The Torah scroll is a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses, hand-written by a pious scribe in the original Hebrew. It is rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts, attached to either end of the scroll.

Kept in the Ark of each synagogue, the Torah scroll is routinely read aloud in all synagogues, and in its presence we offer prayers and blessings for all those in need. We read from the Torah scroll four times a week, on Shabbat morning, Shabbat afternoon, and on Monday and Thursday mornings. In addition, the Torah is read on many Jewish festivals, the first day(s) of the new Hebrew month and fast days.

Yet the Torah scroll is much more than that. It is the core representation of Judaism itself. It is the tangible embodiment of our connection to G‑d and of His wisdom and guidance. On the most joyous day of the year, we embrace it in our arms, as we dance ecstatically and celebrate that connection. Our holiest and most precious treasure, the Torah, is literally G‑d's gift to the world. The Torah is our guide to life. Actually, the Torah is our life. Without it, the Jewish People cannot live. It is the heart, mind and soul of Judaism, right there in front of you, black on white. The original hard copy.

The first Torah scroll in history was dictated by G‑d verbatim and written by Moses, just before his passing. In his parting words, he told them to listen to the words found in that scroll and to reference them in response to life's questions. They taught their children to do the same, and that's how we've kept its tradition until this day.

From that Torah scroll, many identical copies were hand-written by a pious scribe, and likewise in all subsequent generations. Today there are many hundreds of thousands of Torah scrolls in existence.

In the Torah scroll, the Song of the Sea (“Az Yashir”) is laid out in a unique format, resembling a brick wall.
(Photo: Rabbi Yosef Y. Rabin, Craft Sofer)