Cover image for The way into Torah
The way into Torah
Cohen, Norman J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Woodstock, VT : Jewish Lights Pub., 2000.
Physical Description:
xv, 145 pages ; 24 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM71 .C64 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BM71 .C64 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An accessible introduction to how to read, study, and understand Torah--the Bible and related sacred texts that have grown up around it.

For everyone who wants to understand Torah, this book shows the way into an essential aspect of Judaism, and allows you to interact directly with the sacred texts of the Jewish tradition.

Guided by Dr. Norman J. Cohen, rabbi and professor of midrash at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, The Way Into Torah helps us explore the origins and development of Torah, why it should be studied, and how to do it.

What Torah is. The texts, and beyond: Not simply the Five Books of Moses, Torah refers to much more than written words. The different approaches to studying Torah. The many ways Jews have interacted with Torah through the ages and how, by learning to read Torah ourselves,we can connect it to our lives today. The levels of understanding Torah. How Torah can come alive in different ways, at different times; and how new meanings of Torah are discovered by its readers. Why Torah study is a part of the Jewish experience. How it allows us to experience God's presence--and why the Rabbis called Torah study more important even than belief in God.

This guide offers an entrance into the world of Torah, and to its meaning for our lives. The Way Into Torah shows us why reading Torah is not the same as reading anything else--and enables us to become a part of a chain of Jewish tradition that began millennia ago, and remains unbroken today.

Author Notes

Dr. Norman J. Cohen is Provost of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he is also Professor of Midrash.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This first in a projected 14-part series offering paths into various facets of Jewish life reveals the way into the study of Torah, the sacred texts of Judaism. Technically, Torah refers to the first five books of the Bible, but in a larger sense, the term encompasses all the commentaries, interpretations, and legends that have been ascribed to it. Cohen gets readers off to a good start by explaining what Torah is, its history, and why it's important to the Jewish people as a vehicle of divine revelation. He goes on to explain how Torah study can be transformational and who should study Torah (with a very interesting interpretation of the role of women). In general terms, he also covers how to study (find a community of learners and a study partner). Cohen's practical advice is useful, to be sure, but it is his philosophical ruminations--on how ever-expanding interpretations of terse biblical texts can bring one closer to God--that make wonderfully clear why Torah study has endured for millennia. --Ilene Cooper

Library Journal Review

Cohen, provost and professor of Midrash at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has written a clearly delineated and persuasive guide to studying the Torah (including the Pentateuch, the Bible, and the corpus of classic Jewish texts). He discusses the importance of Torah study, who should study Torah, defining Torah, discovering the meaning of Torah, and the importance of being a part of a community of individuals seeking meaning through Judaism. In the process of explicating selected Torah texts, he demonstrates the power behind the words and encourages readers to study Torah more profoundly and meaningfully. This is the first in the publisher's promising new "The Way Into" series, which will continue to explore other aspects of Jewish faith, people, history, and beliefs. Highly recommended for Judaic collections.DMarcia Welsh, formerly of the Guilford Free Lib., CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Cohen (Hebrew Union College) is a sure-handed helmsman for those ready to venture onto the fathomless sea of Torah. In this primer of Torah study, he articulates the motivations for, as well as the means and benefits of, deep engagement with the sacred texts of Judaism. Beginning with the command to study Torah as the preeminent religious obligation of traditional Judaism, Cohen describes such study as a lifelong journey toward self-understanding and the experience of divine presence. The terseness of the Bible stimulates unending interpretation by which it and related religious texts speak afresh to each generation and to each stage of devout seekers' lives. Cohen's account of Torah study is liberally salted with illustrative passages from rabbinical texts. Unfortunately, it is also larded with so many Hebrew terms for texts, concepts, methods, etc., that the novice may feel swamped. However, this is a minor issue in a book that provides an admirably clear exposition of a comple x subject. Though designed primarily for Jewish adult education programs, Cohen's work will also give undergraduates access to a central feature of the Jewish tradition. S. Gowler Berea College

Table of Contents

About The Way Into...p. i
Timelinep. vi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
1. The Importance of Torah Studyp. 7
2. Who Should Study Torah?p. 31
3. Defining Torahp. 51
4. Discovering the Meaning of Torahp. 71
5. A Community of Learnersp. 95
Conclusionp. 111
Notesp. 119
Glossaryp. 131
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 139
Indexp. 141
About Jewish Lights Publishingp. 145