I have heard that a haftorah klaf (scroll) is still considered kosher and usable if the Ta'amei Mikra have been written on it. Yet I've always been told that this is not true for a Torah scroll. Why the difference?

  • +1, interesting question, but a source for your two claims (that a k'laf can be used for haftara with cantillation marks written in for haftara, and that a k'laf can't be used that way for the Tora reading) would be valuable. (If you know where such a source is, checking there may even give you your answer; otherwise, the citation may give others ideas about where an answer may be.) Anyway, welcome to the site! Please consider registering your account: it'll give you access to more site features.
    – msh210
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 21:49
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    Ben F., welcome! I'm glad you brought your question here. I hope you enjoy the site and stick around. @msh210 I'm guessing that if Ben F. had a textual source handy to cite for each fact, he'd know the answer to his question.
    – Seth J
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 21:57
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    @msh210 691:9 he.wikisource.org/wiki/…
    – Double AA
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 22:04
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    See the chapter in שרשי מנהג אשכנז about this
    – user2762
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 13:30
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    @Yehoshua, see the revision history of this question. I posted my comment before the edit that indicated the source of the asker's knowledge. I'm happy with the current version if the asker is.
    – msh210
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


Wow, I was fascinated by the question, so I looked it up...

First, an introduction of a central concept: There is a disagreement that wends through the Talmud (like Sanhedrin 4a,b) regarding the words of a Torah scroll whether "Yesh Aim leMikrah" or "Yesh Aim leMesoret". Roughly translated, that means "Primacy is given to how it is read" or "Primacy is given to the Tradition". So, for example, the Torah says not to cook a kid BCHLV IMO. Without a Tradition, you might read that as BeCHeLeV IMO, in its mother's fats. The Tradition tells us to read it BaCHaLeV IMO, in its mother's milk. Should we give more legitimacy to the first interpretation unless we have a special indication that only the Tradition applies? Or should we work with the Traditional reading unless there is a special reason to consider the simple reading as well?

Now, to begin the answer... The prohibition of using a Sefer Menukad (vowelized scroll) in Shulchan Aruch is in YD 274:7, and in the Ta"z 6 & 7. For simplicity though, I'm translating Keset HaSofer 16:6: "A vowelized Torah Scroll is pasul because we have established that 'Primacy is given to the Tradition', and once it's vowelized there is only 'how it is read' [which is to be secondary]. And even if they should remove the vowelization, it remains pasul! Since the intention of the scribe was that he was unconcerned about the Tradition but only to 'how it is read', and for this purpose he wrote it, it is as if the document condemns itself as a forgery ("Mezuyaf miTocho"). [Ta"z] But had the Torah Scroll already been written properly, and then they added vowels or cantillations, scratching out would help as it does by other errors..."

The rules for writing Megillot are in OC 691. Law 9 simply reads, "A Megillah that is vowelized, and similarly if on the first page are written the blessings and poems, is not disqualified thereby." No explanation is given to the difference, as if it were self-explanatory.

Presumably, the difference is the Torah Scroll's requirement to conform 100% to the Mesoret, the Tradition from Moshe at Sinai through Ezra, whereas the primary requirement of the Megillah is to be read properly, and if the vowels help, so be it...

  • Am I overreading this? Is it just that there were 2 kinds of scrolls - with vowels for casual study & without for official use - and writing with vowels just showed that the scribe might be more careless, since he wrote it for more casual use? Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 7:52
  • I see he said Haftorah, not Megillah in his question. The answer still applies, as Prophets like Megillot don't need to have the same level of precision as Torah Scrolls. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 7:55
  • I could be wrong; but, I'm pretty sure you flipped Miqra and Masoret. According to Masekhet Sanhedrin on Halakhah.com, Miqra is "how it is read" (Qeri) and Masoret is "how it is written" (Ketiv).
    – Lee
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 21:06

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