The Torah (Hebrew for “the teachings”) is the name given to the five books of Moses which come at the very beginning of the Bible. These books form the basis of all Jewish law and practice. A Torah scroll is a parchment scroll on which all five books have been inscribed by a specially trained calligrapher. Torah scrolls are typically kept in synagogues, in a special cabinet called an ark.
On Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays the Torah scroll is removed from the ark, paraded around the room, and then a portion of the Torah is chanted aloud for the whole community. In Judaism, Torah scrolls are considered the holiest objects and are handled with extreme affection and care. In particular, we are careful not to touch the parchment or text with our hands.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.