The Torah: David Wood, my favourite Islam fundi, can teach a Jew a thing or two

David Wood interviewed an ex-Muslim turned atheist, Heina Dadhaboy. 

One caller was a Jew (24 minutes from end of video), who said that David was incorrect in limiting the term “Torah” to the Pentateuch (Five books of Moses), because, he said, the Torah refers to all the books of the Hebrew Bible. Strictly speaking, the Jewish caller is wrong.

“To the fundamentalist Christian – says Rabbi Simchah Roth – the whole  Bible (and specifically what he terms the ‘Old Testament’) is the directly revealed word of God; while ancient Jewish tradition has ascribed that quality to the Torah, which is not true of the prophets and writings.”

Barry Freundel expresses a similar opinion. In his “Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s response to modernity, p. 11, he says” “While the prophets and the Writings also contain revelations from God, these do not achieve the level of the Mosaic revelation, and, as we have said are not sources of law. Rather they tell us a history, exhort to follow God’s commands, and offer understanding of the human condition.”

So the above Jewish hashkafah (perspective) of the Jewish Bible says that only the Torah is all from God, and the rest of the Jewish scriptures is a melange of man and God. The meaning of “Torah” can be confusing. The Jewish virtual library explains:

“The Written Law consists of the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. The term “Bible” is more commonly used by non-Jews, as are the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The appropriate term for Jews to use for the Hebrew Bible is “Tanakh.” Tanakh is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).”

“The Torah is also known as the Chumash, Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. The word “Torah” has the following meanings:

1. A scroll made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written in it by a sofer [ritual scribe]. This is the most limited definition.

2. More often, this term means the text of the Five Books of Moses, written in any format, whether Torah scroll, paperback book, CD­ROM, skywriting or any other media. Any printed version of the Torah (with or without commentary) can be called a Chumash or Pentateuch; however, one never refers to a Torah Scroll as a Chumash.”

Jewish denominations differ on which parts are more of man and less of God. Christian denominations also differ on which parts are from God, which from man.


The written and oral Torah: Which is primary?

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