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Outline ReviewThe Torah, strictly identified as the first five books of the Bible, has often been defined in far more expansive terms. One rabbinic tradition employs water as a metaphor for the Torah, suggesting that reading the Torah is, for Jews, literally the most important nourishment in life. Norman J. Cohen, rabbi and Midrash professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, endorses that definition in The Way into Torah, an excellent introduction to a central practice of Jewish worship and life. The commandment to read the Torah, Cohen argues, is "the paramount commandment, since without it one cannot understand what God demands of us, and therefore it must lead to action, both ritually and ethically. It is not enough to study in order to merely gain knowledge; the study of the Torah must affect our lives in every way." After describing Torah study as an obligation for all Jews and then exploring the many definitions of the Torah that Jews have propounded, Cohen describes the ways that Jews have interacted with the Torah (from Midrash, an imaginative reading style that adds new chapters to classic Bible stories, to strictly rational legal readings). For Cohen, the Torah is simply the most powerful means by which Jews may experience God's presence. For readers who require testimonial, Cohen has assembled a cloud of witnesses ranging from Rabbi Hillel to the actor Kirk Douglas, who once told a group of acting students: "Study the Torah--all the best scripts are there. Whatever dramatic device you can dream up, God thought of it first." --Michael Joseph Gross
For everyone who wants to understand Torah, this book shows the way into an essential aspect of Judaism, and allows you to interact directly with the sacred texts of the Jewish tradition.
Guided by Dr. Norman J. Cohen, Rabbi and Professor of Midrash at Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion, The Way Into Torah helps us explore the origins and development of Torah, why it should be studied and how to do it.
What Torah is. The texts, and beyond: Not simply the Five Books of Moses, Torah refers to much more than written words. The different approaches to studying Torah. The many ways Jews have interacted with Torah through the ages and how, by learning to read Torah ourselves, we can connect it to our lives today. The levels of understanding Torah. How Torah can come alive in different ways, at different times; and how new meanings of Torah are discovered by its readers. Why Torah study is a part of the Jewish experience. How it allows us to experience Gods presenceand why the Rabbis called Torah study more important even than belief in God.
This guide offers an entrance to the world of Torah, and to its meaning for our lives. The Way Into Torah shows us why reading Torah is not the same as reading anything elseand enables us to become a part of a chain of Jewish tradition that began millennia ago, and remains unbroken today.
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