Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tanakh On Klaf

Although scrolls of the Pentateuch have been common among almost all groups of Jews throughout the millennia, scrolls of the rest of the Tanakh have been much more rare. One colorful individual in the story of Tanakh scrolls was a character in the Old Yishuv of Jerusalem, in the 19th century. He insisted on returning […]


Masechet Soferim, chapter 2, 16-20

טז) לא יעשה חציו גויל וחציו קלפים, אבל עושה חציו גויל וחציו צבאים, אף על פי שאינו מן המובחר. He shouldn’t do half of it on gevil [=a thicker type of cow parchment, more like leather] and half on klaf [a thinner type of parchment made by splitting a cow skin laterally]. But he may […]


Masechet Soferim, chapter 2, 12-15

יב) ובקלפים לא נתנו שיעור, אלא כל מה שהוא רוצה, מוסיף, ובלבד שלא יפחות משלשה דפין. There is no defined measurement for the klafim; whatever one wants, he may add, provided he does not go under three columns. יג) יריעה שבלת, לא יטול שנים ויחזיר שנים, אלא נוטל שלשה ומחזיר שלשה, ומה שהוא מחזיר, כמדת […]


Masechet Soferim, chapter 2, 11

Okay! This bit is what got me started on this in the first place. יא) אבל בשיטין נתנו טעם, כמסעות ארבעים ושנים, וכרבבות של ישראל ששים, וכזקנים של ישראל שבעים ושנים, וכתוכחות של משנה תורה תשעים ושמנה, הכל לפי הכתב. כמסעות, שנאמר ויכתוב משה את מוצאיהם; כרבבות ישראל, שנאמר כתב לך את הדברים האלה כי […]


eeny weeny torah scroll fun

Here’s a video featuring a very tiny totally kosher Torah scroll. The video’s more concerned with the accoutrements, a little aron kodesh and the usual silver ornaments for a Torah scroll, than with the scroll itself. They’re made by Bezalel School-trained artist Shuki Freiman, and they are breathtakingly beautiful, utterly and completely. Seeing them is […]


Masechet Soferim, chapter 2; 8-10

ח) מניחין בסוף הדף כדי הקיפו, ואינו צריך לעשות כן בתחילתו, ולתורה מיכאן ומיכאן; לפיכך גוללין את הספר לתחילתו, ואת התורה לאמצעיתה. One leaves at the end of the [last] column enough to wrap around it. It is not necessary to do this at its beginning. For Torah, on both sides; accordingly, one rolls the […]


from the Torah repair mines

Isn’t this sweet? It’s the little letter aleph in “Vayikra,” but it’s a particularly tiny version, where the height of the whole letter aleph is same as the width of the quill used for the other letters. The regular letters in this sefer, by the way, were 7mm high. Huge!


Why you should have sushi for Shabbat this week

Here’s a quote from Eric Ray’s book Sofer: The Story of a Torah Scroll: …no “base metals” may be used in making or repairing these texts. Base metals are the metals used in everyday tools. That means that no iron, no steel, no brass, no copper, and no bronze can be used. Base metals are […]


Masechet Soferim, chapter 2, 1-7

I was looking up the bit about the number of lines per column (thanks, MarGavriel), and I figured I might as well review (and translate, because that’s how I learn best) the whole chapter. Various people describe Masechet Soferim as a rulebook for writing the Torah. It really isn’t. It’s a minor talmudic tractate containing […]


Responsible fonting: scenes from the inbox

A question from someone typesetting a ketubah: “I’m using typefaces that have a hand-done feel to them, but obviously they are mechanical. There are some typefaces (Guttman Stam and Guttman Stam 1) that recreate a sofrut look. One of these uses taggin and one is plain. I have no pretension to be following sofrut laws, […]