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Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Torah?
- What is a Torah Portion?
- What is Torah Club?
- When Do I Study the Portion?
- What about Jesus?
- What is First Fruits of Zion?
- Why Do You Focus on the Torah?
What is the Torah?
The "Law" is a biblical term for the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. They are also called the "Books of Moses" because Moses wrote them. In the Hebrew language (the language in which the Old Testament was written) the first five books are collectively called the Torah. Torah is a word that means "instruction." God's intention for giving the Torah is to instruct his people in holiness:
The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction." (Exodus 24:12, emphasis added)
The Torah contains the record of creation, the story of the fall of man, the plight of humanity, the call of Abraham, the exodus from Egypt, the stories of the wilderness wanderings, the covenants with Israel, and a lot of rules and instructions from God. These rules and instructions include well-known passages like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). They also include ritual laws about sacrifices, holy days, dietary restrictions, and various ceremonies. For all of the 1,400 years from the days of Moses to the days of Jesus, the Torah was the rule of life and standard of godliness for God's chosen people Israel.
When we see reference to the "Scriptures" in the New Testament the author is referring to what we call today the Old Testament. They never understood or considered it the Old Testament; they referred to is as the Torah. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul's states that the Torah "trains in righteousness" and then summarizes it in the following manner.
- The Torah is good for—Teaching (showing the believer about God and His ways)
- The Torah is good for—Rebuking (showing how we have walked off the path)
- The Torah is good for—Correcting (showing how to get back on the path)
- The Torah is good for—Instructing in Righteousness (showing us how to be consistent)
Using the ancient Torah reading schedule is a great way to study the entire Word of God.
When God brought restoration and returned the Israelites from captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah and the men of their generation set to work creating a system to encourage Torah study. They wanted to ensure that the people would not slip into idolatry again. They created a system for the synagogue to ensure that the people heard the Torah read every week.
To this day, the Jewish world studies a portion of the Torah every Sabbath. Jews read the Torah aloud in synagogues on Sabbaths, Mondays and Thursdays. Monday and Thursday were the ancient market days when rural people came into town. At this time, they also had the opportunity to hear the Word of God. On Sabbath days, the people assembled according to the commandment.
Since the days of the Apostles, the Torah continues to be read every week in the same manner. An annual lectionary, the Torah reading cycle, allows all Israel to study the same passages of Scripture simultaneously as they work through the Torah from week to week. The lectionary divides the Torah into 2-6 chapter readings for each week. Corresponding readings from the Prophets are tacked onto the weekly Torah readings. The reading cycle begins in the fall, after the Feast of Tabernacles, with Genesis 1:1. Approximately twelve months later, it concludes with the last verses of the book of Deuteronomy.
Reading along with the weekly Torah readings is a great way to study through the Torah every year. When you do, you are studying in synchronization with all Israel. Synagogues, study halls, and Messianic congregations all over the world will be examining the same passages of Scripture along with you.
In each of the weekly readings, the portions (Hebrew: parashot) are named after the first word or distinctive phrase in the passage. In the days of the Apostles, the Bible was not divided into chapters and verses. People indicated different scripture passages by referring to the first Hebrew word or phrase of the passage. If a rabbi said, "In the place where it says, 'After the death of Aaron's two sons...'" he would be referring to parashat Acharei Mot, Leviticus 16:1-18:30. Acharei Mot means "after the death of." In the same way, each portion (parasha) of Torah is named after its opening words, and each book of the Torah is named after its opening parasha.
Torah Club is your key to studying the weekly Torah portions.
The Torah Club is a subscription-based, messianic Torah Study Program created by the ministry of First Fruits of Zion. Torah Club is presented in five, separate, year-long volumes, keyed to the weekly Bible portions read in synagogues all over the world each Sabbath. The Torah Club is an in-depth study of the whole Bible.
As a Torah Club subscriber, you will receive a packet of study materials every month containing written commentaries on the weekly Bible readings and audio CDs containing additional teachings, Torah discussions, children's stories and more. Torah Club comes with quality binders for written and audio materials and a weekly Bible reading schedule to keep you in sync.
Torah Club is ideal for individual study or group study. Study it alone, or use it to start a Torah Portions Bible Study Group.
Torah Club Bible reading assignments are accompanied by copious written commentaries, condensing vast libraries of learning into easily digestible, weekly studies. Notes and citations invite students to delve deeper into the original sources. Discover insights from ancient Jewish sages, Messianic and non-Messianic rabbis and Evangelical scholars. For more information: www.torahclub.org
The weekly public reading of the Torah portion on the Sabbath represents the culmination of a week of study, discussion, and consideration. The reading and the study of the Torah portion precede the reading date. For example, if the Torah reading is Noach ("Noah") with the associated date of October 24, then the reading and study of that portion would have started the Sunday prior, and continued during the week and ending on the Sabbath of October 24. The weekly portion is publicly read in the synagogue prior to noon on Sabbath mornings. On a technical side, the reading of the next week's portion begins at noon on that same Sabbath--with the first reading at the time of afternoon prayers.
Jesus is central! Jesus was a Torah observant Jew. In fact, he was completely righteous, obeying all of the Torah as it applied to him. That's what it means when we say that he is sinless. As Christians we are called to be "Christ-like." Jesus said, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). He taught us that he had not come to cancel the Torah but to fulfill it (see Matthew 5:17). When we study the Torah, in many ways we are studying Jesus--he was and is the Word made flesh.
We study the Torah because it begins and ends with Jesus. We desire to teach Torah because he was a Torah teacher. We desire to understand the commandments because he lived them out; thus they reveal his character and inform us of what it means to be a faithful disciple.
First Fruits of Zion is a messianic Jewish ministry composed of Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus working together for the mission of, "Proclaiming the Torah and its way of life, fully centered on Messiah, to today's People of God." What exactly does that mean?
The ministry of First Fruits of Zion teaches Torah. We are an educational ministry. We believe that the Torah of Moses is God's initial revelation and self-disclosure to Israel and all of humanity. It is the foundation for the whole of Scripture, the basis of covenant relationship with God and the revelation of Messiah. We are dedicated to educating followers of Jesus--both Jewish and Gentile--in the Torah and the whole of Scripture.
All of our teachers and staff, Jewish and Gentile alike, endeavor to live according to the counsel of God's Law. Whether it is a simple, biblical approach, a traditional Orthodox Jewish practice, or anything in between, we are all committed to upholding the Messiah and to growing in obedience to the commandments of God in our personal lives, our homes, and communities.
For more information on the ministry of First Fruits of Zion you can review our teachings, information about leadership, and see our resources at our website. Visit www.ffoz.org.
The people of God are the people of Israel--the Jewish people. The Torah was given to the nation of Israel (see Romans 3:2). Before the Gospel, Gentiles were "alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). Through faith in Messiah, Gentile believers are grafted into the people of Israel and given citizenship within the greater commonwealth of Israel (see Romans 11:17, Ephesians 2:13). Gentile believers are henceforth called "Sons of Abraham" (see Romans 4:12-18, Galatians 3:29) and "fellow-heirs" (See Ephesians 3:6) with the Jewish people.
Since Gentile believers have a spiritual inheritance in the nation of Israel they are no longer strangers to the covenants of promise, and therefore no longer strangers to Torah (see Ephesians 2:19). We are passionate about teaching Torah to all of God's people, making "disciples of all nations" (see Matthew 28:19) --to the Jew first, but also to the Gentile (see Romans 1:16).
Returning Christianity to a proper understanding of the Torah is a critical step in the process of redemption and the salvation of greater Israel. Teaching Torah to all people is part of the prophetic plan of God (see Isaiah 2:3).