Mitzvah 613

A few years ago, I spent Simchat Torah with a small Reform congregation in England, and I was given the honor of the last aliyah of the old cycle of reading the Torah.

Yesterday, I (and the rest of my family) had the chance to perform the 613th mitzvah — the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll).

Not by ourselves, of course — Congregation Shir Hadash has commissioned a new Torah scroll in honor of the congregation’s 25th anniversary — and every family in the congregation will have the opportunity to write a letter in the Torah scroll over the next few months. The writing began Saturday night with a celebration (including a truly decadent chocolate fountain!). Our turn to write a letter came on Sunday morning.

Since the Torah must be written absolutely correctly, we didn’t actually get to drive the quill; instead, we held onto the quill while the scribe filled in the letter, which he had already outlined.

Writing our letter: We're writing our letter Our letter is the yud in ha-sh’mayim (heavens) — it’s the leftmost filled-in letter below:

Torah in progress: This is Shir Hadash's new Torah right after we wrote our letter (the yud in \"ha-sh'mayim") Our letter is at the very beginning of the Torah, in Parashat Bereshit . I’ve never actually read from the Torah scroll, but when I do, I know what portion I want to read.