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May 08

A Peek Inside the Torah

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We had an impromptu Torah exploration today! It all started with a question.

One child is beginning to learn to chant three פסוקים (pesukim–verses) from בראשית (Breishit–Genesis). I handed her a copy of the verses on a piece of printer paper. Her text has Hebrew letters, vowels, and Torah trope.

Child: What is this? It’s not a vowel that I know.

Morah: Oh you’ve noticed the trope. That helps tell someone how to sing the word. Do you see that symbol anywhere else?

Child: No but there’s a lot of other ones. How does a person learn how to chant Torah? It’s so hard to sound out the words.

Morah: What do you think?

Child: I think they sound out the words with the vowels.

Morah: Do you think that the Torah has vowels and trope inside of it? How can we find out?

Child: We could look in a Torah.

So we did! And we scrolled the Torah all the way past Moshe (we decided he belonged in Sefer Shemot [Exodus]) all the way back to (Sefer Breishit) to the exact lines that she was learning to chant.

The conclusion: There are NO vowels or trope inside of the Torah. “Does that mean that someone has to memorize how to chant the Torah? What if it’s a REALLY long reading?” We didn’t come to any solutions to that question today.

Also of interest today:

  • Why does the Torah get wrapped in something soft?

  • Is the Torah taped together? Was it broken?

  • Why are there so many spaces in between the words in this part of the Torah? (Possible answers: 1) The person writing got tired; 2) That part is supposed to be blank; 3) The person writing the Torah forgot a word.)

What an exciting day!

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