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  • Torah or Chumash

    A Torah scroll, in Hebrew Sefer Torah (Hebrew: סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה‎; "Book of Torah"; plural: סִפְרֵי תּוֹרָה‎ Sifrei Torah), is a handwritten copy of the Torah, meaning: of the Pentateuch (Chumash), or the First Five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). The word "Chumash" or "Chummash) means 'onefifth of the Torah. The word 'Torah' comes from the Hebrew word toh-rah, which is translated as "instruction, "teaching" or "law" (Proverbs 1:8, 3:1, 28:4). It is stored in the holiest spot within a synagogue, the aron kodesh (Ark of the Covenant), which is usually an ornate curtained-off cabinet or section of the synagogue built along the wall that most closely faces Jerusalem, the direction Jews face when praying.

    The text of the Torah is also commonly printed and bound in book form for non-ritual functions. It is then known as a Chumash (plural Chumashim) ("five-part", for the five books of Moses), and is often accompanied by commentaries or translations.

    Torah reading from a Sefer Torah or Torah scroll is traditionally reserved for Monday and Thursday mornings, as well as for Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The presence of a quorum of ten Jewish adults (minyan) is required for the reading of the Torah to be held in public during the course of the worship services. As the Torah is sung, following the often dense text is aided by a (yad) hand, a metal or wooden hand-shaped pointer that protects the scrolls by avoiding unnecessary contact of the skin with the parchment.

    All Jewish prayers start with a blessing (berakhah), thanking God for Him revealing the Law to the Jews (Matan Torah), before Torah reading and all days during the first blessings (berakhot) of the morning prayer (Shacharit).

    Halakha (/hɑːˈlɔːxə/;[1] Hebrew: הֲלָכָה, Sephardic: [halaˈχa]), also transliterated as halacha, halakhah, and halocho (Ashkenazic: [haˈloχo]), is the collective body of Jewish religious laws which is derived from the written and Oral Torah. Halakha is based on biblical commandments (mitzvot), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic laws, and the customs and traditions which were compiled in the many books such as the Shulchan Aruch. Halakha is often translated as "Jewish law", although a more literal translation of it might be "the way to behave" or "the way of walking". The word is derived from the root which means "to behave" (also "to go" or "to walk"). Halakha not only guides religious practices and beliefs, it also guides numerous aspects of day-to-day life.

    According to Jewish law a Sefer Torah is a copy of the formal Hebrew text of the Torah hand-written on special types of parchment by using a quill or another permitted writing utensil, dipped in ink. Producing a Torah scroll fulfills one of the 613 commandments. The parchment (k'laf) on which the Torah scroll is written, the hair or sinew with which the panels of parchment are sewn together, and the quill pen with which the text is written all must come from ritually clean —that is, kosher— animals.

    Written entirely in Hebrew, a Torah scroll contains 304,805 letters, all of which must be duplicated precisely by a trained scribe, or sofer, an effort which may take as long as approximately one and a half years. An error during transcription may render the Torah scroll pasul ("invalid"). According to the Talmud, all scrolls must also be written on gevil parchment that is treated with salt, flour and m'afatsim (a residue of wasp enzyme and tree bark) in order to be valid. Scrolls not processed in this way are considered invalid (Hilkoth Tefillin 1:8 & 1:14, Maimonides).

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