E_statisches Bild der interaktiven Figur »Changeling«
T

Available terms:

Can't find a term?

Please let us know if there is a term you would like to see explained here.

Suggest glossary term

Torah

The Torah (»teaching« in Hebrew) consists of five scrolls and is the first of the three parts of the Hebrew Bible. The five books of the written Torah, which contain God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai, are named after the words with which each book begins:

  • Bereshit (First Book of Moses, »Genesis« in Greek), named after the words »In the beginning,« which begin the story of Creation.
  • Shemot (Second Book of Moses, »Exodus« in Greek), named after the words »These are the names.«
  • Vayikra (Third Book of Moses, »Levitikus« in Greek), named after the words »And He called.«
  • Bamidbar (Fourth Book of Moses, »Numeri« in Greek), named after the words »In the desert.«
  • Dvarim (Fifth Book of Moses, »Deutoronomium« in Greek), named after the words »These are the words.«

Studying the Torah is no quiet matter; it’s supposed to involve discussion and debate. Two or more people read the texts aloud and discuss what they have read—often in the Beth Midrash, or house of learning. Reading and understanding the Torah is meant to be a lively process that involves not only learning a text by heart but also questioning it.

Torah scroll
Detail of a 300-year-old Torah scroll
© Jewish Museum Berlin

Torah scroll

The Torah scroll has a special meaning in Judaism. It is stored in the Torah ark behind the Torah curtain and removed from there for worship services. The Torah scroll is protected by a Torah mantle and decorated by both a Torah shield and Torah finials. A Torah pointer makes it easier for people to read from the work, since they are forbidden to touch it.

One section of the Torah is read every Shabbat. The sections are divided in such a way that the Torah is read from start to finish in the course of a year.

Torah scrolls are made of parchment and are handwritten by a Torah scribe. A damaged Torah scroll is not thrown away, but buried in a cemetery.

writing the Torah
A Torah scribe makes a correction on the Torah scroll
© Jewish Museum Berlin