Torah

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(CC) Photo: David Lisbona
Torah scrolls. Bet El Synagogue, Casablanca, Morocco.

The Torah (תורה), literally "Teaching" or "Instruction," is the holiest book of Judaism. It originally referred to the Teachings of Moses, as written down in the Five Books of Moses, which open the Tenach (Jewish Bible).

Later it came to include the entire set of teachings relating to Judaism, including the entire "Written Torah" or Torah Shebichtav, consisting of the 24 books of the Tenach; and the "Oral Torah" or Torah Shebe'al Peh, which consists of the "Midrashim" (homiletic interpretations), Mishna, Talmud, Commentaries, Books of Religious Law etc.

Pentateuch

The central texts of Judaism are the Five Books of Moses, known in Hebrew as Chamisha Chumshei Torah (חמישה חומשי תורה) and in English as the Pentateuch.

It consists of:

  1. Bereshit (Genesis), detailing the history of mankind and the Patriarchs of the People of Israel, up to the exile into Egypt
  2. Shemot (Exodus), the history of the People of Israel in Egypt, their miraculous Exodus, their early travels in the Wilderness, the reception of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, and the establishment of the Tabernacle
  3. Vayikra (Leviticus), laying down many Commandments, most of which relate to the Sacrificial Worship
  4. Bamidbar (Numbers), the later part of Israel's travels through the Wilderness
  5. Devarim (Deuteronomy). The final book of the Pentateuch (see article).