by Rabbi Eved Banah (Host of Brutal Planet and the Rabbi of Beit Geulah)
The word תוֹרָה (Torah) is often not properly defined in Hebrew Roots circles and I am gonna attempt here to give you guys a fuller answer than you maybe accustomed to. So let's start:
Torah (תוֹרָה) can indeed mean "law" but it signifies a collection of "law" and we see this in the phrases Torah She Biktav (תורה שבכתב) (meaning the Torah which is written) and Torah She Be'al Peh (תורה שבעל פה) (meaning: the Torah which is spoken aka the Oral Torah). Now the Bible does make note of both of these in the words of Genesis 26:5 where the word תוֹרֹתָי (torotai) or תוּרֹת (torot) are used, these words are also used in several other passages but this one is the most famous. These words signify both the Torah She BikTav v'Torah She Be'al Peh (written Torah and Oral Torah) as a cohesive unit. The fact they are considered a cohesive unite is the reason why when you speak to us Jews, when we say Torah, we are referring to both as a cohesive unit. As a Lapid Jew however we see the Living Torah as well as the third part to complete the cycle based on John 1:1-14.
So in terms of "commandments" or "law" we tend to use several words based upon what kind of "law" in the specific sense is being referred to such as מִצְוָה or מִצְווֹת (mitzvah or mitzvot) which are usually translated better to "law" or "commandment" better than the word תוֹרָה. Another classification is the word מִּשְׁפָּטִים (Mishaptim) which deals with "civil law". Then there is חוֹקם (chukim) which deal with "law in the form decree". All three of these make up the law of the written Torah and the written Torah and these words are found all through your Hebrew Bible. Now let's go back to the word.
Since the word תוֹרָה can mean a collective set of laws, and considering it also has other meanings let's look at those other meanings, the best English definition of the word תוֹרָה can mean instruction. That is why it is closely related to the words תַלמִיד (Talmid: meaning student or disciple) and the word תַּלְמוּד (Talmud: meaning study).
We must understand the relation of these words that stem from the root being ירה (Yarah) which is a word used in archery and hunting meaning "to hit the mark". This is the root for the word תוֹרָה. Which the opposition to this word is the word חָטָא (Chata) meaning "to miss the mark" and it is also the word for "sin" as well in contextual definition. Thus, this defines Chata as missing the mark and the root of Torah being Yarah, meaning to hit the mark. Thus, this defines for us "sin" which is turning away from the "instruction" given to us by the Living Torah, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah. I pray this was helpful.
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah from the Brutal Planet Radio Program