Chaplain (Capt.) Sarah Schechter, at a Torah dedication ceremony. (U.S. Air Force/Elizabeth Rissmiller)

What is the Torah?

The Five Books of Moses in the Bible.

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.

Discover More

What Is the Torah Portion?

How the Five Books of Moses are divided up into weekly portions.

The Torah Service

The Torah is taken out during prayer services on Shabbat, Mondays and Thursdays.

The Making of a Torah Scroll

Written by hand, a sefer Torah is produced according to strict specifications.