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The Accessories

The Accessories

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The Atzei Chayim

(Hebrew, pl., trees of life; sing., aitz chayim) The atzei chayim are the two wooden shafts attached to either end of the Torah scroll, around which it is rolled. Each shaft is made long enough to extend beyond the top and bottom of the scroll, and is used as a handle with which to hold the Torah scroll and to scroll from portion to portion.

The Gartel

(Yiddish, belt) The gartel is the sash used to tie the Torah scroll so that the Torah remains closed and secured under its velvet covering. When a Torah scroll is found to be non-kosher (e.g., a letter has faded) and awaits correction, its gartel is tied around its velvet covering, on the outside, as an ostensible reminder that it is out of commission.

The Mantel

(Yiddish, cloak) A valuable treasure is not left exposed and vulnerable. We cover the Torah scroll with multiple coverings, dressing it in a "cloak" before restoring it to its honorable place in the Ark and drawing the curtain. The mantel is an ornate covering that both protects and beautifies the Torah scroll, typically made of velvet and embroidered with golden thread, silk, and ornamental beads.

The Keter

(Hebrew, crown) The Torah is our most precious possession, and we lovingly display that. We adorn it with a crown, typically silver, as a symbol of our endearment and veneration. The keter rests on the wooden shafts, which extend above the scroll.

The Yad

(Hebrew, hand) The yad is the pointer that the reader of the Torah uses to help others follow the written words as he reads. Usually made of silver, the end of this rod is commonly shaped like a hand with its index finger extended. A chain attached to its other end can be used to drape it over the Torah scroll when put away.

Text courtesy of Torah Online, a project of Chabad of California
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