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Silver Yad


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What can we see?

We can see a silver pointer, divided into two sections. Embellished with images of nature, such as leaves, animals and birds.

Look closely, what do you see?

What do we know?

The word ‘Yad’, in Hebrew means hand, which also reflects the use of the object. The pointer is used by the reader to indicate their place during a reading of the Torah (Jewish scriptures), which happens during prayer, or on holy days such as Sukkot. The yad can take on many different artistic designs, and is both very useful and very important when practising Judaism.

The Torah itself is hand written (traditionally on parchment – stretched animal skin) by a sofer using a quill and ink. It takes seven to ten years for a sofer to be ready to write a Torah, taking an additional two to three years for the writing of a Torah to be completed. The Torah is so sacred in Judaism it cannot be touched. This is why a yad is used, not only to keep a person’s place when reading, but also so the person reading the Torah does not touch it.

This Yad is from Germany, sold to the museum in 1967 from the Franklin collection, and has also been housed in two other collections, prior to its sale.

What do wonder?

We might wonder who owned this yad. We might wonder who used this Yad. We might wonder who chose and designed it.

What do you wonder?

Object File

Object name: Silver gilt pointer

Date: Late 17th Century

Catalogue number: JM 152

Material(s): Silver

On display at the museum: No

Physically we can see that the shaft of the Yad is divided into two sections decorated with basket work with large ornamental knobs engraved with sections of leaves and branches. The cuff of the hand is decorated in the same way. The part at the top end of the object is pierced and also decorated with leaves and foliage, as well as with animals and birds.

The natural imagery on the yad could be linked with the festival of Sukkot and the reading of the Torah during this time. Sukkot is a celebration of the Jewish Harvest. This is a time where Jewish people construct a Sukkah, a three walled, open roofed tent, decorated with vines, leaves and branches; and is a time of remembrance of when the Jews wandered the desert for 40 years after being freed from slavery in Egypt and when they received the ten commandments.

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