Torah Lease Program

To purchase a Sefer Torah, written or braille, is expensive and beyond the reach of most people. Blind and visually impaired people are geographically dispersed and this also causes an issue in obtaining a scroll. Devarim Institute has found a way to make a Hebrew Braille Sefer Torah available for blind and visually impaired or their synagogue. We have a program that will allow you to lease a scroll for a weekly reading.

Lease Procedure

Start with simply contacting Devarim Institute either through our email or by phone at 724-963-0789. Let us know the weekend you would like to read from the scroll. As Jewish custom assigns the torah portions by week, this will define the part of the scroll you will need. To make the lease cost as reasonable as possible we have divided the scrolls by the Five Books. As shipping is be size and weight, this will provide the cheapest cost possible. It will also require a lesser cost insurance.

Please provide the location you wish the scroll sent and who will be responsible for it at that site. You should also think about how the scroll will be stored prior to the reading. We can then confirm the cost and timing of the lease.

If you are close to Pittsburgh, you may opt to drive to pick up the scroll. The cost will be adjusted to remove the shipping cost. The overall timing will be the same.

The lease will cover a two week time frame. We ship on Monday. You receive it on Wednesday or Thursday. The scroll is used over the weekend and shipped back to us on that following Monday. We will provide a reusable shipping container and arrange for the transportaion.

After we confirm the lease agreement, we will send you a packet of information. It will contain all the shipping information as well as a copy in braille of the verses you have requested on standard braille paper. This is so you may practice what you will be reading from the scroll.

The Monday prior to the reading, we will ship the Torah to you through a standard carrier, like UPS or Federal Express. The scroll is shipped in a plastic reusable container. The container is made of a strong hard black plastic and is about 55 inches tall and 18 inches in diameter with a handle and wheels. An email will be sent to you with the combination number to the padlock on the shipping container. This container is also to be used to ship the scroll back to us. Please set the lock mechanism back on the container prior to shipping the scroll back to us. Devarim Institute will handle all shipping details and the container will have a shipping label for the return trip on the inside. The scroll needs to be shipped back on the Monday following the weekend you read from the Torah. Please reuse the foam padding to secure the scroll on the inside of the container.

The scroll will be rolled by us to the verse you have designated as the starting point of your reading. Opening the scroll is no different than a written scroll. Simply slide off the cover, set the scroll down on a lectern, remove the belt and open the scroll. We will mark the column verse starting point with a removable tag. When the reading is complete simply reverse the procedure. There is no need to twist the scroll strongly to place back on the belt or the Torah cover. Less twisting will protect against damaging the dots. Although we have not seen damage due to rolling the scrolls so far, less twisting will still offer additional protection.

As an order of magnitude the cost of a lease of the scroll is about $1000. This cost will vary based on distance for the scroll to be shipped and if there are other stipulations needed by the lessor.

Touching the Scroll

Many people believe there is a legal statute not to touch a written Sefer Torah. Actually, this is a custom not a law. The reasoning behind it, and the yad (the pointer used to read a scroll), is to not damage the written letters with the oils or dirt from your hands. Even the yad is not supposed to touch the letters but move above it.

The braille scroll is designed to be touched. We ask you to take some care in this act. Please make sure your hands, and any person who wishes to touch the scroll, are clean prior to reading or handling the braille scroll. This will help protect the scroll so as many people as possible can use what has been created.

Scroll Notes

The braille scroll is close to being identical to a written scroll.

The materials used are the same.

There are forty two lines per Torah column in both scrolls.

A written scroll generally has a width as great as forty cells. The braille scroll does as well. The written scroll is justified on both the left and right sides. The braille scroll is justified only on the left. The scribe in a written scroll will elongate or shorten the shape of a letter to create the even column. A braille cell must be consistent because of how it is read. In the braille scroll if a word on a line makes it greater than forty cells, that word is placed on the next line. No line in the Sefer Torah will have more than forty cells on any line. The total number of columns will be about the same for a written or braille scroll.

In a written scroll there are some letters that are smaller or larger than normal. If it is a small letter in the braille s croll, we have placed a full cell, dots 123456, before a letter. If it is a large letter in the written scroll, we have placed two full cells, 123456 123456, before the letter. If there is that situation in a verse you will be reading we will provide the specific location to you.

There are other anomalies within a written scroll such as spacing changes in various locations. We have maintained those customs in the braille scroll and if it exists in your portion we will make a separate notation to make you aware.

Like a written scroll there are no vowels or punctuation used with the letters.

If you have any questions please contact us and we will clarify.