Noahide Laments Desecration of a Torah Scroll

To the Editor of the Jackson Sun:

All decent people were distressed to learn that on the twelfth day of January, 20’13, a Torah Scroll and Jewish holy books were desecrated and defaced in Jackson, Tennessee.

However, one would hope that even out of a deed such as this a lesson could be learned. Local media have made much of the monetary loss sustained by the owners (the cost of the hand-written Torah Scroll is typically in the range of $30,000 or more) and of the issue of religious bigotry. However, aside from these two issues very little has been said about just what these items are and why their defacement is such a horrible thing. The purpose of this letter is to educate the non-Jewish public as to exactly what a Torah Scroll is and why it is so holy and deserving of so much respect.

A Torah Scroll consists of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy in their original and authentic form. A Torah Scroll is hand written by a trained scribe on hand-made organic parchment sheets, which are processed from kosher animal hide and stitched together with the tendons of kosher animals; the writing itself is made with special ink formulated from berry juices. The rules and regulations for writing a Torah Scroll are very strict. It takes about a year for a trained scribe to write one. This explains the high monetary cost. But even more important is the fact that this scroll is the Word of G-d in its purest and most perfect form.

Of all the religious books in the world, only the Torah—the five Biblical books enumerated above—were directly dictated by G-d. Moses himself wrote down the letters at G-d’s dictation. The training process for scribes and the labyrinthine rules and regulations for transcribing from an existing Torah Scroll to a new one in an unbroken chain from Moses, serve to assure that each and every kosher Torah Scroll in the world is an accurate reproduction of the original Scroll which Moses wrote at G-d’s dictation – all 304,805 letters.

Almost every synagogue in the world has at least one (and usually more) of these holy Scrolls. At certain points in the worship service on several days of the week, they are reverently removed from the Ark and publicly read from, just as Moses ordained over three thousand years ago. Other than the Tablets of the Ten Commandments in Ark of the Covenant, which were hidden in an unknown location before the destruction of the First Holy Temple, Torah Scrolls are the holiest objects in Judaism. They are piously kissed and treated with the greatest of care, and when disintegration sets in (or after such acts as happened on January 12) they are to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

The Torah Scroll is the original Bible. Every Bible in the world begins with the Five Books of Moses. Its Hebrew text is the  foundation upon which everything else stands. Even Chr’stianity acknowledges this and has always regarded the Five Books of Moses as canonical. Without the holy Torah Scroll there would be no Bible for anyone.

Beyond the issues of this act of destructive religious bigotry and anti-Semitism is the important issue of the fear of Heaven and the proper treatment of holy things. The true issue here is not multiculturalism or political correctness. The issue is reverence for G-d and a fear of offending Him that has been all but lost in our secular and increasingly violent and hateful culture.

As for the prayer books that were similarly desecrated, they contain (in the original Hebrew) Psalms, Biblical passages, and prayers composed by the Holy Prophets which Jews are obliged to recite at least three times every day. They should also be treated with the greatest respect and reverence. I only know that, G-d forbid, I should not like to face my judgment day  with such a crime against G-d on my spiritual balance sheet.

Like all religions, Orthodox Judaism makes claims about objective truth. Rather than engage in religious subjectivism and indifferentism, let us take this terrible event as an occasion to educate ourselves. To learn more about Torah-based Judaism, and the Seven Noahide Commandments from the Book of Genesis which are still binding on all non-Jews, please visit asknoah.org.

Finally, let us all repent and pray that G-d’s anger not be directed at us for such terrible things, and that we may all be restored to the true path in accordance with His will.     Sincerely,  R. N. G. [ben Noach]

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