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Jewish Spirituality Resource Guide: Torah Study

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Jewish spirituality can sometimes be quiet, but more often it's wordy--blessings and prayers are usually recited out loud, if in a murmur, or sung. More than merely wordy, Jewish spirituality is narrative. We can connect our everyday lives to God through blessings and set prayers; we connect them to Jewish history through the study of Torah. This happens in more than one way.

We compare our lives with the stories of the great and holy, the patriarchs and matriarchs, prophets and leaders of the Hebrew scriptures. In synagogue, when we read the Torah portion of the week, we wonder what we would have done in their places. Comparing our lives to theirs, we join with those who came between them and us who did the same.

The practice of Torah study extends past the narrative of the ancestors to learning the ethical principles of Jewish law, principles by which we guide our lives today. When ethical questions arise in current events or in our communities, even the most mundane issue can be held up to these principles. We can ask ourselves, does this action promote peace in my home? Is this thing that I'm about to say, gossip or unethical speech? Is this thing that I'm about to do an act of hesed, of lovingkindness?

We can deepen the natural human desire to do right into a spiritual connection. This is the big advantage to Judaism for spiritual growth--all these every day things we do in relation to other people can have spiritual meaning. There are no great tests of faith--the test is what you do.

One of 54 sections of the Torah read, during Shabbat services, in order on a weekly basis throughout the year. Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." A language of West Semitic origins, culturally considered to be the language of the Jewish people. Ancient or Classical Hebrew is the language of Jewish prayer or study. Modern Hebrew was developed in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as a revival language; today it is spoken by most Israelis.
The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.

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