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general repairs

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

Through the site are examples of repairs that I have made to Sifrey Torah or Megillot.  However this page looks at some of the more common repair needs from more real life examples.

strange sewing with string

One of the first things that you do is roll the scroll from end to end, looking as you go for obvious areas of problems, such as faded text (right).  However, you might also get a surprise when you get to the

faded text

ends, as sometimes the atsey chayim are attached with string and not giddin, such as the one above left which had also had a rectangular sewing pattern.  The string had to go!

Faded areas, as mentioned previously on the site are often as a result of the chalky log (k’laf mashuach - coated parchment) which means the letters flake off giving a gritty surface to the letters.  Once rubbed down with an eraser or a clean cloth, overwriting is generally done with a more dilute ink, and is often quite difficult (harder than writing afresh) as you are pulling against old (gritty) ink.  In addition using full strength ink can make the letters stand very proud and look very black against the older ink for those letters that haven’t lifted.  Please please please do not try to repair using ordinary ink or, as seen in one case, biro!

blotted resh

Other areas may involve blotted letters.  This may have been caused by water damage.  Here you can see a blotted resh which has totally lost it’s form - it is

mended and patched resh

lo k’tsurato (not according to it’s form) and is therefore invalid.  It is also touching the nearby shin, (which itself is touching its roofs together).  Scraping out the excess ink (with glass or sharp flint, though many scribes do use a scalpel) round the resh to form the letter would not be allowed - this is chok tochot, (carving out) so the whole letter has to go (indeed in this instance the shin too).  However the k’laf was dangerously thin and scraping produced a hole, which led to the need for a patch behind in order to make the correction.

patches

Patching (ie sticking a piece of k’laf from behind) can be used to reinforce the seams joining the yeriot (sheets) together, get rid of holes in the margins, straightening up margin edges where there may be tears and also to replace certain small sections of text which have errors and the k’laf cannot take the scraping out.  Unfortunately a lot of well meaning people occassionally use sellotape to reinforce or repair scrolls - it leaves an awful residue marking that it very difficult to get off and is not a valid means of repair.

The scribe here (left) has patched in a few words.  However the k’laf colour rarely matches and it doesn’t look good.  Also many scribes seem to make little effort to try to ape the style of the original writer when they patch it.There are rules regarding patching and the need to affix the patch first, rule and the right.  Patching in an area involving God’s name is generally frowned upon as the patch might become loose and God’s name might fall off into a disgraceful area.  Hence since you cannot scrape out God’s name and you shouldn’t really cut out and patch you would need to replace the whole amud!

However there is a very skilled scribe in Israel who can (and I have no idea how he does this) lift out with a scalpel the name of God intact on a very thin piece of the k’laf (near right) leaving clean k’laf underneath to write on!

the corrected shirat hayam
peeled hashem

The picture above (far right, thrid line in) shows a section of Shir Hashirim where the original scribe erred and wrote the wrong name of God (the Tetragrammaton).  This has been removed and the right version using aleph, dalet, nun and yud has been written in.  The original mistake was probably made because all of the other Names in the song are the Tetragrammaton.  However whilst the scroll is now technically kasher it does call into question the kavannah (spiritual intention) of the original scribe who should have been writing l’shem kdushat hashem (for the sake of the holiness of the Name) and paying much more attention.

too close together

As indeed should the scribe who has patched the Torah on the left and though he shouldn’t have, has written the Tetragrammaton on a patch which has slipped and the first yud of God’s name is now right next to the last letter yud of ani (I) which makes it pasul because it is appearing as one word.

Finally patching (so to speak) can be taken to the extreme and quite often is as scribes endeavour to save Sifrey Torah from genizah by cannibalizing the good parts of various ones to make up one good one.

parchment not level

The picture above shows a rolled scroll with different parchment lengths and types.

Mordechai Pinchas

These patchwork Sifrey Torah are perfectly kasher and usually an interesting mixture of scribal styles and parchment types and line lengths (see right).  Indeed trying to trim the margins to get a consistent parchment length is quite a task. 

can see the difference

Please note that this page contains the name of God a few times for illustrative purposes.  If you print it out, please take care of it.

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