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The World Union of Jewish Students WUJS,9 Alkalai St POB 4498. Jerusalem 91045 Israel,Tel 972 2 561 0133 Fax 972 2 561 0741. E mail office wujs org il,Web site www wujs org il. Originally produced by AJ6 UK 1998,This edition 2001 WUJS All Rights Reserved. The Guide To Texts,Published and produced by WUJS the World Union of.
Jewish Students,From the Chairperson,Dear Reader, Welcome to the Guide to Texts This introductory guide to Jewish texts is written for students. who want to know the difference between the Midrash and Mishna Shulchan Aruch and Kitzur. Shulchan Aruch By taking a systematic approach to the obvious questions that students might. ask the Guide to Texts hopes to quickly and clearly give students the information they are after. Unfortunately many Jewish students feel alienated from traditional texts due to unfamiliarity and. a feeling that Jewish sources don t belong to them We feel that Jewish texts ought to be. accessible to all of us We ought to be able to talk about them to grapple with them and to. engage with them Jewish texts are our heritage and we can t afford to give it up. Jewish leaders ought to have certain skills and ethical values but they also need a certain. commitment to obtaining the knowledge necessary to ensure that they aren t just leaders but. Jewish leaders This Guide will ensure that this is the case. Learning and then leading are the keys to Jewish student leadership Lead on. Peleg Reshef,WUJS Chairperson,How to Use The Guide to Jewish Texts. Many Jewish students and even Jewish student leaders don t know the basics of Judaism. and Jewish texts This Guide is a simple and accessible attempt to allow those who want to. learn some of these basics to start finding answers. The Guide to Jewish Texts is divided into nine parts Each part asks the same questions. about one Jewish text or other be it Torah Mishnah or Midrash These questions include. What is it Where does it come from Who wrote it down What do we do with it What. language is it in What does it look like Finally for English language readers How can I. read a copy These questions answered simply and systematically allow readers to quickly. find out the basic facts about the major Jewish texts The Guide to Jewish Texts won t teach. anybody Talmud but it will teach them what the Talmud is. The Guide to Jewish Texts was originally written in England for AJ6 Our hearty thanks go to. them for allowing us to spread this resource worldwide Because The Guide was written. elsewhere sometimes the approach isn t exactly as it would be at WUJS This tends to be. minimal and we sincerely hope it won t prevent enjoyment of this top quality resource. The idea of WUJS Activate is to provide resource materials and activities to assist Jewish. students worldwide This edition of Activate is designed to allow students to learn some of. the basics of Jewish literacy that will give them the confidence to become better teachers. and happier Jews At present it has only been made available online. As with all the other WUJS Activates this issue is also available on the WUJS web site. www wujs org il both as a printable file and as separate files. Please contact us with any feedback suggestions and ideas that you may have. Joby Blume,Introduction 7,Ketuvim 17,Mishnah 20,A Page of Talmud 31. Midrash 34,Halachic Codes 37,Mishneh Torah 37,Shulchan Aruch 39. Kabbalah and Zohar 43,www wujs org il 6,Why this Guide.
Jewish texts are the lifeblood of the Jewish people Jewish life cannot be understood without. understanding the texts which are the basis for all that we do as Jews Prayer study debate. all of these are based around our texts Today we live in a time when many of us do not. know the basics of our own cultural heritage We do not know what the books of Jewish life. are what they look like or how to read them Hillel and Shammai are strangers to us we. have not met them When we sit in synagogue we may feel embarrassed or alienated We do. not know where to turn to ask the questions that people all seem to know the answers to. We feel intimidated and afraid by our own lack of knowledge. Many of us have been involved in Jewish education for years Yet we manage to avoid asking. the fundamental questions We become expert on Jewish history on Israel on Jewish. politics Yet still we do not know what the Talmud is what Rabbi Akiva is life and most. importantly where to go to start becoming knowledgable about texts We are upset when. we meet children who can read what we can t read who know what we don t know. As Jews we have not yet learnt to read and write,www wujs org il 7. SHOULD YOU WISH TO KNOW THE SOURCE CHAIM NACHMAN BIALIK. Should you wish to know the Source,From which your brothers drew. Their strength of soul,Their comfort courage patience trust. And iron might to bear their hardships,And suffer without end or measure. And should you wish to see the Fort,Wherein your fathers refuge sought.
And all their sacred teasures hid,The refuge that has still preserved. Your nation s soul intact and pure,And when despised and scorned and scoffed. Their faith they did not shame,And should you wish to see and know. Their Mother faithful loving kind,Who sheltered them and shielded them. And lulled them on her lap to sleep,If you my brother know not.
Then enter now the House of God,The House of study old and gray. Throughout the scorching summer days,Thoughout the gloomy winter nights. At morning midday or at eve,And there you may still behold. A group of Jews from the exile who bore the yoke of its burden. who forget their toil,through a worn out page of the Talmud. And then your heart shall guess the truth,That you have touched the sacred ground.
Of a great people s house of life,And that your eys do gaze upon. The treasure of a nation s soul,MIDRASH RABBAH VEYIKRA 19 2. What does the unwise person say Who can learn the Torah The section Nezikin. Damages by itself is thirty chapters long The section Kelim Vessels by itself is thirty. chapters long What does the wise person say I will study two laws today and another two. tomorrow until I have learned the entire Torah,www wujs org il 8. The Tanach is what many would call the Bible or Christians would call the Old Testament. Don t confuse the Tanach with the Torah which is a constituent part of the Tanach. The word Tanach is an acronym based on its three constituent parts Torah Nevi im. Prophets and Ketuvim Writings The Torah Nevi im Prophets and Ketuvim Writings. are separate compilations of works 24 in number that are often published together i e as. the Tanach,The Torah Nevi im and Ketuvim are detailed below. What is it, Torah literally means Teaching The Torah is the central teaching of Judaism The Torah.
consists of the Five Books of Moses,Bereshit Genesis. Shemot Exodus,Vayikra Leviticus,Bamidbar Numbers,Devarim Deuteronomy. The Torah is printed as the first part of the Tanach The Torah is often called the Chumash. This comes from the Hebrew word for five chamesh because there are five books of Torah. Similarly the English term for the Chumash Pentateuch is derived from the Greek penta. meaning five and teuch meaning book A Torah scroll in synagogue the Sefer Torah. contains the text of the Torah or Five Books of Moses. All Jews acknowledge the Torah as the most important writing that we have The word Torah. is in fact often used to refer to the whole body of Jewish religious texts and teachings from. the earliest writings to a book written today This dual usage can be confusing but it is. usually easy enough to tell if somebody is referring to the book scroll or to the whole of. Jewish teachings,www wujs org il 9,What is it about. As a narrative it starts with the story of Creation and ends with the death of Moses just. before the entry to the Land of Israel However it is important straight away to say two. 1 that the Torah doesn t just contain narrative Whole sections especially in the. book Vayikra deal with laws and commandments, 2 that every single letter is considered important and has meaning beyond the. Bereshit Genesis starts with two accounts of Creation Adam and Eve and Noah It then. continues in chronological order through Abraham Isaac and Jacob the Patriarchs It then. goes on to tell the story of Jacob s sons and especially of Joseph his life in Egypt and then. concludes with Joseph s death in Egypt, Shemot Exodus describes the slavery of the Jews in Egypt and of their redemption under.
Moses It describes the leaving of Egypt and the Revelation at Mount Sinai The Ten. Commandments and many other laws and the details of the building of the Sanctuary in the. Wilderness are to be found in Shemot, Vayikra Leviticus contains laws and only a small amount of narrative In Vayikra God tells. Moses to explain the laws on Priesthood sacrifices purity and certain civil and criminal laws. Bamidbar Numbers describes how the Jews continued their journey through the Wilderness. It tells of the twelve spies and the subsequent wanderings of the Jews Bamidbar ends with. the Jews at the borders of the Promised Land forty years after leaving Egypt. Devarim Deuteronomy contains a review of the Torah and Moses parting words to the. Children of Israel prior to his death It also contains further laws The final chapter describes. Moses death,Where does it come from Who wrote it down. There is obviously controversy amongst different streams of Judaism and Jewish thought. about the origin of the Torah The traditional view is that the Torah is the word of God. communicated to and written down by Moses This view holds that all of the Torah up until. Revelation at Mount Sinai i e until the middle of Shemot was written down by Moses There. is then debate about when Moses wrote the rest of the Torah The issue is that if Moses. wrote it all down whilst on Mount Sinai he would have known what would happen next Some. www wujs org il 10, think that Moses wrote the rest of the Torah as it happened in stages some believe that. Moses did write it all on Mount Sinai All agree that it had all been written by just after the. death of Moses Joshua is thought by some to have written the last few verses of the Torah. dealing with Moses death,What does it look like, The Torah text as written meticulously by a scribe is different from the Chumash or. Tanach text, The Torah scroll does not contain chapter divisions e g Numbers 13 2 These were added.
later by Christian scholars but are used in the Chumash printed editions as a universal. reference tool They don t refer to anything fundamental in the text from a Jewish point of. view Unlike the Chumash The Torah scroll doesn t contain vowels or cantillation singing. marks The cantillation marks are used to allow leining singing from the Torah in a. prescribed manner,In what language is it written, The Torah is written in Hebrew This Biblical Hebrew is a very old Hebrew and is different. from more recent dialects eg Mishnaic or modern Hebrew This difference is similar in kind. and degree to Shakespearean and modern English Hence Israelis can read and understand. the Torah like English people can read and understand or not Shakespeare. www wujs org il 11,What do we do with it,In synagogue. For it was taught And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water Exodus. 25 22 Upon which those who expound verses metaphorically said Water means nothing. but Torah as it says Ho everyone that thirsts should come for water Isaiah 55 1 It thus. means that as they went three days without Torah they immediately became exhausted. Babylonian Talmud Tractate Baba Kama 82a, The Torah is read in public on three different days of each week It is read on Shabbat. morning and afternoon at the Shacharit and Minchah services Monday morning at the. Shacharit service and on Thursday morning again at Shacharit Thus there is never a gap. of more than three days between public readings of the Torah. The sages divided the Torah into 54 portions to allow for a completion in an annual public. reading These portions are called sidrot Each week a different sidra is read in synagogue. Because there are 54 sidrot some weeks two sidrot are read On festivals two special. selections from the Torah relevant to that day are read. The word parasha is often used to mean sedra but this is a misnomer Technically a parasha. is a paragraph marked by an indent on a midline blank space in the Torah scroll Parashot. can be as short as a sentence and as long as an entire sidra. Each sidra is divided into seven aliyot points at which someone from the congregation makes. a blessing on the Torah commonly known as call ups These aliyot are decided by. convention based on natural spaces in the text These can be seen in the Torah itself. although they are also made with reference to the content of the passages On Saturday. afternoon Monday and Thursday the first aliyah call up or division of the sidra for the. following Shabbat is read but three people are given the honour of reading it The first. aliyah is therefore subdivided into smaller units for use on three days of the week these. smaller units are still called aliyot though Four people are called to the Torah on Rosh. Chodesh the New Month five for major festivals Pesach Shavout Succot Rosh. Hashanah and six are called to the Torah on Yom Kippur. On Shabbat at least seven people are called to the Torah It is possible to divide the Torah. reading into more parts to let more people share in the honour of being called to read it but. whatever happens the entire Parasha must be read on Shabbat morning. www wujs org il 12,Everyday use, The Torah is studied extensively and is the basis for all Jewish learning That is why the. Torah is read in public to make sure that Jews are learning it Torah is taught in Jewish. schools and synagogues, There is a custom of reading one division of the sidra each day of the week so that each.
week the entire sidra is learnt There are a number of different ways to learn the Parashot. HaShavua which literally means the weekly sidra by classes or reading Study of Torah at. home on the way to work during leisure time etc is part of the lifestyle of many Jews The. Torah is one of the most extensively studied Jewish texts. If I want to read it, Purchase or borrow a copy of the Torah or Chumash The best editions will have easy to. read English and a lot of commentaries The commentaries are the comments of scholars. that make interesting points about the Torah text Reading commentaries is easy and adds a. lot of depth to your understanding Just sit down maybe start at Bereshit the first book of. Moses and start to read Or perhaps try to read the weekly sidra each week perhaps an. aliya each dayThe editions of the Chumash that one usually finds in synagogue Hertz or. Soncino have some commentaries on the text included The Art Scroll edition is also highly. recommended, If you want to understand the themes and appreciate the depths of the Torah perhaps try to. read some other book alongside your Chumash This is the sort of thing one might need to. do when studying Shakespeare or Descartes in an attempt to really appreciate the text One. wouldn t just read Shakespeare but a book about the play as well You can subscribe to. weekly newsletters or e mails on the sidra But remember if you don t read the actual text. first your understanding will be limited just like with Shakespeare. www wujs org il 13,Nevi im Prophets,What is it, Moses was the greatest prophet and there will never be another like him However there. were other prophets who are thought to have communicated with God Nevi im is a collection. of books about the lives and sayings of some of these prophets Nevi im consists of. Yehoshua Joshua,Shoftim Judges,Shmuel Samuel,Melakhim Kings. Yeshayahu Isaiah,Yirmeyahu Jeremiah,Yechezqel Ezekiel.
Trei Asar Twelve Minor Prophets Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum. Habbakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi,Nevi im is the second section of the Tanach. What is it about, Nevi im contains several third person biographical accounts of the lives of the prophets and. accounts of prophesy That is the word of God spoken through the mouth of the prophet in. the prophet s own style Nevi im contains many powerful prayers hymns parables. indictments sermons letters and pronouncements Historically Nevi im narrates the history. of the Jewish nation s entry into Israel under Joshua to the pre Temple era of the Judges. Samuel Saul David and the building of the First Temple Nevi im then continues to describe. the era of the First Temple and the warnings and exaltations of many prophets of Israel. Nevi im ends with accounts of prophecies made at the time of the destruction of the First. The first books of Nevi im are more historical in content The later books are more poetic in. style and often contain stark ethical and spiritual warnings to the Jewish People. Where does it come from Who wrote it down, Different parts of Nevi im were written down by different people Some prophets wrote their. own book down e g Joshua wrote Joshua others didn t The full list is as follows. www wujs org il 14,Yehoshua Joshua was written down by Joshua. Shoftim Judges was written down by Samuel, Shemuel Samuel was written down by Samuel Gad and Natan.
Melakhim Kings was written down by Jeremiah, Yeshayahu Isaiah was written down by the men of Chizkiah a King of Judah. Yirmeyahu Jeremiah was written down by Jeremiah, Yechezqel Ezekiel and Trei Asar Twelve Minor Prophets were written down by the men of. the Great Assembly in around 330 200 BCE, The traditional view of the relation of Nevi im to God is that each book is divinely inspired. The words of the Prophets are the words of God but the Prophets could see God as we. can see through clouded glass So the content of Nevi im was either written by people who. communicated with God or records what these people did or both Nevi im does not have. the same status as Torah This is because Moses is believed to have had a clear view of. God and so could literally write God s words,What does it look like. Mostly one will come across Nevi im as part of the Tanach It can also be obtained in. separate books In both it is written in standard Hebrew characters with full vowels and. punctuation A very old copy of Yeshayahu Isaiah is displayed with the Dead Sea Scrolls. This is written in the fashion of the time and so it looks similar to a Torah scroll without. vowels or punctuation The styles changed to suit the readers. What do we do with it, Selections from Nevi im are read publicly each Shabbat after the sidra Each selection is.
known as a HafTorah Each HafTorah reflects the themes contained in the sidra of that. Shabbat The custom of reading a HafTorah developed during the time of the Romans when. it was forbidden to study or teach Torah The sages instead read selections from Nevi im in. public to remind people of the Torah portion that would have been read and so studied that. week This practice has been retained as a reminder of a time when we couldn t study Torah. What language is it in, Like the Torah Nevi im is in Biblical Hebrew The language can be poetic in parts rendering it.


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