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Tikkun for Megillat Hashoah

Care of Your Torah

Modern Moses

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The Song of the World photo book

East London Synagogue

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Megillat HaY’shuah (the salvation scroll)


Sefer Binsoa - the book of Binsoa

k’tonet (the torah cover)

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer
Fire scroll cover front
the fire scroll

I didn't know the history of the baby torah that my synagogue acquired before I set about designing a cover for it , but through one of those amazing coincidences the final design very much fitted what had happened to the Torah.  The design was based on a midrash that had once read (though have never managed to find the source) that the last letter of the Torah (lamed) and the first (bet) combine to spell the Hebrew word lev, meaning heart as the Torah is the heart of our life.  Moreover as we witness yearly on Simchat Torah the reading of the five books of Moses is continuous, and as we end D'varim we begin Bereshit.

Fire scroll cover back

Above: the front of the scroll with the letters lev (heart) Above right: The back of the scroll with letters fading to a point and re-emerging.

This conjured up the image of the mobian loop, the never ending infinity (God in kabbalistic literature is often refrred to as the eyn sof (without end ie infinity) and hence the first words of Bereshit gradually get smaller until they become the last words of D'varim and one merely has to imagine that the whole torah is in between!  Another famous midrash comments that the words of the aseret hadibrot (ten commandments) were written by God in black fire on white fire* and so I designed my letters to resemble fire with reds and oranges merging into yellows and whites.  The whole thing was very faithfully reproduced by a very talented seamstress, Ellen** and presented to the synagogue many years ago.

The fire scroll

The baby ‘fire’ scroll - you can see the damage where the parchment has been soaked and then dried and the carbon deposits perhaps from the bullet!

Close up of damaged torah

So, why was this very apt.  Well, it appears that the baby scroll, was one of the Czech scrolls which survived WW2 because of the inexplicable uncharacteristic  change of heart by a young German SS officer.  As the scroll was being elevated in a small shul in Zilnia in Czechoslovakia, one of his SS colleagues fired a single shot through the scroll.  Most of the Jews had run from the service but some had stood their ground.  A few weeks later passing near the synagogue again the young  German officer saw a group of Polish labourers burning the furnishings of the synagogue and saw the small scroll thrown onto the fire though fortunately at its edge.  Remembering the bravery of the Jews who had held up the scroll previously he grabbed it and carried it hurriedly to a patch of melting snow saving it from the flames. 

Is this the true tale of the fire scroll - who can tell?

Mordechai Pinchas

link to psalm 19 scrolls

Go to next page - the Psalm
19 scroll

* see the Psalm 19 scrolls for more on God's word being compared to fire.
* see Diary 10 for Ellen's contribution to the Harlow megillah.

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