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The Way into Torah [Hardcover]

By Norman J. Cohen (Author)
Our Price $ 18.66  
Retail Value $ 21.95  
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Item Number 115996  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   145
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6.29" Height: 0.74"
Weight:   0.88 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 2000
Publisher   Jewish Lights Publishing
ISBN  1580230288  
EAN  9781580230285  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
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

Product Description
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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More About Norman J. Cohen

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Dr. Norman J. Cohen is widely recognized as one of the great teachers of his generation. A rabbi, professor emeritus of midrash and former provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he frequently lectures to Jewish and Christian laypeople and scholars on Bible study and midrash-finding contemporary meaning from ancient biblical texts. Cohen was a participant in Bill Moyers's Genesis: A Living Conversation on PBS. He is author of Self, Struggle & Change: Family Conflict Stories in Genesis and Their Healing Insights for Our Lives; Voices from Genesis: Guiding Us through the Stages of Life; Moses and the Journey to Leadership: Timeless Lessons of Effective Management from the Bible and Today's Leaders; Hineni in Our Lives: Learning How to Respond to Others through 14 Biblical d104s & Personal Stories and The Way Into Torah (all Jewish Lights).

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Great Introduction to Torah Study  Dec 21, 2005
Rabbi Cohen does not go into an analysis of the substantive content of the Torah. Rather, he defines what Torah is, who should study it, and what the levels of meaning are. Torah, in its narrowest sense, comprises the first five Books of the Tanach. It is what is sometimes referred to as the Pentatuch. Torah study is broader in that the entire Bible or Tanach is Torah study. Commentaries also constitute Torah study since tradition has it that oral, as well as written Torah was revealed on Mount Sinai. Commentaries and oral Torah are often set forth in Talmud. In the broadest sense, Any sincere study of Judaism is Torah study.

The study of Torah is for everyone. Rabbi Cohen cites a tradition that each should study to his or her ability. Some, particularly children, may not be able to see much beyond the Biblical stories. On the other end of the spectrum, each word in the entire Tanach is considered by some to be coded. Thus, the words are cross referenced and parsed in order to discover mystical meanings that are not readily apparent.

The levels of Torah study are the plain meaning of the written words of the Torah, allegorical interpretation which use the words for deeper meanings, midrash which are tales and stories that fill in the gaps of the text but have no direct support in the written text, and mystical interpretation. Torah study is a lifetime endeavor. You are never finished with your study. The more you study, the more you discover and study may lead you into the deeper levels set forth above. This book is a wonderful introduction and I highly recommend it.
If All Sermons Were This Good . . .  Sep 26, 2001
As others have noted, The Way Into Torah provides a very accessible introduction to Torah study. Dr. Cohen does a masterful job of explaining basic terms and concepts without talking down to the reader, and covers quite a bit of material in this rather short book. I have only one complaint. Although Dr. Cohen acknowledges that the Torah consists of much more than the Chumash (and uses the Midrash Rabbah extensively throughout the book), he barely mentions the two extra-biblical works that have been at the heart of Torah study for centuries -- the Mishnah and the Talmud. Perhaps the decision to more or less ignore the Talmud was based on a judgment that beginners should begin with the more familiar, and in some sense "easier," Chumash. If that judgment was made, however, I would have liked to have seen it spelled out in the text, with at least enough information provided about the Talmud to whet the student's appetite for more.

Nevertheless, if you are considering starting out on a program of Torah study, this is an excellent place to get your bearings. Dr. Cohen not only provides the basic information you need, but also explains why Torah study is important and how it can transform our lives. His love of Torah study comes across on every page, and he succeeds in making the reader want to share that experience. If all sermons were this good, you would already be studying Torah and wouldn't need this book. Until that day comes, this book ably fills the gap in both information and inspiration.

Superbly written and highly accessible  Jan 11, 2001
The Way Into Torah is a superbly written, highly accessible introduction for the general reading seeking guidance on how to effectively read, study, and understand the Torah, including the other books of the Bible and the related sacred texts that grew up around it. Norman Cohen is Rabbi and Professor of Midrash at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, and brings his expertise and experience to bear in presenting just what the Torah is and how it came about, the different approaches to studying the Torah, the various levels of understanding the Torah, and what the Torah study is an essential aspect of the Jewish experience. The Way Into Torah is an ideal beginning point for commencing a personal study of the Torah.
An Insightful Entry Into Torah!  Aug 27, 2000
As I child, I was taught a bit about the Bible, but not muchof it stuck. As an adult, bouncing from teacher to teacher, tradition to tradition, I have never really come back to trying to open the Bible and understand what it might mean for me. I can tell you that this book is a great entry to getting started. I found it very helpful in the ways it is organized, and full of insights.Highly recommended.

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