There are three distinct ways in which the term "Torah" is used by Jews. The narrowest meaning is the Five Books of Moses:

Hebrew Name English Name Content
Beraishit Genesis The story of humanity from the time of Creation, through the election of Abraham, until Joseph's time in Egypt.
Shemot Exodus The account of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the beginning of the journey through the Wilderness, the revelation at Mount Sinai, and the laws concerning the Tabernacle.
Vayikra Leviticus The laws concerning the priests and the sacrifices made in the Wilderness Tabernacle.
Bemidbar Numbers An account of the events of the Israelites 40-year journey from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).
Devarim Deuteronomy Moses recapitulation of the events since the Exodus, and his final exhortations to the Israelites prior to their entrance into Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).

The Five Books of Moses are revered above all others by Jews. They are lovingly transcribed by hand on parchment scrolls and kept in an ark in the synagogue. They are read and studied throughout the year for the constitute the religious constitution of the Jewish people.

Judaism knows of two Torahs: a written Torah and an oral Torah. According to tradition, at the time God gave Moses the Torah just referred to on Mount Sinai, God also transmitted an Oral Torah which was passed down by word of mouth for many, many generations. Finally, after the Destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.), when the Jewish people was threatened with extinction, it became necessary to write down the Oral Torah in order to preserve it. The Oral Torah referred to in this tradition is none other than the Talmud. In fact, the Talmud consists of the Mishnah (the core material, compiled by Judah HaNasi around 200 C.E., but containing teachings of the first century B.C.E. and the first and second centuries C.E., and the Gemara, a commentary and expansion of the Mishnah which was written and redacted over the course of four centuries in the academies of Babylonia (from 200 until approximately 600 C.E.). The Rabbis who wrote the Talmud claimed that it had been given on Mount Sinai along with the Written Torah (the Five Books of Moses) thereby claiming for it the same authoritative status. The system of Dual Torahs is the prevailing understanding of Torah in the Jewish world. The legislation, values, and teachings of the Talmud are essential the Judaism of today, as the Torah is foundational to Judaism. It is also important to note that there is a second Talmud, which was written in Palestine during the time that the Babylonian Talmud was produced. You can learn more about Jewish holy books by clicking here.

The third understanding of Torah might be termed "torah." It is what happens anytime Jews meet to study sacred texts, exchange their interpretations and seek new meaning in the holy words of our tradition: torah passes between them. The Torah Tradition is enlarged and enriched, as are their lives through the study of Torah.

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