Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Where Do Torahs Come From? Part II

Continued from yesterday's post on the art of making a quill from turkey feathers:

The back end of the quill is then cut off, shortening the quill.

Dead cells and tissue are removed from the quill.

The end of the quill is then scored down the middle.

Using a razor blade to widen the cut.

This cut will hold the ink.

A notch is shaved into the end of the quill.

And the end is cut off.
Voiola, the quill is complete. And now to start writing. Bet. Practice bets. Other practice letters. The quills.


Yaakova said...

I'm a calligrapher, so these posts are quite interesting to me. Why is it important to use natural fibers such as quills, rather than metal nibs? It's clearly much more demanding than using metal, so there must be a good reason. (Though using metal nibs is no cake walk either, truth be told..)

Evan said...

I can't tell you the halachah off hand, since it's not something I've learned yet. However, I can say that we do not use metal scissors for cutting tzitzit (the little fringes sticking out of my pants.) Also, metal tools were not used in building the beit hamikdash, the holy temple. This is because metal is associated with weapons and warfare, which would be inappropriate to mix with something as holy as the Torah. Not to say that Judaism is anti-war, just that we keep these things separate, like milk and meat.

Torah Scribe said...

In my opinion we use quills because they simply give the best results when prepared properly. The sensitive, and flexible quill is perfectly suited to the velvet-like texture of the parchment. Its firm enough to create a sort of furrow in which to lay the ink, but not so stiff or sharp as to cut into the parchment. Also, a trained scribe can write significantly more quickly with a quill than is possible with a metal pen because a quill requires only the lightest touch. If that's not enough, we write with quills because that has been the custom among Ashkenaz Jews since at least the 6th century CE.