Thursday, February 13, 2014

Old Torah Scroll

Last week I was approached by a Christian Copt, who was offering this Torah Scroll for sale.

This Torah was missing one Eitz Chayim and the ink was already fading away. All in all, the scroll was in not a great state, and surely not Kosher. Note how it has been cut in the bottom margin, rendering it not Mukaf Gevil, which by itself enough to invalidate the whole scroll. 

The guy wanted 5000 dollars for it, which is an exhorbitant price tag for a scroll that is not usable. Plus, there's a prohibition of purchasing a scroll like this because this kind of transaction will encourage others to steal more scrolls for re-sale. 

Nowadays, many scrolls are inscribed with an invisible mark which allows experts to trace back the origin of the scroll but 150 year old scrolls like this one are difficult to trace and identify. 


Anonymous said...

I'm researching Torah scrolls that have had the bottom margins removed - this is the 5th one I'm aware of - so any additional details or photographs about this scroll would be helpful.

Matthew Hamilton
Sydney, Australia

YK said...

Unfortunately the pictures is all I have... any idea on why the margins are cut?

Matthew Hamilton said...

I'm assuming 2 possibilities.
The first is to tidy up a damaged and ragged edge to make the remaining part, with the columns of text, more presentable for sale to collectors - there are several recent examples of this in places like eBay but also (it seems) at least 1 example from the 19th century
The second is to make use of the unwritten on margin for other purposes. These purposes might include:
the making amulets - I have not yet found any examples of this
the repairing of other Torah scrolls - have found at least 1 example of this
the making of a forgery - there is 1 claim for this, the Shapira MS, the MS I am researching, but it is possible (probable?) that it is not a forgery