Dr. John Turner

A Simple Explanation of Why the Torah Scroll Is Important

The Torah Scroll is the holiest of all documents for the Jewish people. Physically, it may look like nothing more than pieces of parchment sewn together to make a long spool, but this scroll means so much more than meets the eye.

Let’s start off with how the Torah scroll is made…

An entire authentic Torah scroll, meticulously written out by hand, takes about a year to complete. It requires trained skill and mastery as even the tiniest error in spelling or lettering will make the entire document invalid.

Composed of 304,805 Hebrew letters, with 42 lines per page, a Torah scroll must be written using the same tools and methods as the ancients more than three thousand years ago. These include traditional quills and specialized ink. The Jewish scribe who writes the Torah and other religious writings is referred to as a sofer. A sofer must not only have knowledge of at least 4,000 Judaic laws before he can have the authority to transcribe a Torah scroll – he must also bathe in a ritual bath called a mikvah before he can write the four-letter Hebrew name of God. The mikveh is the Jewish historical root for baptism.

The real value of the Torah…

The intricacy of preparing, writing, and selecting the right person to transcribe the Torah is only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, its real value cannot be gauged by the specificity of the process alone as its spiritual significance to the Jews is paramount.

The Torah, also known as the first five books of Moses – B’resheet (Genesis), Sh’mot (Exodus), Vayikra (Leviticus), B’midbar (Numbers), and D’varim (Deuteronomy) — is regarded by the Jewish people as the rules for living according to God’s instructions as spoken by God himself to Moses on Mount Sinai. This is why a sofer must transcribe the Torah exactly with no error in any form.

Contained in these five books are the 613 commandments, further classified into 10, known to the Jews as The Ten Words. Essentially, these books describe how the Jewish people are to live their lives in accordance with the standards and will of God. In the English translation, Torah means teaching, law and instruction – which is exactly how the Jewish people regard this holy writing.

The Torah Scroll in Jewish services…

Three times every week, the Torah Scroll is taken out of the Ark and read aloud to the congregation in three separate portions. The scroll is carried around the room where congregants may lay their hand or a Bible upon it as it passes. All eyes are upon the scroll as it makes its way around the room. Synagogues do this because the Word is literally made flesh in the person of the promised Messiah. If the Messiah were to be in room walking about, you can bet all eyes would be upon Him and every hand would reach out to touch Him. This is performed in the synagogue where the congregation meets on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, which is the Shabbat (Sabbath). On Mondays and Thursdays there are shorter readings, while the anticipated main event happens on Shabbat.

The manner in which the Torah is delivered to the congregation is as delicate as the creation and construction of the scroll. The reader must be skilled and have excellent mastery of the portions as he needs to read them flawlessly. After all, every public Torah reading is a celebration of the gift and calling of God to His people as expressed by Moses when he said, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law [Torah] that I set before you today?” -Deut. 4:7-8.



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