Rabbi's Corner 





The written Torah - "Torah" refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.


Written Torah is often referred to as the Tanakh, which is an acrostic of Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim.


Below is a list of the books of the Written Torah, in the order in which they appear in Jewish translations, with the Hebrew name of the book, a translation of the Hebrew name (where it is not the same as the English name), and English names of the books (where it is not the same as the Hebrew name). The Hebrew names of the first five books are derived from the first few words of the book.


TORAH (The Law):

Bereishith (In the beginning...) (Genesis)

Shemoth (The names...) (Exodus)

Vayiqra (And He called...) (Leviticus)

Bamidbar (In the wilderness...) (Numbers)

Devarim (The words...) (Deuteronomy)



The collective term for the books of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. The Nevi'im contain the prophets' interpretation of history as a means of expressing G-d's will for the people. Together they act as G-d's spokesperson, explaining to the people what actions and attitudes G-d wanted. For example, they spoke against immorality and reminded Jews of their duty to follow G-d's commandments and not stray from the path of right actions.




The collective term for the books of the Hebrew Bible, excluding those of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and the Nevi'im (the books of the prophets). The Ketuvim include Proverbs, Job, Psalms, and the five megillot (books such as Esther and Ruth).



Torah Scrolls

The scriptures that we use in services are written on parchment scrolls. They are always hand-written, in attractive Hebrew calligraphy with "crowns" (crows-foot-like marks coming up from the upper points) on many of the letters. This style of writing is known as STA"M (an abbreviation for "Sifrei Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzot," which is where you will see that style of writing.

You are not supposed to touch the parchment on these scrolls; some say because they are too holy;  others say because your fingers' sweat has acids that will damage the parchment over time. Instead, you follow the text with a pointer, called a Yad. "Yad" means "hand" in Hebrew, and the pointer usually is in the shape of a hand with a pointing index finger. The scrolls are kept covered with fabric, and often ornamented with silver crowns on the handles of the scrolls and a silver breastplate on the front.

The scrolls are kept in a cabinet in the synagogue called an "ark," as in Ark of the Covenant. The is an acrostic of "aron kodesh," meaning "holy cabinet."

The Torah scrolls that we read from in synagogue are unpointed text, with no vowels or musical notes, so the ability to read a passage from a scroll is a valuable skill, and usually requires substantial advance preparation (reviewing the passage in a text with points).




 The word "chumash" comes from the Hebrew word meaning five, and refers to the five books of the Torah.  A chumash contains the entire first five books of the Torah, divided up into the weekly parsha's, with the haftarah portion inserted after each week's parsha.

Haftorah - a short selection from the Prophets read on every Sabbath  following a reading from the Torah 
Shabbat Shalom
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