Megillat Esther from Persia; The Tension Between Restoration and Conservation… and Halachic Frontier
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Six weeks ago, I went to the office of a client, (who happens to be an Israeli government official), to take a look at his old Megillat Esther and to assess its proposed repair work. The gentleman handed me this Megillah scroll wrapped in a Persian cloth that seemed as old as the scroll itself.
The gentleman told me that this Megillah was brought to Israel by his grandfather upon his Allyiah from Persia. The exact origins, however, were unknown. He also told me that he brought the Megillah to 3 other scribes for repair, but they all refused to touch it and declared that it cannot be fixed. There were many segments of text, even whole columns of this Megillah where the ink was totally removed.
In Halacha, the legal codes regarding Torah and Megillah scrolls, there is a derogatory term for scrolls that are not uniform in ink-tone, “menumar.” The word “namer” is leopard, and a leopard-skin, spotty-ink coloration is not considered esthetically pleasing or honorable to our sacred scrolls. Esthetics is a component of the law as well as a factor in the field of restoration.
If I did not succeed in matching the script of the Persian scribe, then the result would be a Megillah full of “spotty” eyesores too. Also, in many places, the cracked-ink lettering was so dry that the risk of pulling off more ink from the Megillah when attempting to place ink to restore the Megillah’s lettering was quite high. All this added to the challenge of restoring this old Megillat Esther from Persia.
Story and images by Jamie Shear.