General Question

weeveeship's avatar

What religious text do Jews read?

Asked by weeveeship (3962 points ) January 3rd, 2011

I know that the Jews’ main religious text is the Tanakh (Torah+Nevi’im+Ketuvim). I heard that the Tanakh is equivalent to the Christians’ Old Testament. I also heard that the Jews have the Talmud, but this question focuses on the Tanakh.

First of all, do Jews usually read the Tanakh? Or is reading the Tanakh reserved for the priests or for special occasions?

Second of all, do Jews read the Tanakh in the original Hebrew (or some derivative, such as Yiddish) or do they read the book in the vernacular (i.e. local) language, such as in English or Spanish?

If the Jews read the book in the local language, would a Jew ever read the Old Testament of the Christian Bible (and just not read the New Testament) or is there commercially available translations of just the Tanakh?

Many thanks for your help.

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5 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

AFAIK, Jewish law is a mix of sacred text, commentaries on those texts, and Rabinnical legal decisions. This leaves some surprising omissions, such as what the KJV Bible calls the Apocrypha (I believe the reason is that those texts were lost in their Hebrew form, and only survive as translations).

LostInParadise's avatar

What Christians call the Old Testament and Jews simply refer to as the Bible is available to be read by all Jews in their native languages. Within the Torah part are the rules for daily life. The Talmud was written to explain and clarify these rules. The Torah is read in its entirety in Hebrew by rabbis on Sabbath religious services during the course of the year.

Rarebear's avatar

Jews haven’t had priests for 2000 years. It is read in Hebrew, if Hebrew is understood, and whatever language is local. Yiddish is an Eastern European dialect that isn’t religious at all but is a Germanic language. The Old Testament of the Christian Bible is the same thing, more or less, as the Jewish Bible, just a different translation. There are plenty of translations available—here is one on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Pentateuch-Haftorahs-English-Translation-Commentary/dp/0900689218

answerjill's avatar

Traditionally, Jews read a section from the Torah at morning services every Shabbat (sabbath). Here, the Torah means what is sometimes called the 5 Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Along with each weekly section of the Torah (called a parsha), we also read a section from Neviim (Prophets). The two sections are supposed to have some connection in terms of theme. The entire cycle is completed once a year and celebrated on the holiday of Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah) when we then begin the cycle again with Genesis (“In the beginning….”). The Torah is read aloud to the congregation (or chanted) in Hebrew, but there are many versions available that include a translation in the local language. The person who reads to the congregation does not need to be a rabbi.

evil2's avatar

depends on the jew i guess

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