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Our shul has about 15 unusable Torah scrolls. (To place it in a positive light, we have 6 that are usable. The shul has been in existence for 90 years, and we retrieved a number of "Holocaust" scrolls that were donated by some former members.) A sofer evaluated all of them and said that either they are completely unrepairable, or the cost to repair them exceeds the cost of buying a new one. Our shul cannot afford to buy a new one. So, all these scrolls sit in the ark, unused for years, or lay in closets or on tables covered by tallitot.

I'm curious if shuls, in general have sold these unusable scrolls to sofrim. Isn't there some need where sofrim can take some of the usable portions from these scrolls and create a new one, or cut out sections or perhaps, even certain words to patch other Torah scrolls? I understand that a Torah cannot be "downgraded"- i.e., one can't excerpt the sections of the "Shema" and use it for a mezuzah or tefillin.

Would anyone know or have some idea what can be done with such unusable scrolls other than just leaving them around or burying them? I gather that our shul is not unique in facing this situation.

  • Give them to a museum? What's wrong with just burying them? – Double AA Oct 23 '17 at 20:17
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    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/29967/759 – Double AA Oct 23 '17 at 20:18
  • @DoubleAA Thanks for the related question. I see that one of those answers has a related link that may be useful. I also need to read your ref to Igeret Moshe. Basically, the shul needs some funds. So, if there's a way to sell these sifrei Torah, that would be ideal. – DanF Oct 23 '17 at 20:31
  • There was an interesting question, which was ignored in the answers. Is it possible to "recycle" scrolls by using the correct parts and burying the rest? Is it considered מנומר? – Kazi bácsi Oct 24 '17 at 12:52
  • Often people lend Torah scrolls to synagogues indefinitely rather than donating. It may be worth checking whether that's true of any of these, as then you'd presumably have to return the scroll to the owner. – msh210 Oct 24 '17 at 16:02
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One local-to-me synagogue has one in a display case where people can see it and read whatever portion it's currently open to, like in a museum but it's in their lobby. Another local synagogue is considering lending out such a scroll to congregants (using a portable ark), one family at a time. In both cases the goal is to make the scroll a little more available to people who might never be able to read from it or have an aliyah, and maybe to reinforce lo bashamayim hi a little bit.

If a scroll has specific significance, there might be museums that would be interested. Perhaps there are even congregants for whom a particular scroll is significant, like maybe their family helped donate it or it came from a synagogue they were part of before a merger or it's from their home town in Europe. Do make sure that any recipients understand the status of the scroll, and that recipients will treat it respectfully.

  • Re 2nd & 3rd sentence - of what use is a pasul Torah to another shul or family? They cannot receive aliyot from it. – DanF Oct 24 '17 at 13:59
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    @DanF it's not for aliyot (or other ritual purposes); it's for education. – Monica Cellio Oct 24 '17 at 14:11
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If the Sefer Torah is not kosher then you burying it and according to the tradition you should put those Torah Scrolls in to the Pot made of clay (Yirmiyahu 32:14), you also say Rabbi's Kaddish and burying the scrolls

There is no other way, this is the proper way, you burying them. Selling those scrolls is not a good idea.

They can be displayed in the museum or you may donate those that can be repaired to someone who will do it. I know many people who rescue Torah Scroll that are really damaged and most of the time Sofer just says that repairing is not possible. Sometimes it is not possible and may cost huge money but ther are people who will still try to save the scroll, pay for reparation regardless the costs. I would for example take any of scrolls that was from Poland. I was born in Poland, there is not many of us Polish Jews left and we like to keep what was from Poland close and save as much as possible !

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    I agree. Selling the scrolls could result in them falling in the wrong hands, like J4J or worse (if such a thing is possible). – ezra Oct 24 '17 at 3:18
  • @ezra I mentioned selling them to sofrim or reliable Jews who know how to handle it, respectfully. Of course, thieves abound everywhere, and, sadly, as you know, many of them are not J4J. So, there' s no guarantee. But, unlikely, that if a sofer buys it, he will resell it to one of these guys. – DanF Oct 24 '17 at 14:02
  • Eliyahu - Your personal opinion - why would you keep a Torah that you couldn't read from in a congregation. I understand the museum concept, as it is useful for public display and history. But, I don't quite understand keeping it, personally. – DanF Oct 24 '17 at 14:04
  • You don;t have to keep them, you burying them, that's the procedure. I bet that most of them can be repaired, some may be more difficult than other but I've seen some repairs that you would not believe. Yes it cost bag of gold :) I'll take one scroll if you don't need it. – Eliyahu Yosef P Oct 25 '17 at 1:12
  • @EliyahuYosefP "I'll take one scroll if you don't need it". I think you were "joking" somewhat by that comment. But, if you are an inkling serious, let me know, and perhaps, we can get you one if you or someone you know will make good use of it. I'll see if we can arrange something. – DanF Apr 12 at 21:41

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