Can you tell me about the process and who does it? How long it takes? What it costs? what animal?
How and where do they get the Parchment for Sefer Torahs?(14 posts)
hi always it's always great to see you.
The parchment, or Klaf as it is called,
used for the Sefer Torah, is made
from the hides of an animal of the
Kosher species. The most preferable
quality parchment is Shlil, the hide of
the embryo or a newborn calf. The
surface of the Klaf should not be
coated or glazed. Approximately sixty-
two hides are needed for a complete
Sefer Torah. The average size of a
newly written Sefer Torah is between
17 to 20 inches however, smaller sizes
Kosher Parchment called Klaf must
be prepared specifically for that
purpose (ie. the klaf for a Torah
cannot be used for Tefillin, and vice
versa). The parchment must derive
from a kosher animal, usually a
goat, bull /cow, or deer. The Klaf is
meticulously prepared by the
Sofer, who first soaks the skin in
lime water for nine days to remove
hairs, and then stretches the skin
over a wooden frame to dry. The
Sofer scrapes the skin while it is
stretched over the wooden frame
to remove more hair and smooths
the surface of the skin in
preparation for writing on it with
the use of a sanding machine. When
the skin is dry, the Sofer cuts it
into a rectangle. The Sofer must
prepare many such skins because a
Sefer Torah usually contains 248
columns, and one rectangle of
parchment yields space for three or
four columns. Thus a Sefer Torah
may require up to 80 or more
skins in all.
Finally, When the parchment sheets
are ready, the Sofer applies a
straight edge to draw a writing
pattern - usually forty two
horizontal lines across the
parchment and two vertical lines
defining the boundaries for each
column. He also leaves a blank
space between the area designed
for writing and the margin -
(according to the tradition, it has to
be five fingers wide). Thus, a Sofer
will have at least three to four
columns on each piece of
parchment - called amudim (amud -
a column). In general, there should
be no less than three amudim on
one yeriah (sheet or folio) and not more than eight. There must be a margin of three inches on the top, four
inches at the bottom, and two
inches between columns. Now the
parchment is waiting for the writing
process to start.
most klaf nowadays is machine processed, not 'stretched between a wooden frame etc.' That's why if you look at the klaf of new sifrei torah you will see a diamond pattern which is the pattern of the metal grid the klaf was dried on. Also I'm not sure it's still done with lime (which is quite slow). The old style klaf is becoming difficult to get hold of and does provide a better writing surface.
AFAIK you can't get shlil today.
pcoz: I just looked at a yeriah I have at home. I don't see any such pattern. Are you sure everyone does that?
ItcheSrulik - you can get shlil today, the industry term is slinks. These are normally from aborted foetuses taken from milk cows where the cow was brought to that state in order so that it would produce milk. Slinks are quite cheap becuase they don't have many other uses.
I have seen the diamond pattern, but I guess not all klaf is necesarily dried the same way. There were some yungerleit who started producing chemical tanned klaf in Israel a few years ago. Anyway I doubt if you are buying klaf today that this is hand tanned and frame dried unless you paid a premium for it.
There is an old-fashioned parchment maker in upstate NY in the Hudson Valley who still makes it the old way - soaked in lime, hand stretched on metal framed, had scraped, and hand-prepared even before it goes into the lime bath. I have NEVER worked with such amazing quality parchment before. Since it is all hand done, they can often make it to-order, so I can choose the size, dimensions, and thickness of the piece, and can even get it surfaced for writing on both sides. They do cow, sheep, goat, and occasionally deer and buffalo skins. Unfortunately, they are not Jewish, so I only buy from them for when I'm writing non-kisvei kodesh (In addition to megilos, I write and illustrate kesubos, custom bentchers, haggados, and other art-pieces).
The place is called Pergemena. Check them out online.
pcoz: I did pay through the nose for it but I thought that was the premium for getting something me'ubad lishma.
lol...and who, exactly, would want 8 wives...?
I am so glad animal rights' activists have no idea about that.
Some gelatin which is used to make lollies and ice-cream is made from cow face pieces. That means you have a person standing in the tannery cutting the faces of the cows from the hides, they remove the ears becuase these are made into dog chew treats. I hope your animal rights activists don't like ice-cream.
pcoz, according the the Pergemena website, the term is slunk, not slinks. The name they list it under is uterine calf.
In the tannery I used to work in they called them slinks
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