In January of 2016, I started a bible study of the book of Ezekiel that was published under the name of the ArtScroll. This book encompassed the book of Ezekiel written in Hebrew, it included the direct English translation, a number of rabbinic commentaries, as well as overviews of critical points of the book. As soon as I realized exactly what the study entailed, I wanted to have the entire Old Testament related that way and at my finger tips. I started with Genesis – a 2 volume set – and dove into that study as well as Ezekiel. I continued to buy the other books of the Old Testament every time there was a sale at Menorah Publishing. I was determined that I would study the entire Old Testament in the years to come.
I could not read fast enough. But I soon felt that in order to retain all this information, I needed to start over and journal all that I was learning. The hunger to learn from these precious books is still with me today. It takes about a year to complete one journal. I have now completed my second – two years later – and continue to be in the study of Genesis. Yes, I did say Genesis – in fact, truth be told, I am only on Chapter 25. It has taken me two years to study through those 25 chapters. I now smile when I remember back to thinking I was going to study the entire Old Testament before I die!! I am now certain, the Second Coming will be here long before I get through the Torah. I will need to finish my work in my eternal life, one way or the other.
What is the most rewarding of all this work? I can honestly say I have never felt closer to God, my Father, than I have these past two years. Genesis has opened the door to the opportunity of getting to know Him – really know Him. His love for us never ceases to amaze me and humble me at the same time. I am determined every day to open up this book and become just a little more intimate with my Father, Blessed Be He.
My intention of this blog is to share what I am learning about God in hopes that the joy I feel each day will be felt by you as well. Walk with me on this journey of peace, love, faith, and sheer joy of knowing you are a child of the Most High God and each day is a gift, an opportunity to please Him and make Him happy.
Before we can begin, I want to have some information available to you so that you will be able to understand the meaning behind a few things that we are about to read. I will use this section merely as a reference to explain words, concepts, and give you some background on some of the great Sages/Rabbis who are quoted in this journal.
The word Torah has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books of the Tanach (the Old Testament) and it usually includes the rabbinic commentaries. The term Torah means “instruction” and offers a way of life to those who follow it. It can mean the continued narrative from Genesis to the end of the Tanach and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture, and practice. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the foundational narrative of the Jews; their call into being by God; their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God which involves a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws (halakha).
In rabbinic literature the word Torah denotes both the first five books – Torah Shebichlav “Torah that is written” – and the Oral Torah – Torah Shebe’al Peh “Torah that is spoken”. The Oral Torah consists of interpretations and amplifications which according to rabbinic tradition have been handed down from generation to generation and are now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash.
Talmud means “instruction, learning”. The Talmud has two components – the Mishnah which is a written compilation of knowledge of the Oral Torah; and the Gemara which is the analysis of and commentary of the Mishnah. The Mishnah was published in 200ce (Christian Era). The work was studied exhaustively by generation after generation of rabbis in Babylonia and Israel. Their ‘discussions’ were written down in a series of books that became the Genera, which when combined with the Mishnah – creates the Talmud.
In standard print, the Talmud is 6,200 pages long and is written in Hebrew and Aramaic. It contains the teachings and opinions of thousands of Rabbis dating from before the Christian Era through fifth century on a variety of topics including Halakha (the laws), Jewish ethics, philosophy, customs, history, lore and many other topics. The Talmud is the basis of all codes of Jewish Law.
The Midrash is a critical explanation or interpretation of the Talmud using a wide range of disciplines. It investigates into the history and origins of the text – examines the structure of sentences in a given language, specifically word order… texts along with teaching stories as taught by Rabbinical Sages of the post Temple era that provide an extensive analysis to passages in the Tanuch.