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Following question of "why-is-a-greek-torah-scroll-kosher", the Mishna in Meggila 1.8 reads:

אֵין בֵּין סְפָרִים לִתְפִלִּין וּמְזוּזוֹת אֶלָּא שֶׁהַסְּפָרִים נִכְתָּבִין בְּכָל לָשׁוֹן... רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר, אַף בַּסְּפָרִים לֹא הִתִּירוּ שֶׁיִּכָּתְבוּ אֶלָּא יְוָנִית:

There is no difference between BOOKS [of the Tanakh] and tefillin and mezuzahs except that BOOKS may be written in any language ... Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says that scrolls [of the Tanakh] were permitted to be written only in Greek.

How is a Kosher Torah scroll written in Greek - is there an accepted unified Nosach or does anyone translate as he sees fit? Does one use the Greek Alphabet or Ashurit? Do all the rules of writing a Hebrew-language Sefer Torah (Rambam ibid 7) apply to it also (lines, spacing, big and small letters, omitted and extra letters?


I don't ask if there's masora as in the related question. Since the Mishna states it is possible I'd like to know how possible it WAS done.

  • @JoshK I ask how it WAS done, not how it can be done now. – Al Berko Oct 7 '19 at 19:47
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    If we had the mesora, we'd still have the mesora, wouldn't we, @Al? – Josh K Oct 7 '19 at 19:53
  • @JoshK No, according to [my understanding of] Rambam, just as we lost Rosh Chodesh knowledge we lost most of the rest. – Al Berko Oct 7 '19 at 21:13
  • I agree. That's the point- if we had the mesorah, we'd know how to do it. Because we don't have the mesorah, we don't know. I.e. if we knew how to do this, we would know how to do this – Josh K Oct 8 '19 at 0:22
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I am not aware of any specific directions. It seems that the Septuagint was the model of an acceptable Torah in Greek.

It seems that essentially any good translation would be acceptable, as Moshe Himself wrote the Torah in all 70 languages (as per G-d's command) Devarim 1:5.

בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב הוֹאִיל מֹשֶׁה בֵּאֵר אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת לֵאמֹר׃

On the other side of the Jordan, in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this Teaching. He said:

באר את התורה. בְּשִׁבְעִים לָשׁוֹן פֵּרְשָׁהּ לָהֶם (תנחומא; ע' סוטה ל"ב):

באר את התורה [MOSES BEGAN] TO EXPLAIN THIS LAW — in the seventy languages of the ancient world did he explain it to them (Midrash Tanchuma, Devarim 2; Genesis Rabbah 49; cf. Sotah 32a and Rashi on Deuteronomy 27:8).

And commanded Yehoshua to do the same Devarim 27:8 with Rashi:

וְכָתַבְתָּ עַל־הָאֲבָנִים אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב׃ (ס)

And on those stones you shall inscribe every word of this Teaching most distinctly.

באר היטב EXPLAINING THEM WELL — i.e. in seventy languages (Sotah 32a; cf. Rashi on Deuteronomy 1:5).

However, as the clarity of languages (and perhaps understanding of Torah) declined, only the Septuagint was considered an authoritative translation.

There was also a time when the Torah would be written in the Ivri script instead of the Ashuri script. Today this is not allowed.

It seems that the possibility was legislated away, but not absolutely impossible.

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  • Didn’t mordechai (along with all anshei Knesset hagedola) know all 70 languages? – Lo ani Oct 7 '19 at 20:21
  • @Lo ani Yes, and they were before the Septuagint. In the days of Mordechai it would presumably still be permitted to write a Torah in other languages. – Benyomin Walters Oct 7 '19 at 20:23
  • But there were probably some people that still knew at least one of the languages. Especially since the Chachamim say that the Sefer can be written in any language. – Lo ani Oct 7 '19 at 20:26
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    Perhaps, but it is not the accepted halacha. Mishneh Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah and the Torah Scroll 1:19 Phylacteries and Mezuzoth may only be written in square Hebrew script. Permission was also given to write scrolls of the Law in Greek characters but not in those of any other foreign tongue. The ancient Greek script has gone out of use, been corrupted and become obsolete. Hence, at the present day, all three religious articles,—Scroll of the Law, Tephillin and Mezuzah,—are only written in the square Hebrew script. – Benyomin Walters Oct 7 '19 at 20:46
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    The accepted halacha is still that we can write it in Greek. We just don't know how to. But if we dug up e.g. a Sefer Torah in Greek with a document signed by Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel testifying that it's kosher, we could copy it. On the other hand, if we dug up a Sefer Torah in some other language with a document signed by Mordechai we couldn't copy it, because that's an actual derabbanan. – Heshy Oct 7 '19 at 21:34

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