Sunday, September 21, 2008

A New Torah

There was a lot of excitement in our shul this week. A new Sefer Torah arrived amid a flurry of anticipation and activity. I have never witnessed the inauguration of a new Torah scroll before and got quite caught up in the joy of it all.

First off a ceremony was held at the Rabbi’s house. Several of the men, including my husband, were asked to ‘finish’ the Torah. The letters had already been written and simply needed coloring in. However, the task was more complex than you might think, as the tool for the job was a feather quill! I was worried my husband, not used to such an old fashioned writing tool, might accidentally splodge some ink on the parchment. I think I would have been far too nervous, had I been given the opportunity to write on the scroll.

There are so many specific regulations that need to be adhered to when writing a Torah; from the level of observance of the ‘sofer’ or writer, to the distance apart of each line, letter and word. The Torah must be perfect to be kosher so, at all stages of its creation, care needs to be taken to ensure that each letter is properly formed and that there are no errors at all.

With much luck and a steady hand, all the men rose the occasion and the final letters were duly ‘colored in’. Following on from the completion of the Torah, it was paraded along the street in a procession, under a chupa (like a wedding canopy) and escorted amongst much excitement and ceremony to the shul. At the shul there were many people waiting to receive it and the evening was rounded off with fireworks and celebratory dancing.

I have been a member of many old synagogues with Torah scrolls dating back many years. How lovely to be present for the installation of a new Torah, one that I hope will service a growing community.

Sharona B