This is the time of year that we take to remember the Word of Adonai to all mankind. He gave us his Torah, his teaching, guidance, instruction which is so important in a sin-filled world. He gave it to fallen mankind to give him direction to “Yeshuah” (Salvation) a reconciliation between fallen man and a Holy and Supreme, Perfect God, through “Teshuvah” a “turning around and change of mind and direction” and turn to follow our One and Only Supreme and Holy God. The word “Torah” comes from “Yarah” which means “to point to” or “to direct towards” like an arrow that is headed towards the bulls-eye of a target. So, we ask, where did it all start? We might say that it all began with Moshe who wrote down all the words of Adonai while in the desert, starting with the Ten Commandments (Which were written by G-d himself) and compiled all together, 613 mitzvoth, which were written down in 5 scrolls. However, the Word of G-d, His Torah was even before that time. It was the time of the Oral Torah. I don’t mean the Talmud, it was way before the Talmud. The Oral Torah was the instruction that Elohim gave to Adam verbally, who passed that instruction down to Kayin and Chevel and later on to Seth, who passed it down to his descendants, and finally reached Noach, and Noach passed down the teaching to his sons, Shem, Ham, and Yafeth, who passed down the teachings to Terah, and from the there to Abraham, and then to his sons, to the sons of Israel, and from there to Moshe, who finally wrote down the instructions by the verbal commandments of Adonai. Adam sacrificed to Adonai, and so did Chevel, (Abel) a burnt offering. How did they learn about that if not through the spoken words of G-d? How did Noach know about the clean and unclean animals to put aboard the ark, unless God told him about those kinds of animals since the clean and unclean commandments of Kashrut didn’t appear until Leviticus 11, which was way after the time of Noach? So now we have the written Torah in our midst, and we ought to be thankful that we have it with us, and in some homes, probably quite a few copies of the Bible, which is the Greek word “Biblios” which means “books” So, what does the Torah consist of? How many books? Manuscripts? Well that depends on what one considers the complete “Torah” In today’s Judaism, we see quite a few denominations, just like in Christianity, we see quite a few denominations. We have Ultra- Orthodox, Orthodox, Chasidim, Reformed, Conservative, and Messianic (those who believe and accept Yeshua as Messiah and Redeemer. As we are all part of the great International Community of Israel, or the Commonwealth of Israel, consisting of those born and raised in Israel as well as those born outside of Israel. Even those who have lost their contact with the faith through pogroms, persecution, accepting other faiths, many have returned to the faith of Abraham and have recognized their Jewish heritage, even if it came from great ancestors. We must be tolerant one with the other, listening to one anther’s views open-mindedly, not in a condemning manner. We can look at the schools of Shammai and Hillel and see their examples. A student once had a question concerning an aspect of the Torah, and went to the school of Shammai and ask the sage the question. “It means this-and-that” and he continued. He later went to the school of Hillel and asked the same question about the Torah. Hillel asked the student; “What did Shammai say?” the student said, “He said, this-and-that”. “Well” stated Hillel, “ I’ll give you our view” and he told the student their view. Afterward, he said, “now consider the view of Shammai and our view and come to your own conclusion, what does the Spirit of God tell you?” So, just like the schools of Shammai and Hillel had their views on the Torah, so must we also listen to those who perhaps have different views, whether the person is conservative, orthodox, Messianic, or another denomination. After all, we are ALL people of the Torah, and if terrorists come and wish to murder us all, they will not come up to ask us what we believe, whether or not we believe that Yeshua is Messiah or whether we keep Kosher or not, all they will look for will be kippahs on our heads and Tzitziot hanging from our undershirts or belts, we will all die together as “Am Y’hudim v’Israelim” Some believe that the Torah consists of only the 5 books of Moshe, Genesis to Deuteronomy. Others accept also the Nevi’im and Ketuvim (the Prophets and the Writings) up to Malachi, while Messianic believers also embrace and accept the gospels of the Brit HaDASHAH, up to Revelation. One thing that is certain, ALL is Torah, The Instruction of a ONE and Holy God (Echad) through his chosen writers, through a period of two thousand years. What does the Torah teach us? It teaches us that G-d is Perfect, Holy (Tamim Kadosh) and that He made man in His holy image, yet man was tempted by HaSatan and thus broke fellowship with his creator. Adonai reached down and sent his prophets his words to bring fallen mankind back into a right relationship with Him again, using His spoken and written word, He directed us to a ‘Yeshuah” (salvation) experience and thus, bringing us back into a right relationship with Him again. The Torah is a continuous book of reading and studying. It is ALL related, just as a circle has no beginning nor end, so the Torah is continuous, and every part is connected to the next part. Here are some examples. The custom of Simchat Torah is to begin reading from Genesis 1:1; “B’reisheet Bara Elohim…” (In the beginning, Elohim….) yet many begin by reading the last verse in Deuteronomy 34:12. And in the same breath continue with Genesis 1:1. How do these verses relate? The last word in Deuteronomy is “Israel” the first word in Genesis is “B’reisheet” (In the beginning) If we take this a step into the Derashic level of understanding, one could say, “even in the beginning, God had Israel in his mind and heart!” If we take it even a step further, the last letter in Deuteronomy is “L” (Lamed) and the first letter in the Torah is “B” (beit) if we put “lamed and beit” together we get the word “Lev” (heart) thus getting the understanding that “In the beginning, Israel was in the heart of Elohim” Let’s take a step further, the last word in Malachi is “Cherem” (curse or destruction) and the first word in Genesis is “B’reisheet” (in the beginning) how do these words relate? In the beginning, Elohim created a perfect world which was “destroyed” by the “curse” bringing sin into the world. The last letter in Malachi is a “Mem” sofit. The letter “Mem” (M) symbolizes “chaos, water, multitudes”, while the letter “Beit” (B) symbolizes “house” or “household”. What is the relation? In the beginning, chaos was introduced into the multitudes (people) through the curse of the original sin, and the world was destroyed by water (The Genesis Flood). Let’s go a step further, for those who are of the Messianic belief. The last book in the Bible is Revelation. The last word in the Book of Revelation is “Amen” and the first word in the Bible is “B’reisheet” “Amen” means “So be it” or “Let it be so”. We can see that “In the beginning, Elohim created the Heavens and the earth, “Let it be so” (amen) The last letter in “amen” is the letter “Nun” (N) which symbolizes “life” and of course, the “Beit” symbolizes “House” so one could say, “In the beginning, God’s household was full of life! Life, happiness, joy, bliss, in Gan Eden, (In the Garden of Eden) up until the time of sin…then…all changed. And we all know the rest. We are all reaping the whirlwind. The Torah gives us the way of righteous living before a Holy God and before mankind. Following and living the mitzvoth of Adonai. They direct us toward the right path to “Yeshuah” (salvation) by faith. In the following weeks, I will present a series of Torah portions with Midrashim so that all who would like to read and follow the weekly Torah cycle, can do so.