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How to Build a Kosher Ark

We are using a portable Ark to hold our Torah Scroll that was built several years ago and which is worn out beyond repair. I am planning to build a replacement, with three other men. Can you provide guidance to ensure that the Ark we create is kosher?

The place in the Ark where the bottom of the Torah Scroll rests should be at least 10 “tefachim” high – between 30” and 40” (there are different views on the size of a “tefach”). The Ark itself should not be hung from the wall or ceiling, although there are some who permit it to hang from the wall. It should have two coverings in front; traditionally this is the doors to the Ark and a curtain in front of the doors. It is best to have the curtain open to only one side and be only one piece, as opposed to a curtain that splits into two pieces that recede to the right and left. The Ark should have some way of ensuring that the Torah cannot fall out – a place to lean the Torah on the back and a bar on floor of the compartment for the poles (Atzei Chaim) or a chain. Also, no lights (or anything electronic) should be activated when the Ark opens so that no one forgets to turn off this mechanism before Shabbos.

Let me know how it turns out!
Rabbi Yirmiyahu Benyowitz

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