Torah has always been the focus of rabbinic teaching. Unfortunately, the Hebrew word "torah" is usually translated in English simply as "law," which has created the impression that it has to do only with commandments. This is not the case at all. The Torah was given by God as a guideline for a whole way of life. A better translation would be "God’s instructions."
Torah has always been the focus of rabbinic teaching. Unfortunately, the Hebrew word תּוֹרָה (tōrāh) is usually translated in English simply as “law,” which has created the impression that it has to do only with commandments. This is not the case at all. The Torah was given by God as a guideline for a whole way of life. A better translation would be “God’s instructions.”
Written Torah, תּוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב (tōrāh shebichtāv), consists of the instruction God gave to Israel at Sinai contained in the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Israel’s sages believed that in addition to this written revelation, Moses received further instruction, which was communicated orally. These added instructions were the beginning of the Oral Torah, תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה (tōrāāh shebe‘al peh).
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David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew… [Read more about author]