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    An unusable Sefer Torah – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. What is done with an unusable Torah Scroll?

    old sefer torah scrollA. Some shules keep such scrolls in the Ark and carry them around on Simchat Torah. It is often not practicable to try to repair them as even if a scribe rewrites the faded or missing letters it is a long and laborious process with a risk that more letters will flake off.

    The only solution is generally to bury the unusable scroll in an earthenware vessel (Sh. Ar., Hil. Bet HaK’nesset 154:5). The vessel is used in order to delay the decomposition of the scroll.

    Rav Moshe Feinstein points out a difference between this situation and that of a human body, where delay in decomposition is not permissible (Ig’rot Moshe YD III, 143:411). The burial of the human remains allows kapparah, the atonement of the soul.

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