Back of my last mezuzah
So, I was working at a Conservative synagogue today, repairing one of their Torah scrolls. They're very friendly there, especially the rabbi, who is this fabulous German-Mexican JTS rav. I am always impressed by him each time we meet - I do some teaching there as well as work on their Torahs - because he exudes such passion for Judaism & such rigid ethical standards. It's like he's constantly on fire. I really admire him.
Unfortunately, each time I come to do repairs, the mantle has been inevitably switched on the Sefer I'm fixing & it always takes me a while to find it. & as they continue using the Torahs that are pasul (there are leniencies permitting this, so there's no problem), they are never rolled to the place where I left them. So each visit is rather time consuming in the beginning, but I manage. I just have to correct each one from one end or thre other all the way through, otherwise I'll miss a bit & that won't do. The Sefer I was repairing today has further degraded since I first checked & assessed it, as it is in delicate condition (it's from before 1860 & has some water damage) & in regular use. If I could just get them to give it a little break until I've re-kashered it, I'd be so happy.
But maybe I should be so happy anyway :)
So this rabbi told me a story of a well known sofer who came to his synagogue & asked to look at the Torahs. He whipped one out & threw it open & was very careless & rough with it as he rolled through it, announcing all it's problems. He insisted that he take all the synagogues Torah scrolls back to LA with him to repair. The rabbi said no. This is not a piece of wood, he said, not only some fabric. This is a Sefer Torah, & you have shown no kavod (respect) in handling it, so you cannot touch any of them.
I also had the pleasure of meeting another rabbi, a charming Israeli-Brazillian rav from the Qol Ya'aqov yeshivah. He teaches kabbalah here in Vancouver & guess what? He doesn't teach at synagogues or the JCC, he teaches at regular, not-Jewish community centres & even the Peretz Centre (for secular Jewish culture). Kol haKavod to him!
Front of my last mezuzah:
Talmud Bavli Eruvin 13a shares this exchange to support our understanding that global care of one's Self is necessary to perform sofrut:
When R' Meir became a student of R' Yishmael, the latter asked him, "My son, what is your profession?" R' Meir replied, "I am a scribe." To this R' Yishmael remarked, "My son, be scrupulous in your work, for it is a heavenly pursuit, & should you delete one letter or add one letter, such effort is tantamount to destroying the entire world."
Let's Keep the world going!