Exploring the Sacred Art: Parts of a Torah Scroll

The Torah scroll, a central element in Jewish tradition, is a handwritten copy of the first five books of the Bible. This meticulously crafted masterpiece is essential for Jewish worship and study. Understanding its intricate parts not only deepens one’s appreciation for the Torah but also showcases the rich heritage and craftsmanship that go into its creation. In this article, we’ll explore the various parts of a Torah scroll.

1. Parchment

At the core of every Torah scroll is the parchment, known as “klaf” in Hebrew. Parchment is made from the hides of kosher animals, traditionally cows. The hide undergoes a rigorous process to ensure it is suitable for writing. Each section of parchment is carefully selected to meet the highest standards, and any flaws are meticulously corrected.

2. Panels

The parchment is divided into panels, usually containing three to four columns of text each. These panels are sewn together using a unique method that ensures the Torah scroll is both durable and flexible. The number of panels can vary, but most Torah scrolls have between 62 and 84 panels.

3. Columns

Each panel is divided into columns, typically two or three. The columns contain the sacred text of the Torah, written in Hebrew using a special script known as “Ktav Ashurit” or Ashuri script. The columns are carefully spaced and aligned to create a visually pleasing and readable layout.

4. Text

The heart of the Torah scroll is, of course, the text itself. The Torah contains the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Every word, letter, and space in the text is written with precision and reverence. A skilled scribe, or “sofer,” handwrites each letter using a quill and special ink, ensuring that no mistakes are made during the transcription.

5. Letters

The letters in a Torah scroll are formed according to strict guidelines. Each letter must meet specific size and shape requirements, and they must be evenly spaced and aligned. The Torah contains 304,805 letters, and the meticulousness of the scribe’s work ensures the accuracy of every letter.

6. Tagin (Crowning Flourishes)

Some letters in the Torah text are adorned with “tagin,” small decorative crowns or flourishes. These tagin are not essential for the script’s meaning but are included as a tradition and symbolize the importance of the Torah’s words.

7. Parashiot and Haftarot

The text of the Torah is divided into weekly portions called “parashiot.” Additionally, there are sections from the Prophets, known as “Haftarot,” that are read on Shabbat and holidays. These divisions are marked in the Torah scroll, allowing the reader to know where each portion begins and ends.

8. Mantle and Belt

To protect and honor the Torah scroll, it is typically encased in a decorative fabric covering called a “mantle.” A belt, often adorned with intricate embroidery or designs, is used to tie the mantle securely around the scroll. These coverings are an expression of reverence for the Torah’s sacred contents.


A Torah scroll is not just a book; it is a sacred work of art and devotion. Every part of its creation, from the selection of parchment to the formation of each letter, reflects the deep respect and spirituality associated with this central element of Jewish life. Studying the parts of a Torah scroll allows us to appreciate the meticulous craftsmanship and profound symbolism that make it an enduring symbol of the Jewish faith.

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