The world’s oldest complete Sefer Torah, believed to have been written between the years 1155 and 1225, was discovered about six weeks ago in the library of the University of Bologna, Italy, by Professor Mauro Perani.
Shturem.net reports that Rabbi Aharon Chitrik of Crown Heights contacted Professor Perani and asked him to send him a picture of a certain passage in Parshas Ki Teitzei.
The passage in question is the source of much disagreement between several streams of Judaism. Most notably, between those who follow the Alter Rebbe, and those who follow Vilna Gaon.
In Devarim, Chapter 23, The Posuk says: לֹא-יָבֹא פְצוּעַ-דַּכָּא. According to the Alter Rebbe, the word “Dako” ends with an Alef, while the Vilna Gaon maintained that the word ends with a “Hei.”
Until this very day, the Chabad community’s Sifrei Torah are written with an Alef at the end of the word, while those of most other Ashkenazic communities are spelled with a Hei.
In Hayom Yom, the Rebbe quotes the Frierdiker Rebbe:
In Prague there is a Torah scroll which – according to local tradition – had been examined and emended by Ezra the Scribe. It is read only on Simchat Torah and is always rolled to the portion of sh’ma. When I was in Prague in 5668 (1908) I saw that scroll, and in it daka is spelled with an alef. So too when I was in Worms in 5667 (1907), I saw a sefer-Torah written – according to their tradition – by Rabbi Meir of Rotenberg, and there too the word daka was written with an alef.
Upon reading in the news that a complete Sefer Torah – over 800 years old – was discovered, Rabbi Chitrik lost no time in finding a way to get in touch with professor Perani and see if he could shed any light on the matter.
The Italian professor was happy to oblige and responded with a message and a photo. The word in the Sefer Torah was spelled with an Alef.