8 Torah pointer
Óbuda, 1836 (Master’s mark), 1837 (inscription)
From the collection of the Jewish Museum of Óbuda, 1950
According to the tradition, it is disrespectful to touch the torah scroll or the letters on
it by hand during the reading. In the middle ages, the parchment was covered with a piece of fabric, which also served to follow the lines. There are data from the 16th century regarding the usage of Torah pointers. The most widespread shape is a right hand with a pointing index finger, which is made of metal, wood or bone, or even of glass or plastic these days. The traditional name is yad, which is the Hebrew word for hand. In Europe, Jews were not allowed to work with precious metals because of discriminatory legislation so Jewish ceremonial objects were typically made by non-Jewish masters. However, the Jewish community of Óbuda was an exception: some Jewish goldsmiths, like Fülöp Adler, had special permission to work so he could make a torah pointer decorated with inscriptions in 1837 for the order of the Association for Spiritual Salvation. On the four sides of the handle the names of the leaders of the Association can be read which gives us hints as to the places of origin of their families. The Beer Boskovitz family most probably came from the Moravian community of Boskovice, while Koppel Vacener and Wolf Zsámbék might have come from other Hungarian communities.
The torah pointer was first exhibited in 1935 in the Museum of Applied Arts at the exhibition ’Applied Art in Old Buda and Pest’.