[b-hebrew] Torah

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Fri Aug 13 11:42:18 EDT 2004

Here's an interesting topic for discussion: Just what does the word "Torah"
mean. Below are two recent posts by two Jewish women, Marianne and
Shoshanna. Both, I would assume, have immense reverence for "the Torah", but
they use the word in different ways. Notice that Marianne capitalizes the
word "Law". Shoshanna does not, even though Marianne claims that the Torah
is holy "beyond" the Law, and Shoshanna says that it's holy because of the
law (or at least, that the law is part of its holiness).

SO, what does the noun "torah" mean. Does in mean "law"? If so, what's the
difference between "torah", "xoq", "micwah" etc.

Is "teaching" a better translation? Or "instruction".

Obviously, one, narrow, meaning, is "Pentateuch", the five books of Moses.
Does any "later" biblical book use the word with this meaning?

In Judaism, "Torah" can mean:
a. The law (or Law) given by Moses.
b. The book(s) in which that law was written (traditionally by Moses) - the
c. The whole concept of all the Law(s) given to Moses, including the Oral
d. The entire body of Jewish learning, including the whole Tanakh, the
Talmuds, and the whole body of rabbinic literature. In a Jewish setting,
"learning Torah" is likely to mean studying the Talmud and its rabbinic
commentaries that the Bible.
e. All of Jewish thought, custom and ritual.

In many ways, this is similar to the way "Gospel" is used in Christianity
(though with a different meaning):
a. The "Good News" brought by Jesus.
b. The specific NT books that tell the story of Jesus.
c. The message of Christianity, as set out in the NT and in other writings.
d. The entire Christian way of thought, "evangelism" (e.g. "Gospel Music").

Any thoughts?


>Our Torah has been
> revered for so many generations, I believe, not just because it
> contains the Law
> of Moses.  I think it goes beyond even that and that Jews even forgot why
> Torah is so holy and just assumed it must be on account of the Law.

> That is not true at all.  Some Jews may have forgotten, but most of
> the Jews I know, know without a doubt that the Torah (written and
> oral) contains within it all knowledge, past present and future, and
> that the law it contains is DAVKA for the purpose of connecting
> ourselves with that holiness.
> Shoshanna
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