Monday, 6 February 2012

The Torah

Today I would to share about the Torah Scroll.

The Torah Scroll are the scriptures that we use in Shabbat and weekly services. They are written on parchment scrolls, usually made out of cowskin. Always hand-written in beautiful Hebrew calligraphy with "crowns". These crowns are crows-foot-like marks coming up from the upper points on many of the letters.
 This style of writing is known as STA"M. Which is an abbreviation for "Sifrei Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzot," which is where you will see that style of writing.
We do not touch the parchment of the Torah. There are several theories for this; some say it is because the Scroll is so holy. Others say the reason is because the Scroll is made from animal skins, which is a source of defilement. Others (which is what I hold to) say because our fingers has acids that will damage the ink and the skin over time.
Instead, we use a pointer to follow along with the text, which is known as a Yad. "Yad" means "hand" in Hebrew, and the Torah pointer is usually in the shape of a hand, with a pointing finger.
The Scrolls are kept covered with fabric and often embroilered.

It is often ornamented with silver crowns on the handles of the scrolls and a silver breastplate on the front.
The  Torah Scroll are kept in a cabinet in the Synagogue called an Ark, as in the Ark of the Convenant. Not to be confused with "Noah's Ark.   While my hebrew studies taught me that The "Ark" of the Covenant and the ark in synagogue are an acrostic of "aron kodesh" (holy cabinet), others others teach that it is an archaic English word derived from the Latin arca (cabinet).
I personaly don't see a need to split hairs over this issus. 
The Torah scrolls come with no vowels or musical notes, so the learning of hebrew is a must and even then usually requires substantial advance preparation. I have a "baby torah" one that has pointed text along with the Trope Trainer so that I can here the notes and learn the passage.
The Chumash.
The Jewish scriptures are also from in bound form that correspond to the weekly readings
 (called parshiyot in Hebrew). Scriptures bound in this way are  referred to as a chumash. The word "chumash" comes from the Hebrew word meaning five, and refers to the five books of the Torah. Sometimes, a chumash is simply refers to a collection of the five books of the Torah.
 But often, a chumash contains the entire first five books, divided up by the weekly parshiyot, with the haftarah portion inserted after each week's parshah.
In our home, we have both. This way we can not only keep up with the weekly reading, but discuss the passages doing the week.
You can also find Torah Scrolls in the home. It isn't usual for a family to own their own Torah. And in the home, the Torah Scroll is given the same honour and respect as you would find in a Synagugoe. How wonderful it is when children are brought up to love and respect G-d's Holy Word, right in their own home. coming to embrace Her at an early age.
More next time.
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