54 Torah shield


Franz Lorenz Turinsky

Vienna, 1807

silver partially gold plated, embossed

deposit of the Budapest Jewish Community, 1931

The shape of the Torah Shields and their iconographic elements too, often follow patterns appearing on items that are used by non-Jews. Torah shields resembling the form of noble coats of arms adorned by a baldachin are typical of Austria-Hungary. There are two figures on the two sides of the stone tablets, Moses on the right and Aaron on the left, with their usual attributes. Due to the strict interpretation of the second commandment which prohibits human representation, the question was raised whether it is permitted to use a Torah shield with such decoration. In a rabbinical responsum in 1810 in respect of a similar Torah shield, one of the most prestigious rabbis of the era, Moses Schreiber, aka Chatam Sofer, argued that the characters of Moses and Aaron may indeed appear on a Torah shield, since their figures are so well-known that nobody would think of them as objects of idolatry. The Torah shield was used in the Dohány StreetySynagogue and it was deposited to the collection of the Jewish Museum in the 1930s.