Sixteenth Century Torah Scroll in Hebrew. This scroll is transcribed on parchment and is approximately one hundred and sixty feet in length. The Torah, meaning “instruction” or “teaching” in Hebrew, is the central document of Judaism and consists of the first five books, the Pentateuch, of the twenty-four books of the Tanakh, which is the basis for the Christian Old Testament.
The five books of the Torah are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. It begins with God’s creation of the world in the Book of Genesis and ends with the death of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy. According to the Talmud, a central text of rabbinic law in Judaism, the Torah was written by Moses, except for the last eight verses of the Book of Deuteronomy, which were written by Joshua due to Moses’ death.
Reading the Torah is a religious ritual in Judaism that includes publicly reading a portion of the Torah once every three days in the attendance of a congregation and is the one of the central bases of Jewish communal life.