The Way Into Torah

Author : Norman J. Cohen

Available : YES
Age Group :Adults
The 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

The 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

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