The Jerusalem Scribe - Torah

Torah Scrolls (Sifrei Torah)

(singular, Sefer Torah)

are the objects most holy to the Jews. They contain the Five Books of Moses (the Pentateuch), written in black ink on scored parchment by religious scribes. Hundreds of laws govern the most minute details of the materials and the writing. Today most Torah scrolls are written in 245 columns of 42 lines each. It takes an expert scribe about a year on average to complete a single Torah scroll, although some scribes write significantly faster and others much more slowly. Three basic Hebrew Scripts are used today:
The Beit Yoseph and Ari scripts are similar, differing only in the form of 5 or 6 letters. Vellish is generally a more rounded hand than the Ashkenazi scripts, and it can be written more quickly. Actually there is some variation also within these three scripts, such that various Sephardi communities write Vellish script differently in characteristic ways and the Lubovitch Chassidim have their own variant of the Ari script. Some Sephardi scribes write with a reed pen; others, and all Ashkenazi scribes, use a feather quill.

After they are written, the sheets of the Torah are sewn together with gut from a kosher animal, but not before they are checked three times for mistakes, and repaired if necessary. Despite the best efforts of the expert scribe, checkers usually find a number of mistakes and problems requiring improvement or correction. In our time it has become common to substitute a check by computer for one of the human checks. The computer is better than human checkers at locating mistakes in the consonantal text--missing, garbled, or extra words--but it cannot substitute entirely for expert human inspectors (Magi'him), who also locate fine breaks and joins between letters and various other problems which the computer doesn't catch. The Jerusalem Scribe always includes a computer check automatically as one check of any new Sefer Torah we sell.

If you would like to order a new Torah, ready-made or written to your specifications, The Jerusalem Scribe can offer beautiful scrolls written by fine scribes. We can provide kosher Torah scrolls from about 6" in height (12 cm!) up to about 22" (56 cm). Click here for purchase information.

Old Torahs can also profit by being checked by computer. Experience indicates that there are unnoticed mistakes even in many Torah scrolls which have been read for long periods of time. While the halakha (Jewish law) does not require rechecking an old Torah which has presumably already been checked properly, a computer check is nonetheless recommended if the owners of the Torah can afford the expense.

Often Torah scrolls deteriorate and need to be repaired. Even a single broken or wrong letter in a Torah scroll renders it unfit for public reading. It is especially common for the fine lines of the script to crack, for entire letters or parts of letters to break off the parchment, or for the writing to fade until it no longer has any body. All of these problems can be dealt with if they are not too severe. The Jerusalem Scribe specializes in the repair and preservation of old scrolls, and we have developed unusual expertise in this area.

The Jerusalem Scribe also buys and sells old Torah scrolls. Coupled with our expertise in the repair of damaged and deteriorated scrolls, this means that we can offer you quality used Torah scrolls with a guarantee. Click here for purchase information.

Almost all Torah scrolls written today are produced in Israel. Scribes in the Diaspora work mostly at checking and repairs.

Jewish law does not require checking an old Torah scroll unless several mistakes or problems are found in it. If you have a Torah with problems, you can write to consult us.

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For information about Megillot, Mezuzah, or Tefillin, click the underlined highlighted words.

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