Object of the Month - February - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Object of the Month - February

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February 2019

Tik (Torah Case) Iraq, 1916 Chased silver on wood, 22 h. x 10 ½ dia. In Inscription: The supervisors of the Sefer Torah may take it to other places…


Great reverence is given to the Torah, or Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, composed of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Torah contains ritual and moral laws that guide the lives of Jews everywhere.

The Torah occupies the most honored place in Jewish liturgy and is the central element of the worship service. The scroll is handwritten on parchment by a scribe who receives extensive training and is bound by a set of strict rules. There is no punctuation, decoration, or illumination, and its calligraphy has remained unchanged for centuries. The pieces of parchment are sewn together and attached to two wooden rollers. The Torah is taken from the ark, a place of honor, and read during services on the Sabbath (Saturday), Monday, Thursday, and major festivals. The entire Torah is read over the course of one calendar year, according to set weekly portions.

Torah ornaments are created as a fulfillment of God’s commandment in the book of Exodus to beautify ritual objects. The tik, or Torah case, is an object of artistic ornamentation designed to emphasize respect for the Torah. In addition, the tik protects the Torah scroll and serves as a portable ark. Originating in Iraq during the tenth century, it is associated with Sephardic communities, namely those Jewish communities in North Africa, Turkey, Spain, and the Middle East. This example features a rhythmic floral pattern and has a crownlike rim set with forty-eight beads.