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When was the tradition of using the yad started? How long has this practice been in use, please?

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! Note that at least one answerer below thinks you're referring to a teacher's using a pointer when reading the Torah; I assumed you're referring to use during the synagogue Torah reading during the prayer service. Ambiguities like this are why it's better to write a fleshed out, explicit question, including explanation of any obscure terms you use. I also recommend our tour. – msh210 Jan 12 '16 at 17:43
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The earliest reference to its use is in connection with the schools of Bethar before the destruction of that place in the war of Bar Kokba (132-135).

http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15047-yad

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    That link mentions teachers in schools using them, not the person reading in public. Perhaps the OP wasn't clear and you should clarify that with her, but I had assumed she was referring to its use in public Torah reading. – user6591 Jan 12 '16 at 13:41
  • @user6591 What's the difference between using a Torah pointer when reading the Torah in a beith medrash vs. beith kneseth? Why would you assume the OP didn't want the earliest reference which could/would likely suggest its use in both? – Loewian Jan 12 '16 at 19:50
  • @Loewian there are different halachos for public reading than private. Actions in one domain do not imply a universal acceptance. As for my assumptions about the intent of the OP, the use of the word 'tradition' leads me to believe we are discussing something public and communal. – user6591 Jan 12 '16 at 20:04
  • @user6591 Technically, the teaching of the Torah in the beit medrash is unlikely to have been private. – Loewian Jan 12 '16 at 21:35
  • @Loewian there were public Torah readings that Moshe and Ezra enacted. That is what I meant by public in case you didn't understand me. It doesn't matter if it's done in the back of a basement or in a stadium. Private is any other Torah reading/learning. It doesn't matter if it's done in the back of a basement or in a stadium. – user6591 Jan 12 '16 at 22:50
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According to this (It's a Google book, on p. 154 - in case link has a problem,) the first use of the Torah pointer in Europe was in Northern Italy dating back to the 15th century.

Google book, on p. 154 References

  • @DannySchoemann I appreciate your edit. – DanF Jan 13 '16 at 14:18

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