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Subject: Parchment


From: Jonathan M. Leader <leaderj>
Date: Tuesday, October 13, 1998
I seem to have missed this thread at its inception, but I do have a
couple of late comments. Torah scrolls are the penultimate sacred
object to a Jew. If anything, the traditional rules are more
stringent than most present AIC/IIC conservation practice. (i.e.,
pick up a copy of Mishna Soferim translated into English for a
non-comprehensive look at the details of lettering) The question of
the eight years of study is a shibboleth, as to a traditional Sofer
STaM there is no end to the learning. Each letter made or repaired,
each material used, must be at an exacting level of kashrut.
Anything less, any deviation or lack of concentration could result
in making the scroll posul (unfit for use). The amount of waffle
room on this is very small, at least traditionally.

I seem to have missed a salient point in Jack's posting. Was the
damage confined to the unmarked margins of the Sefer Torah, or did
it extend through or between the lettering? A strictly temporary fix
of the margin of the klaf using cellophane tape may be permitted,
depending on community. The permanent repair would involve stitching
with sinew from a kosher animal or backing with kosher parchment.
The adhesive used would, of course, be kosher as well. Damage
through a letter would make the Scroll unfit for use. In this
circumstance, cellophane tape does not address the base issue and is
a useless temporary repair. Rips between lines or letters can be
quite complicated and requires a specialist decision. Nonetheless,
if deemed to be still kosher the Scroll would most likely be
repaired by patching with kosher parchment and glue from the back,
not by using cellophane tape.

Is this the basis of your paper, Jack?

A secondary issue, not addressed, is that Torah scrolls "die". That
is to say, that when a scroll is no longer properly repairable it is
considered to have "died". The posul scroll is then placed in a
genizah or buried, depending on the minhag (tradition) of the
community. The general retention of posul scrolls as part of a
collection is a fairly modern invention. Conservation of a "dead"
scroll would be a non-sequitur for many traditional Jews.

Traditionally, retired men are often encouraged to become Sofer
STaM. The minhag is that each male Jew should write a Torah scroll
at least once in their life. I think that it is nice that Mr.
Solomon is attempting to follow this precept.

The lack of information concerning Mr. Solomon's specific training
or his teaching syllabus makes this part of the post impossible to
comment on.

The final entangled thread discussing the handling or repairing of
the Sefer Torah by non-Jews (not even to open the box on traditional
gender issues) would make this post impossibly long.

Jonathan M. Leader, Ph.D.
1321 Pendleton Street
Columbia, SC  29208

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:36
                 Distributed: Tuesday, October 13, 1998
                       Message Id: cdl-12-36-006
Received on Tuesday, 13 October, 1998

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