Give My Yad a Hand – Technology Meets Tradition

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Give My Yad a Hand - Technology Meets Tradition Listen to this article
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A yad cast from brass.

That great source of Jewish knowledge Wikipedia describes a yad (literally “hand”) as “a Jewish ritual pointer, popularly known as a Torah pointer, used by the reader to follow the text during the Torah reading from the parchment Torah scrolls. Yads can be made from silver, wood or any material. Mine, however, is something Moses could never have imagined.

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The silver yad my Aunt Harriet gave me as a gift when I was ordained 21 years ago.

Since the Hebrew of the Torah has no vowels or punctuation, the yad allows the reader to track from line to line more easily. In addition, the yad prevents the reader from touching the parchment while reading. This is important since the parchment is often rather fragile (some of our Torah scrolls are hundreds of years old), and oil from fingers can damage the ink over time. The yad prevents all of this and has, over time, become a mainstay ritual item during worship.

As previously noted, there is no set requirement with regard to the materials used to make a yad or its design. Still, since the word means “hand”, yads often look like their namesake, albeit made from silver, wood, brass etc.

A few weeks ago, I asked my friend Michael to see if his father-in-law Steve would make me a rather unusual yad. You see, Michael’s father-in-law has a Makerbot 3D Printer and has created all kinds of cool stuff. I asked if he might use it to make me one. He did… and here is a yad fit for the 21st century.

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My new Makerbot-printed yad.

Some yads are carved from wood. Others are cast from metal. Mine was… printed.

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Old tradition meets new technology.


Want to check out Steve Medwin’s other products? Click here to see what else he has “printed”.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.