THE TORAH OF MESORAH - The Torah of Mesorah 2
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The Jewish View of Tanakh (Scripture)
In many non-Jewish (by implication, non-Noahide) religions, the Tanakh,1 the Torah, Prophets and Writings, are all treated with equal authority. Some even treat the later prophets with greater authority than the Torah itself.
This is not how Torah is viewed by those of Jewish, and by extension, Noahide faith. We view the Torah, Prophets, and Writings as hierarchical – there is an order of greater and lesser authority.
At the pinnacle of this hierarchy are the five books of the written Torah – the Chumash2. They are the final, permanent, crystallization of God’s will for mankind. The Torah will never be replaced or superseded by any other future covenant or revelation.
In the textual realm, the Torah is the primary text for deriving law and practice for both Jews and Noahides.
The Prophets & Writings
If the Torah is the ultimate revelation of God’s will, then what is the need for later prophecy?
The main purpose of prophecy was to correct the people when they strayed from proper conduct or allegiance to the Torah. Therefore, the prophets and writings contain a treasure trove of moral inspiration and contemplation.
As for their practical interpretation, the prophets and writings do not come to, God forbid, alter or emend the Torah; The Torah is eternal and perfect. Rather, the Prophets and Writings play a supporting role. They are often used to clarify the meanings of certain proper nouns that occur in the Torah. They are also used as support, yet not proof, of Rabbinic laws, customs, and interpretations.
The Many Facets of Torah
The Five Books of Moses (the Chumash) is the most succinct possible written expression of Torah. However, the written Torah is only a gateway, an entry point into the larger world of Torah. The Torah is so vast, so all encompassing, that it is impossible to be entirely captured in writing.
1 The complete Hebrew Bible is referred to as the Tanakh. The word is an acronym for Torah (Five Books of Moses), Neviim (Prophets), and Kesuvim (Writings).
2 The word Chumash is the common term for the Five Books of Moses. It is a Hebrew word that means “fifths” – a reference to the five books.