Care of Your Torah

November 24, 2016 22:48
The other day I was asked if I could extend a vav that someone had noticed had faded and looked like a yud as this was making the Torah pasul (invalid). .

While doing so I glanced back at the predeeding amud (column) and saw about a dozen broken or incomplete letters that similarly invalidated the Torah. I didn't have a lot of time, but regardless I still fixed these. No doubt there are problems in the Torah and it will need a proper check. However whilst doing the other letters I was assured by one of the congregants that there was no real need to do this as they could still read them as they were still obviously those letters, unlike the vav mentioned above.

I assured them that actually that isn't the case at all.

In my little booklet 'Care of Your Torah', I have a phrase - 'legible doesn't necessarily mean kasher'. If a letter is damaged or broken or faded badly and there isn't at minimum a complete and unbroken outline it is pasul. It might be absolutely obvious what that letter is supposed to be but unless it is complete it isn't okay.

One of the reasons I produced the booklet was to help congregations recognise when they actually have a real problem and should call in a sofer (who you gonna call... Ghostbusters?). Another was to try to prevent well meaning people actually damaging their torah by trying to mark places for bar/bat mitsvah boys or girls or trying to fix them with the wrong materials and not according to halacha with the proper intention.

Shameless plug then. If you are a congregation then you should have the guide. Available at and see the Care of Your Torah image gallery on

Prevention is way better (and a lot cheaper) than cure. You might ask why a sofer would want to reduce his business? Well actually my job is to make sure a Torah is kasher. If I can do that by stopping it getting damaged in the first place then job done too. Keset Hasofer says that sofrim should be 'haters of profit'. Sure we want to get paid and be valued for the skills we offer (possibly more than we are, according to Yerachmiel Asmotsky who astutely points out that whilst we're all prepared to pay a plumber when something needs to be done, we're more inclined to quibble about the sofer's charge when something much more holy than the pipes needs to be done) but our main aim is to protect Hashem's word and it pains us to see the damage done.

So if you want to help prevent damage or be aware of what damage renders a Torah pasul, don't say I didn't tell you where to go.
November 24, 2016 22:48

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