What is a Torah?
A Torah is a printed copy, or a parchment scroll, of the text of the Torah in Hebrew.
Our tradition is that the Torah was given by God (Exodus 24:12), to provide knowledge, guidance, inspiration, awe and reverence, advice, law, comfort, history and more. It is the basis of Judaism.
The Torah is a source of national pride for us (see Deuteronomy 4:6-8).
It increases our reverence towards God; crystallizes, strengthens and codifies our beliefs; ensures our awareness and knowledge of our history; and provides powerful impetus to be ethical.
It makes us stand in awe of God, while also providing optimism and comfort through the prophecies of redemption. It inspires us to strive for holiness and informs us how to pray and to approach God's presence.
It gives us a great deal of general information, guidance and advice.
And it sets detailed laws, practices and traditions for us.
The laws have various reasons. Some (such as the Passover) serve to reenact or remember events of our history.
Some (such as saying the Shema-prayer) serve to reiterate our belief in God.
Some of the laws (such as those of ritual purity and kosher food) serve to sanctify us.
Some (such as the laws of torts) serve to maintain an orderly and just society.
Some (such as the law against breaking a vow) serve to prevent bad character traits.
Some (such as the command to offer help) serve to engender good character traits.
And all of the commands serve to subjugate us to God's will (especially those commands for which no explanation is easily apparent).
Some examples of the commands:
- Putting on Tefillin (phylacteries) in the morning
- Saying the Shema-prayer
- Sitting in the sukkah during Sukkot
- Avoiding leavened products in Passover
- Keeping kosher
- Not eating on Yom Kippur
- Not working on the Shabbat
- Paying workers on time
- Marital rights for one's wife
- The Ten Commandments
- Helping someone who is in danger
- Counting the days of the Omer
- Returning lost objects when feasible
- Wearing the tzitzith-garment
- Affixing a mezuzah to the door
- Learning Torah
- Keeping our rules of ethics
- Marrying and having children
- Educating one's children in Judaism
- Giving tzedakah (charity)
- Honoring one's parents
And many more.
Note that the Torah "as is" isn't exactly what Judaism observes. Rather, It's the Torah together with the details provided in the Talmud, which is the Oral Law that was handed down together with the laws of Moses. Otherwise, the verses of the Torah often lack enough detail to be fulfilled as is.
See also the other Related Links.