The 613th Commandment: Write a Torah

Herb Horwitz, guided by Neil Yerman, writes a letter in the Torah as Iris looks on.
Herb Horwitz, guided by Neil Yerman, writes a letter in the Torah as Iris looks on.
     We had the opportunity to finish writing our own Torah on the weekend of Sept. 5-6 when scribe Neil Yerman visited.
     Dozens of congregants performed the mitzvah of completing the Torah that Yerman had repaired. The inspiring Torah scribe left a handful of letters unfinished to allow us to complete the work.
     This is now our only "kosher" Torah.
     Here is the earlier letter from the rabbi explaining the project.
     
     Dear friends,
      According to Jewish tradition, there are 613 commandments, the last of which is to write a Torah. While we are blessed, as a congregation to have six Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls), a recent check by our scribe, Neil Yerman, found that none of them was "kosher," that is, "fit" for use.
      During his visit in May, he inspected and evaluated all of the Torahs, and held a program about them in Lilienfeld House. One of the Torahs was a likely candidate for repairs to make it kosher, and was taken back to New York to be worked on.
      The repair of the Torah is complete - well, almost!!! Scribe Yerman has left the Sh'ma and the following paragraph unfinished so that each of us can have the opportunity to fulfill the Mitzvah of writing a Torah. One by one, Neil will guide our hands as we complete each letter of the Torah. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE THAT WILL BE!
      It all happens the first weekend that we are back together as a congregation, September 5th and 6th. On Friday evening we will hold our service at 6:30 p.m., during which Neil Yerman will speak briefly about the mitzvah of writing a Torah and what goes into fulfilling that mitzvah. Our new student-cantor, Marla Goldberg, will be joining us for her first service of the year. We will then have our first monthly Shabbat dinner in Lilienfeld House. You must make reservations for dinner in advance by calling (774-4312). Let's all get together and share some of our summer experiences.
      On Saturday morning, Cantor Goldberg and I will lead services, followed by Kiddush and Torah study. Later in the afternoon, around 5 p.m., Neil Yerman will speak to us again at Lilienfeld House, we will have a light snack (traditionally known as "seudah sh'lishit" - the third meal of the Sabbath) followed by Havdalah, the completing of writing the Torah and then a brief ceremony bringing the Torah back into our Ark.
      Many congregations use this opportunity as a major fund-raiser, charging people per letter or word for the honor of completing the Torah. While the cost of this repair and Mr. Yerman's transportation costs are high, there will be no charge to participate. Donations to the synagogue - another opportunity to fulfill a mitzvah - will be most welcome at any level and will be used to offset the costs of the Torah repair.
      Don't miss this fantastic opportunity, right here in St. Thomas. Mark the date, bring your friends and, by all means, include the children! Again, you must call to let us know you are coming, so we don't run out of letters!!!!!
     
     L'shalom,
     
     ARTHUR F STARR
     Rabbi