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Showing posts from May, 2010

Program Rewind: Difficult Books

Stanford’s Steven Zipperstein put Mein Kampf in its place during the May 6th program Difficult Books, describing it as a phenomenally boring book despite its outsized impact on world history. Surprisingly, he explained that Hitler’s autobiography–the central text of the Museum’s exhibition Our Struggle: Responding to Mein Kampf–is dramatically less popular worldwide than it’s elder cousin, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Russian manifesto describing a plan for world Jewish domination.
His prediction: In an age dominated by talk radio and Internet sound bites, The Protocols, which is written in repetitive chunks, and coyly presented as if it were a transcript of secret Jewish meetings, would continue to speak to people looking in the wrong places for answers to global complexities and chaos.


"Get Out of My Airspace!" And Other Tales From the Torah Letters…

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Thoughts from scribe-in-residence Julie Seltzer on what she's writing, her process, and the experience of writing a Torah on public view.

When I read the article in the J Weekly entitled “Leave me Alone! And Other Tales from the Torah Scribe,” I was pretty taken aback. Were my work habits so interesting to people that this reporter wanted to give them the “inside “scoop”? And where was everything I said about loving the opportunity to share Torah with people in such an unusual way? Hmmm. But, like everything else, I realized there must be some Torah here. And that’s when it hit me: "Scribe Realizes She is a Final Chaf.”
Fair enough: that title probably isn’t catchy enough for the newspaper, but that’s what blogs are for.
Allow me to explain. All letters in the Torah must be whole and unbroken (except for one purposely broken letter), and they cannot be touching each other. They must be entirely surrounded by parchment, separating them as individual letters. Letters combine with …

"What do you do when you make a mistake?"

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Thoughts from scribe-in-residence Julie Seltzer on what she's writing, her process, and the experience of writing a Torah on public view.

One of the fascinating rules of sacred writing is the principle that a letter cannot be formed by an erasure. How could a letter be formed by erasure? Funny you should ask! I ran into the very possibility just today.
Here is a picture of (what is supposed to be) the Hebrew word עד, meaning “until.” As you can see, there is an ink drip to the left of the letter dalet. Of course, I want to remove this ink drip, but I can’t just scratch it off. Here’s why. The ink drip, located as it is in relation to the dalet, resembles the left leg of the letter hey. So, what we have here is not actually a dalet with an ink drop next to it, but an accidental hey. If I simply scratch off the ink drip, I form the letter dalet by carving out part of the letter hey. This would make not only the letter, but the Torah invalid. Follow the steps below to find out what I d…