See this related question . That question explains the reason for having them. My question asks if there are any halachot that limit its use.

A few weeks ago - I think it was parshat Shmot, I read from a Sefer Torah in my shul where one column had almost every letter stretched. I find it extremely annoying to read from such a Torah. I can tolerate seeing this occasionally, but almost every word with a stretched letter???

I wonder if there are any halachot that limit its use. Specifically if there are limitations on:

  • Where it can be used in a row. First / last letter or only in the middle?
  • How often can it be used within a row or a parsha (a Torah / ktav "parsha", i.e. a paragraph)
  • From the description, I am wondering how that came to be in the first place, especially in the beginning of Shemot. If it were the column just before something that traditionally begins a column, I can understand, but why in Shmot. Was it maybe in Vayechi (the column before "Yehudah, atah yaducha...")?
    – Ze'ev
    Jan 26, 2015 at 4:58
  • Well, when you consider this week's Shirath haYam and Ha'Azinu, you can tell that sometimes letters have to be stretched very much. There's no other way to write those 2 Parshiot as per Mesora. Jan 26, 2015 at 7:39

1 Answer 1


While there are halachos for the size requirements of each letter (as brought down by the Mishna Berura in Mishnas Sofrim - found in Chelek Alef), these are l'chatchila. Since spacing can be difficult, many sofrim (especially beginners) will extend letters to fill space, since space is an issue an separates the various parshiyos in the torah. So, as long as the letter fulfills the halachic requirements of its shape (not completely the same as the halachic requirements of its size, though they are inherently interrelated) it is kosher. But, while kosher, it would not have the status of being mehudar.

As a side point, sometimes there are specific places where Halacha/mesora does require a size change of the letters.

ADDED AFTER ORIGINAL POST: In regard to matters of l'chatchila and b'dieved this is stated both explicitly and through basic understanding of what the Mishna Berura writes in Mishnas Sofrim and in the Beur Halacha. Specifically, when he discusses the kashrus of letters and what to do in a matter of safek, namely sheilos tinok. This is a process where an average child is asked to read the letter and determine what it means while other letters around it are covered up to avoid using context. He also discusses the size of each letter based on kolmus length (the width of the tip of the quill is considered a single kolmus length) from which appropriate letter proportions are determined. Finally, as to my assertion of beginner sofrim versus those who are more skilled, this is a comment made based on my own experience in learning safrus And producing my own writings.

  • 1
    This answer would be more valuable if you would edit in a source for your assertions about lechatchila/bedi'avad and what soferim do in practice. Is the lechatchila/bedi'avad point explicit in the Mishnas Sofrim that you cite? If so, please make that clear. Regarding what soferim do in practice, please explain how you know about that as best as you can.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 5, 2015 at 4:14

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