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Tradition Text

Reading the Text

The Torah portion is read directly from the Torah (or temple) scrolls. Its script contains no vowels or notes for singing and as a result, the Torah scroll can easily be misread. Passages are therefore studied beforehand from printed books where vowels are shown. Ideally the student studies both styles of the text so that he/she becomes familiar with the words and can read them more confidently when the Bar/Bat Mitzvah day comes. A book known as a Tikun displays both versions and is used for study purposes. The Torah Portion pages in Navigating the Bible also show both versions and feature audio files that demonstrate how the words are pronounced and sung.

This is a sample of the printed Hebrew text:

This is a sample of the Hebrew text from the Torah:

The Torah scroll is holy and must be treated with great respect. We avoid touching the Torah parchment with our hands and instead a pointer called a yad (hand) is used to keep the reader's place in the text.

Reading & Pronouncing God's Name

The four letter name of God () is never pronounced even during prayer, instead the word is pronounced Adonai. The English in 'Navigating the Bible' usually translates as 'Lord', which refers to God as 'the Master of All'.

In some places you will see represented in the translation as 'YHVH' (standing for Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, the Hebrew letters in God's name). YHVH is written in the translation when somebody is using God's name rather than using it as a 'job description' (e.g. Exodus, chapter 5).

Another name for God that is used in Torah is Elohim (). This is translated as 'God' and refers to God as 'the One who is all-powerful'.

Some communities will not pronounce the words Adonai or Elohim except during prayer, since they are also considered holy names. Instead is read as Hashem (literally 'The Name') and is read as elokim (changing one letter to avoid saying God's name.)

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