What is all the pomp and circumstance in the Torah service? Part 1 of 2 (next week will be Part 2) Originally published January 12-13, 2018

The Sefer Torah is considered our most holy book.  We dress it royally, carry it regally, and ritualize its taking out, opening and reading and closing, and putting away, in order to give (and convey) the proper respect.  Whenever the Ark is opened, we stand.  Whenever the Sefer Torah is being carried or dressed or undressed or is otherwise “in play,” we stand.  We do not sit until the scroll is resting and the Ark is closed (by curtain or by door).

We never touch the parchment of the Sefer Torah, which is made of animal skins.  (If it is old enough, the skins may have been soaked in canine urine to shape them.  That will remind you not to touch it!  Newer scrolls’ parchment is soaked in lime or other chemicals.)  There are between 60 and 85 sheets of parchment in a Sefer Torah, sewn together with sinew, and the letters are written with specially made black ink, with a feather quill, by a sofer, a scribe.

The Torah is the writing of the Five Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible.  The Sefer Torah is the scroll itself, containing the Torah.  More than one Sefer Torah would be Sifrei Torah.