Sopher Checks a Sepher Torah
A sopher (scribe) checks a Sepher Torah (scroll of the Pentateuch) to ensure there are no errors and that each letter is perfect, thus ensuring it is kosher (literally, pure and fit for use). If there is the slightest blemish, such as a crack in the ink of any letter, the sopher must repair it. The image comes from my photo-essay “From Generation to Generation – orthodox Jewish communities in America”, made possible through a grant from Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation. A signed and numbered set of silver gelatin prints are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Art in Houston.
As an additional note: one of the truly remarkable things about the Sepher Torah is that every single Torah, since time immemorial, is identical throughout the entire world. All are inked by hand, on proscribed parchment. No variations are permitted, each line of each Sepher starting and ending with the same word – there are no variations whatsoever.