It is unusual for me to notice things that have changed. People change their hair, I don’t notice. My wife rearranges the house, and I don’t notice. Jon (My coworker for the last 15 years) has even had half a taco on his shirt, and I didn’t notice.
But today as I entered the house, my eyes immediately saw the parchment tube standing in the hallway. I said, “I’ve got parchment.” I must say that real sofers do not use the word parchment, unless perhaps they are goyim. A true sofer will use the word qlaf קלְף.
A year ago, I didn’t know what parchment, I mean umm… qlaf, was. I knew it was a type of “paper”, but somehow I thought it wasn’t much different from papyrus (raise your hand if you know what papyrus is- hint: it’s not parchment, I mean qlaf). I’m not sure what I thought the difference was, but whatever I thought, I now know that I was wrong.
Parchment is thin leather that has been sanded, on the outer surface, into a smooth almost paper like finish.
My qlaf was sheep skin, measuring 25”X19” and in calligraphy finish. The texture is very smooth as you can see in this image. I don’t know much about the finishes except that the company I purchased from, Pergamena, has three grades:
- No Finish
I will take the time to point out at this point that my qlaf is not kosher. I will tell a story about this when I talk about the ink. For now, understand that I tried to get Kosher supplies in the past.
To be honest, though kosher or not kosher is the least of my dilemmas. I’m vegetarian, almost totally vegan, I do not kill things, and yet an animal had to die to provide the foundation on which I hang the letters.
I am also a environmentalist and so, I have looked at the impact that the meat industry has had on this planet and know that it is not good. I also know that leather and thus my qlaf are a by product of the meat industry.
My desire to be as authentic as possible, is in this case, causing me to make a decision that I would not normally make.
I have often said, that “a person is more defined by their inconsistencies than there consistencies”. This task is one of those things in my life that is inconsistent. I do not like the struggle that brought me to this decision, but when I saw the beauty of the symbolism. I had to do it this way, and tell others about it.
In ancient Israel an animal had to die to atone for sin. This animal in a very real way pointed out that we are mortal and that “Wages of sin is death”.
The lamb slain from the foundations of the world is the structure upon which יהוה chose to display his words. That the Machiach would die in my place is a marvel, but that he would also choose to write his words in this hard stone like flesh of my heart takes it to an even higher plane.
Baruk HaShem יהוה
Here is another inconsistency, I could not figure out how to cut the qlaf without using steel, so I decided to use the paper cutter at work.