I've been reading about details of Torah sofrut, and after learning about the paragraph markers peh / פ (petucha) and samekh / ס (setuma), I noticed some similarly placed shin markers (mostly at the end of a sefer), but cannot find an answer in Google searches. What does it stand for? (Example: parsha VaYechi). I'm using an electronic version from Mechon Mamre similar to Keter Yerushalayim / Aleppo Codex.

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    sventech, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for bringing your question here! I look forward to seeing you around.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 19:08
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    I just did a search of Mechon Mamre and asked a friend who has a Koren New Jerusalem Bible. The shin marker only appears at the end of a book, making it the Masoretic note indicating just that. In terms of safrus, it means that you skip four lines before starting the next book.
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 0:09
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    mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0214.htm#31, mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0215.htm#19, These are by Az Yashir
    – user3113
    Commented Apr 9, 2014 at 18:08
  • @sharshi what's with the Reish??
    – Seth J
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


The following information is recorded on the Mechon Mamre website:

בתנ"כים שלנו יש גם סימני הפרשייות {פ} {ס} {ר} {ש} שהם מסמנים פרשה פתוחה, פרשה סתומה, סוף שורה בשירות מסויימות, ושורה ריקה (או שורות ריקות בסוף ספר).‏

My translation:

In our Tanakhs there are also [the following] disjunctive symbols: פ,‎ ס,‎ ר,‎ ש, which stand for "open break" (פרשה פתוחה), "closed break" (פרשה סתומה), the "end of each line in determined poems" (סוף שורה בשירות מסויימות - eg: Exodus 15:1-19) and a "blank line" (or "blank lines at the end of a book" - שורות ריקות בסוף ספר).

That should answer your question, although I don't know where that tradition stems from. Obviously it's not the Aleppo Codex, since the Aleppo Codex is lacking most of the Torah (and I don't think these details were recorded prior to their being destroyed). I checked Rabbi Prof. Mordechai Breuer's Tanakh and I also checked the BHS, and neither of them recorded this. I have fascimiles of the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and neither record these symbols between other books in Tanakh (nor does the latter record it between Genesis and Exodus).

Finally, I looked at Yeivin's Tiberian Masorah and Tov's Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, and they don't appear to mention it either. Regrettably, Mechon Mamre does not declare exactly which mss they are employing, save to note that they are close to the Aleppo Codex.

  • Thanks, Shimon! That is exactly what I was looking for. Likewise I have no idea where they got that tradition. With regard to the Torah of the Aleppo Codex, my understanding is that Rabbi Prof. Mordechai Breuer's Tanakh is said to follow it closely by comparing other manuscripts alleged to be direct descendants (copies) of it, although only a small part of D'varim is extant.
    – sventechie
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 5:10
  • @sventech Only a small part of Devarim is extant...from Torah. There is still most of Nach that is also extant.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 12:02
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    Am I reading correctly that ר is for "שירה" and ש is for "ריקה" or is the order switched somewhere?
    – WAF
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 18:56
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    You are correct, WAF - I just put the ר and the ש in bold so that you can see. It's not clear to me why they use a ר when the order that you suggest makes more sense.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 22:20
  • @DoubleAA, when I was in Yerushalayim over the summer, I learned that some other leaves from the Torah portion of Keter Aram Soba have survived, including a portion from somewhere near the Kadesh-li. Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 22:32

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