Torah I.D.

Don't All Torahs Look Alike?

To the untrained eye all Torahs, when open, look alike. Once one begins to look closely, however, one begins to see differences from one Torah to another- in size, in script, in texture of parchment, in sharpness of letters, etc. In fact, as hard as it may be to believe, just as there are identical fingerprints there are also no Torah scrolls that are identical one to another. Even if you take a close look at two or more Torah scrolls written by the same scribe you will see that they are not identical.

And this is where Machon Ot’s Torah Identification Program begins to play a vital role. It wasn’t long ago that the Israeli police recovered 40 stolen Torahs. The police were soon inundated with people trying to reclaim their stolen Torahs. The problem was that once removed from their covers, rollers or case- all the parchments looked alike. Out of the 40 Torahs recovered- not even one has been positively identified. No one could prove beyond doubt that a specific Torah was in fact their Torah. 

Machon Ot’s Torah Identification Program was developed specifically to prevent such occurrences from reoccurring. We all hope and pray that our Torah(s) will never be stolen- but in the event a Torah is recovered the Israel police, as well as other police departments around the world, will accept Machon Ot’s computerized Torah identification as positive proof of ownership. Without the need to attach or in any way mark the Torah, Machon Ot has developed a method of “fingerprinting” a Torah- and it is this “fingerprint”, just as in the case of human identification, that provides proof positive of ownership.

While Torah theft occurs from time to time it is not, thank G-d, an everday occurrence there are other instances where these “fingerprints” come in handy. For example, in most Ashkenazi synagogues, the colored Torah mantles are changed to white mantles in honor of the High Holy Days. Following the holidays, the mantles are changed again. Who is to guarantee that the correct mantle is returned to “its” Torah- especially in a synagogue whose Ark contains many Torahs. Or a family which decides to take its Torah out of the synagogue to which it was loaned many years earlier in order to loan it to another synagogue- how are the synagogue officers to be certain which Torah is “their” Torah? 

Every Torah registered and “fingerprinted” by Machon Ot is entered to the International Torah registry, a data base which now contains close to 16,000 Torah scrolls. Machon Ot strongly suggests that you also register the Torah you now own, or your Torah that is on loan, or the Torah that you are planning to purchase- for your own peace of mind and for the peace of mind of your children and grandchildren.