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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mashuach on the Back - Does it Make Sense to Remove it?

A Sefer Torah that is Mashuach on the Back and Peeling.
(Photo found via Google images, and appears to be from Rabbi Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel.)
It's quite common - an old Sefer Torah that is mashuach on the back, and the substance is peeling off, and perhaps covering or sticking to some letters.

It would seem to make sense to remove the substance, if possible. I was thinking along the lines of perhaps (carefully) using an electric sander combined with an air compressor to blow everything away, starting first with a medium grade sand-paper, and then finishing it with an ultra-fine grade sand-paper to give it a nice, smooth texture.

Does anyone have any experience with removing the coating, or any suggestions about how it could be done, or why it shouldn't be done?

Would it perhaps make sense to instead clear-coat the coating with various clear-coats artists use to protect their paintings, so that the coating stops peeling?

3 Questions About Taggin

I was checking an older sefer torah (probably about 60 - 80 years old) and noticed that whereas the Ksav is rather nicely written (aside from the missing Kotz Rabbeinu Tam), a significant amount of the taggin had faded. I assume the taggin were added later and with an inferior ink.

1) Upon closer inspection, it is clear that some of the taggin (mostly the left tag of the Shatnaz Gatz letters) never contacted the letters at all. When you have an entire sefer in which vast amounts of taggin were written this way, what is the best course of action to take?
Computer designed illustration
of a faded tag that misses the letter.
2) When attempting to darken light taggin, it's often difficult to be accurate. Sometimes when darkening a tag, the kulmos slightly misses the original tag. After writing the new tag, the old tag, in comparison, is not visible at all, yet clearly it must still be there. Is there any chashash that  it's a problem since the old tag was technically visible before the new tag was drawn, and perhaps the old tag is connecting two of the new taggin to each other? Or do we say that since the old one is no longer noticeable, that it's not a problem? Scratching out every tag to avoid this problem would be almost prohibitively time-consuming.
Illustration of question 2, above.
(note: if your screen is set differently than mine, you may not see the light taggin at all.)
Keep in mind that the actual ksav is much smaller, so the light taggin are essentially impossible to see after fixing.
3) When you have an entire sefer in which the taggin are mostly faded, but the Ksav is nice and clear, what is the best course of action, assuming the shul has a very limited budget for repairs?