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Obj. ID: 556
Sacred and Ritual Objects
  Torah case, Libya, 1890

© Center for Jewish Art, Photographer: Radovan, Zev, 01.90

The wooden Torah^case consists of a ten-faceted body and a coronet.

The case opens in the centre on the front facet, forming two halves joined at the back by a steady facet.

The body comprises ten facets and is encircled, at its lower edge, by two wooden stepped strips, creating a frieze. Eleven knobs for hanging the wrapper encircle the upper edges.

The body is made of plain wood. The front facet is adorned with a silver ogee arched plaque, divided into two vertical halves, adjusted to the case's opening. Its upper part is decorated with a foliate pattern, while the lower is inscribed with an identical dedication set within twin horse-shoe arches. The inscription engraved in square Hebrew letters, reads:

 

וזאת/ התורה/ הטהורה/ ווי עמדים כשורה/ אשר פעל ועשה/ היקר החשוב הר' (הרב)/יעקב ג'נאח הי"ו (ה' ישמרהו ויחיהו) בן/ אליהו נ"ע (נוחו עדן) נגמרא/ מלאכתו בחדש זיו/ המקדש, שנת תר"ן."

"And this is the pure Torah (written) in a form of the hooks of the pillars (Ex. 27:10; see: Remarks: no. 1) set in a row, which was (made by the one) who operated and done, the dear and important Rabbi Jacob Ganah, may the Lord sustain and protect him, son of Elijah may he rest in Eden. It was accomplished in the month of Ziv (based on I Kings 6:37; when) the Temple (was accomplished), the year (5)650 (April- May, 1890)."

A silver hook and clasp set on floral circlets are attached on both sides of the opening.

The coronet is composed of ten units, which continue the body's facets (fig. 1). Each unit is designed as a twin arch divided by a column with a palmate crest, forming a symmetrical pattern. The arch encloses a tulip surmounting a drop-shaped motif.

The inner face of the Torah case is plain wood (fig. 1). Each half has a double shelf at its bottom and top. The bottom is blocked by a board with a rectangular hand holder for elevating the Torah, while the top is blocked with an open-work of rhomboids and circles.

Two holes for inserting the Torah staves are pierced in the bottom and the top.

16 image(s)

sub-set tree:

Name/Title
Tik | Unknown
Object Detail
Date
1890 (inscription)
Synagogue active dates
Reconstruction dates
Artist/ Maker
Unknown (Unknown)
Origin
Libya
| Tunisia? Tripolitania?
Historical Origin
Unknown
Community type
Congregation
Location
Unknown |
Site
Unknown
School/Style
Unknown| Tunisian, Libyan
Period Detail
Collection
Documentation / Research project
Unknown
Material/Technique
Wood, silver
Material Stucture
sawed, carved, lathed (knobs)
Material Decoration
carved
Material Bonding
nailed, hinged, glued
Material Inscription
ink on parchment
Material Additions
Material Cloth
Material Lining
Tesserae Arrangement
Density
Colors
Construction material
Measurements
Height
750 mm (general), 614 mm (body), 136 mm (coronet)
Length
Width
Width: 295 mm (body)
Depth
Circumference
Thickness
Diameter
Weight
Axis
Panel Measurements
Iconographical Subject
R | Rosette
|
Condition
• The clasps of the Torah case are missing. • The facet which bears the hinges is new.
Extant
Documented by CJA
Surveyed by CJA
Present Usage
Present Usage Details
Condition of Building Fabric
Architectural Significance type
Historical significance: Event/Period
Historical significance: Collective Memory/Folklore
Historical significance: Person
Architectural Significance: Style
Architectural Significance: Artistic Decoration
Urban significance
Significance Rating
Languages of inscription
Unknown
Type of grave
Unknown
0
Ornamentation
Custom
Contents
Codicology
Scribes
Script
Number of Lines
Ruling
Pricking
Quires
Catchwords
Hebrew Numeration
Blank Leaves
Direction/Location
Façade (main)
Endivances
Location of Torah Ark
Location of Apse
Location of Niche
Location of Reader's Desk
Location of Platform
Temp: Architecture Axis
Arrangement of Seats
Location of Women's Section
Direction Prayer
Direction Toward Jerusalem
Coin
Coin Series
Coin Ruler
Coin Year
Denomination
Signature
Colophon
Scribal Notes
Watermark
Hallmark
Group
Group
Group
Group
Group
Trade Mark
Binding
Decoration Program
Summary and Remarks

1.   The dedication compares the Torah scroll to the Tabernacle in the desert and to Solomon's Temple. The inscription indicates that the dedicated Torah was written in a special layout, in which each of the written columns begins with the letter vav, and thus it is named Vavei Amudim, namely "the hooks of the pillars". The word vav in Hebrew has a double meaning; it is the sixth letter of the alphabet, and a hook. The term Vavei Amudim mentioned in the dedicatory inscription alludes to the structure of the Torah scroll as a representative of the hooks and columns which constructed the tent of the Tabernacle in the Desert. This layout tradition finds its origins in the 11th century in Eastern manuscripts (Sternthal, Humash Regensburg, 2008, pp. 8- 11, note. 22). It probably reflects a similar approach which compares the Torah (scroll or codex) to the Temple, naming it Mikdashiyah, namely "A Small Temple" or "The Lord's Temple". This was the prevalent name of Torah codex among the Karaites in the 10th century Egypt, and later among the Sephardi Jews in Spain (XXX). During the years the Vavei Amudim layout gained cabalistic interpretations and it may well be that the widespread tradition in Tunisia and Tripolitania, is derived from its cabalistic insinuations. Though a further research should be conducted, weather it also reflects an old tradition, which continues the eastern layout.  

An additional allusion to the Temple is created by using the name Ziv for the month of Iyar, connecting between the date the Torah scroll and its case were accomplished, and the month when Solomon's Temple was founded: "In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month Ziv: (I Kings 6:37).

The beginning of the dedication is a familiar linguistic formula and is frequently inscribed on dedications of Torah cases.

Suggested Reconsdivuction
History/Provenance
Main Surveys & Excavations
Bibliography
• Sternthal, Michal. Humash Regensburg, IM 180/52, Vol. I. Jerusalem: Dissertation for Master Degree, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2008. In Hebrew. • Yaniv, Bracha. The Torah Case: Its History and Design. Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan University Press and the Ben Zvi Institute, 1997. In Hebrew.
Short Name
Full Name
Volume
Page
Type
Documenter
Vivian Stern; Susan Freiman | 01.90
Author of description
Ariella Amar | 03.11
Architectural Drawings
|
Computer Reconstruction
|
Section Head
Ariella Amar | 01.90;03.11
Language Editor
Dvora Sax | 07.11
Donor
|
Negative/Photo. No.