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.)