As a "seasoned" Torah reader, I've become interested in some aspects of Safrut.

Our shul has existed for many decades, and we have accumulated many Sifrei Torah. We recently had a sofer evaluate which scrolls can be repaired. Of the approximately 20 scrolls, the sofer said that only 6 can be repaired. The others are too brittle and the ink fades quickly. Thus, the sofer evaluated that it would be too costly to repair them as the letters would fade or crack quickly.

Apparently, there are certain characteristics of the parchment and, perhaps, the ink used that allows some Sifrei Torah to last almost indefinitely, while others can't. Can someone explain to me:

  • What are some of the qualities in the parchment that would have a Torah last for many years without becoming brittle? What would the typical lifespan of such a Torah be?
  • Are there any similar factors / qualities in the ink used? Is any type of ink considered better quality than another?
  • When one purchases a new Torah, what can one do to preserve the Torah so that the letters are less subject to fading? I've heard that high humidity can damage the parchment. Anything else one should (not) do?
  • To be clear this is about physical qualities, not halakhic preferences like "chumras" or "hiddurim"? – Double AA Aug 30 '17 at 15:33
  • @DoubleAA Correct. I am addressing the physical parchment qualities. We want to have the Torah last as long as possible and be usable, not specifically looking the nicest. – DanF Aug 30 '17 at 15:37
  • "not specifically looking the nicest" I wasn't talking about niceness, but halakhic preference for minority opinions and things like that. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 17:51
  • @DoubleAA Got it. I'd like to know the minimal specs that would make a Torah last an "average" lifespan. In the question, I've asked what that quantity is, as I don't really know the number, if, in fact, there is one. Adding info about hiddurim would be additional interesting info, but it's not my main focus. – DanF Oct 19 '17 at 18:03
  • You could use oil-soot ink (AKA Rambam ink), and it will never fade ever, but it is significantly more likely to smudge, especially with humidity. So not a perfect solution. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 18:09

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