish beliefs and religious practice. It is sometimes known as the Old Testament, but that is a Christian term, we call it the Torah. It is part of the Jewish Bible. The Jewish Bible contains some other books as well.

The Torah contains the five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It is the story of the creation of the world and our growth into the Jewish people. It contains the stories of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and our foremothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. As well as the story of Mose and the exodus from Egypt.

The Torah contains the 613 mitzvot (commandments) that we as Jews believe G-d has commanded us to follow. They include that fact that we have one G-d, we are not supposed to steal, lie under oath, or murder. We are supposed to celebrate the holidays, honor our parents, and take care of the sick.

The Torah is handwritten on a scroll of parchment. They are beautiful and precious. One of my favorite things about the way that we read Torah is that the is divided into weekly portions that are spread out throughout the year. No matter where you are in the world all Jews are reading the exact same part of the Torah.

During the holiday of Simchat Torah, we celebrate coming to the end of the Torah scroll and rewinding the Torah and starting again.

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