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My son is 4 years old.
When he entered Hebrew School at the local (Reform) synagogue, they gave him a mini-torah as part of a Consecration ceremony. Specifically this one: http://www.israelbookshop.com/judaica-books/Mini-Torah-Gold.html

It's printed on regular paper but the actual text is there.

He was curious to see what was inside and he tried opening the scroll on his own, but in the process he accidentally tore the whole thing in two.

Is this as "serious" as damaging a real sefer torah?
Obviously I am not going to be able to get a 4-year-old to do any fasting, although we did sit him down and explain how he should be more careful and how holy the Torah is. And, to his credit, it was an accident caused by real curiosity.

Is it OK to repair something like this simply by scotch-taping it? Or is there another way we should get it repaired? Or should we dispose of it (and if so, what's the proper way?) and get him a new one?

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya and thanks for the interesting question. –  msh210 Mar 31 '13 at 8:59
    
Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/35651 –  msh210 Feb 20 at 3:01
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1 Answer

up vote -1 down vote accepted

Since they are together as a single scroll this poses a complex problem the Rashba brings a Teshuva regarding books of the chumash that were written separately and without being done leshem kedusha(which would in any even possul the sefer Torah from being used) part 1 chapter 144 writes

אם הם כגולל וכתקנן, הרי הם בספר תורה לכל דבריהם, אלא שאין קורין בהם בצבור, מפני כבוד הצבור בלבד.

If they are rolled and attached, behold they are a Sefer Torah in all respects, only we do not read from them in front of the congregation, and that is only on account of the honor of the congregation.

The Taz(Y"D 271:8) and the Beur Halakha aka the Chafetz Chaim(83:5) also seem to regard printed seforim, on an equal level of holiness with scribed seforim, and thus the above worries of the Rashba would apply.

From an article on Torah.org regarding printed seforim:

With the advent of the printing press in the fifteenth century, the Torah authorities of the time debated whether printed sefarim had the same level of kedushah as handwritten works. The consensus of the poskim was that a printed sefer is to be treated no differently from a handwritten one.

Further you have an interesting, even if widely rejected Teshuva by Rav Abadi that deems use of a printing press to actually be preferable to the use of scribe in writing a Sefer Torah. Which if correct would leave only the issue of it being printed on paper as a possible disqualification of being a genuine Sefer Torah.

Finally Rav Ovadia Yosef wrote a lengthy Teshuva on the issue of these gift scrolls in his journal Or Torah from Av 5762, in which he goes through the various opinions regarding how the scrolls should be treated, and whether damaging them is on the same level as damaging an actual sefer Torah. It's really worth a read if you can get hold of it. In short he goes back and forth and ends with, those who are stringent will merit a blessing, but doesn't actually settle on a final decision in that regard. Regarding what to do with however, he says clearly that it is necessary to entomb it.

In that respect, regarding whether it can be fixed, it would depend on where the rip took place. If it happned in the margin, then, like a normal Torah Scroll it could be fixed. If it tore through the words, while technically one could replace the torn panel, it would seem by and large it cannot be fixed and would have to be entombed just as an irreparable Sefer Torah.

Whether one needs to fast and such as is normal when damaging an actual Sefer Torah, again from this it would seem that such is the case, however one should ask a reliable posek.

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How did the Rashba write about a printing press? It wasn't invented yet. –  Double AA Mar 31 '13 at 1:46
    
@DoubleAA, I don't think he's saying the Rashba did (though I wonder what the Rashba is talking about here -- hand-written but not properly done?). He's applying the Rashba in light of later opinions. –  Monica Cellio Mar 31 '13 at 2:49
    
This answer is totally based on Mekubal's feelings and understanding of answers that are not necessarily applicable to this type of situation. I will Im Yirtze Hashem post a answer after Pesach is over. –  Gershon Gold Mar 31 '13 at 2:52
    
@DoubleAA The Rashba was writing about someone making writing(bli kedusha) different books of the Chumash. Then joining them together later. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Mar 31 '13 at 5:03
    
He's talking about silk screening not a printing press. And I don't see that in the Biur Halacha there, but I know the Aruch haShulchan explicitly says all printed things have the same status as each other. –  Double AA Mar 31 '13 at 5:47
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