Obj. ID: 37129
Sacred and Ritual Objects Torah finials, Algiers, 1899
The following description was prepared by William Gross:
The finials evolved from knobs at the upper end of the staves (Atzei Chaim) on which the Torah scroll is wound. Since the shape of the spherical finial recalled that of a fruit, it was called a tappu'aḥ, "apple," among the Jews of Spain and in the Sephardi Diaspora, and a rimmon, "pomegranate," in all other communities.
The earliest known reference to Torah finials occurs in a document from 1159, found in the Cairo Genizah, from which we learn that by the 12th-century finials were already being made of silver and had bells. Around the same time, Maimonides mentions finials in the Mishneh Torah (Hilkhot Sefer Torah 10:4). Despite the variations on the spherical shape which developed over the centuries and the addition of small bells around the main body of the finial, the spherical, fruit-like form was the basic model for the design of finials in Oriental and European communities.
A most significant variation appeared in 15th-century Spain, Italy, and Germany, where the shape of finials was influenced by that of various objects of church ritual, whose design often incorporated architectural motifs, The resulting tower-like structure, which seems to have appeared around the same time in different parts of Europe, became the main type of finial in 18th-century Germany and Italy, as well as Morocco, brought there by Jews expelled from Spain.
Noting that the original name of Rimmonim in Sephardi areas was Tabuach, apple, this pair is the expression of that with four round shapes suitable to the name. An unusually long inscription decorates these Rimmonim made in Algiers around the turn of the 19th century. An almost identical pair existed in the Cymbalista collection and is documented in the catalog of that collection as presented at the Cymbalista Center at Tel Aviv University.
Upper Sections: "Dedicated unto the Lord. Donation of the woman Marara(?), Blessed among women, daughter of the Rabbi,m the honorable R. Moshe Sellam, in honor of the good name, Dawud son to Yitzhak son of Dawud Choudroun, May his Rock protect him and sustain him. So mait be his will. And .... for the repose of the soul of Yitzhak son of Dawud, May he live......, Choukroun, May his rest be eternal, May his soul be bound up in the bundle of life. And for the repose of the soul of Moshe son of Sellam, May his rest be eternal."
Rimmon B: Upper Sections: "And for the repose of the soul of the Woman Ma'eir(?), wife of Moshe son of Dawud Sellam. These, the Torah Finials, were made to embellish with the Torah Scroll, by a distinguished artisan, engraved, ornamented and gilded. A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate...on...(?)"
On Stems: "On 'For thereby you shall have life and shall long endure upon the soil' in the month of Elul, which stimulates repentance, the year 5659 of the reckoning of creation"
Note: The dating "For thereby......" is from the last verse of the weekly portion for the last week of the Jewish year, called "Nitzavim" (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20. Thus, these Torah Finials were dedicated on the Sabbath, Elul 27, 5659 == Saturday, September 2, 1898.
Note also that both stems have been resoldered to the bodies, during which repair the ends of the line of the script were somewhat damaged.
O | Ornamentation: | Ornament
B | Bell