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    The Chumash – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why do we call the Torah the Chumash?

    A. Chamesh is “five”. As the Torah has five books, it is logical to nickname it “The Five”. Some rabbis add an ethical lesson. Just as each book of the Torah is separate and special but all combine to make up one Torah, so all the groups and sections of the Jewish people make up one community.

    The verb ch-m-sh also means “to arm”. The Children of Israel went up from Egypt chamushim, “armed” (Ex. 13:18) (possibly there was an ancient concept of an army having five sections). Spiritually one might suggest that with the Torah a Jew is armed to face life and the world.

    Chief Rabbi Hermann Adler wrote, “With the Law of God folded in his arms and its words engraved upon his heart, (the Jew) has gone up and down the earth proclaiming his belief in the One Supreme Being – a Being whose spirit fills all time and all space, a Being never embodied, but made manifest to man in the glory of His creation and in His all-wise behests, which teach mercy, love, and justice”.

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