Torah is a Hebrew word meaning "teaching," "instruction," or "law". It is the central and most important document of Judaism revered by Jews through the ages. It is written in Hebrew, the oldest Jewish language. It is also called the Law of Moses (Torat Moshe). Torah primarily refers to the first section of the Tanakh–the first five books of the Tanach. The term is sometimes also used in the general sense to also include both of Judaism's written law and oral law, encompassing the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, the Midrash, and more.
The five books are as follows:
Genesis (Bereshit: "In the beginning...")
Exodus (Shemot: "Names")
Leviticus ( "And he called...")
Numbers (Bammidbar: "In the desert..."), and
Deuteronomy (Devarim: "Words", or "Discourses")
The Torah is also known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch (Greek for "five containers," which refers to the scroll cases in which books were being kept). Other names include Hamisha Humshei Torah ( "[the] five fifths/parts [of the] Torah") or simply the Humash ( "fifth"). A Sefer Torah is a formal written scroll of the five books, written by a Torah scribe under exceptionally strict requirements.
For Jews, the Torah was traditionally accepted as the literal word of God as told to Moses. For many, it is neither exactly history, nor theology, nor legal and ritual guide, but something beyond all three. It is the primary guide to the relationship between God and man, and the whole meaning and purpose of that relationship, a living document that unfolds over generations and millennia.
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