P. R. Kliman
Torah Scroll Column Reference Guide
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What is your book about?
Published by Mosaica Press, and printed in Israel, my book helps new Gabbais and Rabbis, Bar/Bat Mitzvah students, and occasional participants in the Torah Service become skillful in locating specific columns and verses within the Torah and become comfortable with its layout. On Mondays, Thursdays, Shabbats and on Jewish Holidays, Synagogues around the world read a designated portion of the Pentateuch from a Torah Scroll. The scroll is hand-written in Hebrew, and contains the Biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The order of which section, or Parashah, is read is more than 2,400 years old, and has been passed down to us from Ezra the Scribe. Expert readers, called Baal Korei, can easily navigate the scroll. New or infrequent Torah leiners not so easily. This book puts in writing what an experience Baal Korei instinctively knows. Each of the 245 columns of the scroll are sorted alphabetically, based on the beginning words found on Line 1 of each column. If the scroll is rolled to an “unknown location”, the reader simply reads the first few words from Line 1 and looks them up in the Reference Guide. The reader quickly identifies the contents of the current column and can navigate to the desired column for the day’s reading. The Torah Scroll Column Reference Guide can also be used in the classroom, with a Tikkun Kor’im. The Tikkun is a book that is formatted like the scroll, and helps readers prepare for their public reading. Educators can challenge students to become comfortable locating an upcoming Aliyah from an “unknown column”.
What inspired you to write your book?
It was a joy to take my Information Technology career experience and combine it with my love of being a life-long student. It always bothered me when the Torah Scroll was rolled to an “unexpected column” during a Synagogue service, and only the experienced, senior Baal Korei could figure out where they were and how to recover. Everyone else was so tense. One day, I had an ah-ha moment. What if – the first line of each column was simply sorted alphabetically, and the first few unique words on Line 1 were highlighted (non-techie terms to describe creating an Index field to an entry in a database). Then, sort those entries alphabetically. This created the “Where am I?” section of the book. Additional sections are the “Where is my Parashah?”, “Torah Scroll Column Locations for Selected Yom Tov Readings” and “Torah Scroll Columns Containing Selected Daily and Shabbat Readings”.
If you have a business related to your book, tell us about it:
I have a business called “Ahavat Ivrit LLC”. Please contact me on LinkedIn for more information.
What is a typical day like for you?
Family, friends, personal study, cooking, exercise, and anything creative are the cornerstone of each day. For my writing, I have an executive office that I work from Monday through Friday afternoon. Since my first book has launched – I have a three-fold approach to my workday. Daily study is the foundation, then equal amounts of book launch activities and writing for future books.
What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Daily, I get to study and to do analysis using Biblical text, and produce work that can benefit others.
What are some favorite books you’d recommend to our readers?
“Tikkun Korim Hamefoar Tikun for Reading the Torah with Instructions and Laws in Hebrew and English” by Abraham B. Walzer “A Guide to Jewish Prayer” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz OB”M.
What advice do you have to offer our readers?
Be a life-long learner. Proactively learn new things every day. Allow your learning to be a combination of structured study, and unstructured learning from all the people and situations around you.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am an ambivert. I’m equally and strongly both Extraverted and Introverted. I’m energized by talking and brainstorming with anyone who is knowledgeable and passionate, and I love speaking in front of groups. I’m equally energized by six hours of solitary study and work.
What’s next for you?
Just as there are standards and protocols in Technology (think of 4G and 5G telecommunications standards), there are standards for Torah Scrolls. Some standards are absolutes, based in Halacha, Jewish Law. Other standards are formatting conventions embraced by a community. One area of discretionary standards are the number of columns for the scroll. The Torah Scroll Column Reference Guide uses the frequently encountered modern standard of 245 Columns / 42 Lines. I’m working on a new book that will be support the emerging standard of 248 Columns / 42 Lines.