Restoration of Falmouth Sefer Torah 2
Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, December 2013
Sefer Torah at Royal Cornwall Museum
The terms I have used throughout the report include:
נקי – Naki parchment
this is the term used for simple, clean parchment without any lime / chalk paste.
משוח – Mashuach parchment
this is pasted parchment – can be pasted either on the outside of the Sefer Torah only or on both sides. Since the 1960s this has been banned by the State of Israel, but on the outside only was popular on most Sifrei Torah from the 18th / 19th Century onwards.
Sifrei Torah on Mashuach parchment, especially inside and outside are of lower value.
ווי עמודים– Vavei Amudim
This is the term used to describe the beginning of each Amud – column. Sifrei Torah with Vavei amudim are always in demand as they are popular with the Baal Korei (person leyning). Further it standardises the layout and almost 100% of new Sifrei Torah written today are in this format. There are at least 3 variations to the standard 42 lines.
When reviewing this report, I would like to convey that whilst my work as a Sofer Magiah is corrective – restoring Sifrei Torah – it is also aimed very highly at encouraging congregations to bring back Sifrei Torah into rotating use in a Synagogue.
It should be noted that whilst letters can be corrected if they have peeled, or are very light it is impossible to correct every dark brown letter and it is only where the letter is feint or very faded in colour (ie very light brown) that there is a halachic need to correct it.
Today we use Etz Chaim with a top double disc on Bereishit and a double disc on the bottom – Devarim end. The Etz Chaim also has a rotating stopper to stop the parchment from being lopsided and wearing out the edges which in normal Etz Chaim get ruined due to the discs hitting the edges
Finally, one of the main aspects of my work is the preservation of the klaf skins and the writing. Although the procedures and skills of Safrus have not and will never change, we now have modern aids like computer checking, sprays, inks etc which are halachically permissible and help Sifrei Torah survive for future generations.
Sefer Torah 2 –ב – Falmouth
This Sefer Torah has the following characteristics:
- Ashkenazi – medium clear writing.
- Is mashuach parchment
- Weight is light
- Parchment size is 33 cm
- 53 Lines
This Sefer Torah is more than 250 years old and comes from the German Bohemian areas, based on the type of writing. I understand that it has been in the Falmouth community and being small has certainly had good use.
The Sefer Torah’s letters were obviously in bad condition in every column throughout, due to its age etc. In normal circumstances, I would not have attempted to repair or restore this type of Sefer Torah, due to the many many hours required to touch up every single letter, however it was an honour to restore this Sefer as I know that it is an intrinsically important to the Cornwall community
This Sefer Torah did have potential, subject to the above provision that all the letters needed attention as well as the holes in the parchment needed careful repair.
Sefer Torah 2
Restored and returned to Cornwall – Kehillat Kernow