What is the meaning of the Hebrew written on the inside of our ark and on the Torah table?
When the ark is open, you can see the words etched into the frame above the place where the Torah scrolls rest. It says:
עץ חיים היא למחזיקים
Etz chayim hi l’machazikim ba.
It (the Torah) is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it.
This is what we chant when we return the Torah to the ark towards the end of the service, after we have read the week’s portion and discussed its significance for our lives.
The words inscribed on the Torah table are the last words we say before we close the ark:
דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום
Dracheyha darchei no’am v’chol netivoteyha shalom.
Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.
The words that come between these two phrases are not inscribed on any of our specially crafted ritual furnishings. We sing
And her (the Torah’s) supporters are happy (with guidance we’ve written in our hearts).
(With gratitude that our second Torah scroll has been repaired and restored to its newly secured place in the ark and in appreciation for Joel Reider’s inspired craftsmanship.)