Monday, March 06, 2006

289. Letter

Yesterday a sofer, a Torah scribe, visited my synagogue and wrote--with all our help--part of the new scroll that will be ours in May. I got to stand behind him and hold his arm as he filled in the outlines of a kof, the first letter of the word kodkod, "head," from Deut. 33:20 in V'zot HaBerachah, the last parasha of the Torah.

It took just a few seconds. I watched the ink shine and then flow down a small river insider the top curve of the letter, which looked like part of a link connecting me to the rest of the Jewish people, and then all over again within the long bottom bar that falls below the line. Thank goodness it's not a little tiny yud, I thought--I get to feel the quill gliding across the parchment twice! So now I'm part of those words. Every Simchat Torah, the rabbi reads that section and all present receive an aliyah--so I will surely visit that very same letter once a year as I stand over his shoulder and peer at the scroll. And long after the rabbi and I and everyone else move on to somewhere else in the universe, if the world and its holy objects are allowed to survive, many more generations will also see that letter. How will they interpret it? How will it sound when they chant? Maybe much like we do but also different, enriched by the beauty and complexity of their own lives. In those few seconds I planted a little of myself in the future.

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