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A Sefer Torah, which is the holiest object in Judaism, is a handwritten copy of the Torah that contains the Five Books of Moses (the Pentateuch). On Shabbat and on Jewish holidays, the Torah is read in synagogue from a handwritten scroll, called a Sefer Torah, in keeping with the age-old tradition. Scribed by hand on sections of goatskin, calfskin or sheepskin parchment that could stretch half the length of a football field, each Torah scroll contains 304,805 letters that must be perfectly reproduced each time a Torah is written. There are three basic Hebrew scripts, which are extremely ornate, that are used today. While the Beit Yoseph script, which is generally used by Ashkenazi Jews, and the Ari script, which is usually used by Chassidic Jews, are similar, they vary in the form of 5 or 6 letters. Vellish script, whose lettering is bolder and more rounded, is typically used by Sephardic Jews. Additionally, there are two types of scrolls, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, and the difference is mainly in the materials that are used, as previously stated, and in the style of writing. For most communities, the scribe writes with a quill on parchment; however, in the Sephardic tradition, scribes use a reed to write on leather.
Hundreds of strict, governing laws determine every aspect of the Sefer Torah’s production. The Sefer Torah is written by a scribe, who is specifically trained for this holy task, on sheets of scored parchment, which is a specially prepared skin of a kosher animal, usually a cow. The parchment is meticulously prepared by the scribe. First, he soaks the skin in lime water to remove the attached hairs, then stretches it over a wooden frame to dry. While it is drying, the scribe scrapes the skin to remove the remaining hair and smooths its surface, with the use of a sanding machine, to ensure it is prepared for writing. When the skin is dry, the scribe cuts the parchment into a rectangle, which yields space for about three or four columns. Thus, the scribe must prepare many skins in such a manner because a Sefer Torah contains about 248 columns, therefore requiring about 60 total skins.
When the parchment sheets are ready, the scribe measures out lines and columns using a stylus to ensure that each sheet has at least three columns, with a margin of three inches on the top, four inches at the bottom, and two inches between columns. Most Torah scrolls are written in 245 columns of 42 lines each. Before beginning to write the sacred text, the scribe makes quills from the feathers of a kosher bird, usually a goose, and carefully carves a point in the end of the feather. A scribe uses many quills in the course of writing one Sefer Torah; once he has prepared all of the writing utensils, he must create the ink for the holy text. In order to prepare the ink, the scribe combines a small amount of powdered gall nuts, copper sulfate crystals, gum Arabic, and water so that the ink will remain fresh and deep black in color.
After it is hand-written, the Torah is reviewed three different times to check for any mistakes and repair it accordingly. From there, the sheets of the Torah are sewn together with gut from a kosher animal, and ceremoniously installed into a synagogue.