What is Torah?
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).
In its most basic definition, Torah is considered to be Genesis (B’rosheet), Exodus (Sh’mot), Leviticus (V’Yikra), Numbers (B’Midvar), and Deuteronomy (D’Varim)–the first five books of the Bible in the Old Testament.
Torah forms the foundation upon which our Christian faith stands; Yeshua (Jesus) is foreshadowed in the Torah. The basic sacraments (salvation, baptism, communion, prayer, blessing) originate in Torah. All of the concepts associated with the Gospel (God, holiness, righteousness, sin, sacrifice, repentance, faith, forgiveness, covenant, grace, the kingdom of heaven on earth) are introduced in Torah. The concept of faith in Yeshua as Messiah is rooted in Torah.
Unfortunately, in most English bibles the Hebrew word torah has been mistranslated “law.” It is called the “Law of Moses” because it was written by Moses. Torah (from the Hebrew root yara) actually means “to instruct,” “to teach.” Torah does recite laws, but it is really God’s “teaching” and “instruction.” Torah’s meaning can be expanded to refer to the whole Bible. The New Testament (the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, Revelation) can also be considered Torah, because it is all God’s instruction, and it is all rooted in the Torah of Moses.
Torah’s original five books relate the story of the formation of Israel as a people and as a nation. All believers have Torah as common ground–our shared origin. It is God’s book. His Story.
The Torah Cycle: The Weekly Synagogue Reading
“For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21).
It is amazing to realize that through thousands of years every synagogue around the world still reads from the identical Torah portion each week. The readings begin with Genesis 1:1 in September or October. Several chapters are read aloud to the congregation in Hebrew each week—a total of fifty-four Torah portions. Each reading for the week is called a parashah, which means “portion.” The names of the weekly portions derive from a significant Hebrew word in the first sentence of that week’s reading. A year after beginning the first portion, the congregation finishes Deuteronomy, rerolls the Torah Scroll and begins Genesis again. This Simcha Torah (Joy of Torah) Service demonstrates that there is no end to Torah! The weekly Torah Cycle includes a reading from the Prophets. Messianic believers also incorporate a portion from the New Covenant into their weekly reading.