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Between Mincha and Ma'ariv on Shmini Atzeret, I'd like to give a short shiur on some interesting facts about how a Torah is written. I'm looking for some fairly easy to understand online resources on Safrut and some other ideas. Among some of the topics I'd like to discuss include:

  • The general rules regarding minimum / maximum:

    • parchment size (in inches, pref.) - height , width, thickness
    • font size (I've seen small & large sifrei Torah)
    • column size (inches; proportion to parchment width, etc.)
    • min. / max. number of lines per column
    • number of columns per parchment sheet
    • minimum / maximum allowable spacing between lines. I'm assuming this allows for "risers" and "drops" - i.e. a lamed has an area above the line and a nun goes below the line. How much space must be allowed for these?
    • If there are different rules for Ashkenaz / Sefardi, etc. (I don't think so, offhand), please inform
  • I understand that there are various standardized formats that developed. The only one I am somewhat familiar with is Vavei Ha'amudim. Is there are an article that discusses its history - who and why this was established, and what the rules are? Any other common formats?

  • Rules regarding minimum spacing for "closed" (stumot) and "open" (ptuchot) paragraphs

  • Rules regarding the shape of letters, I read, for example, that an aleph has two yods; the chet is 2 vavs, etc. - I know this is quite detailed, but if there is an online source that explains this with some pics, I can, possible, glean a few items.

Thanks for your help. I'd prefer one or more online sources. At the moment, the general and the vavei ha'amudim standard are the two more critical items for me, but anything else is a huge help.

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    I would advise checking out Sefer Mishnat haSofer al Keset haSofer. it is a relatively new sefer, being published within the last decade and includes haskamot from the Wiznitzer Rebbe and the Shevet haLevi. However, it costs twice as much in the US as it does in Meah Shearim! – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 14 '15 at 14:46
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    @NoachmiFrankfurt USeful info. My brother lives in Israel, so perhaps, I'll ask him to get it for me. I assume it is all in Hebrew. How easy is it to understand. My Hebrew is quite good, but, not always when it comes to understanding halachic / technical terms. Any idea what this costs in Israel (converted to U.S $) ? – DanF Oct 14 '15 at 14:56
  • The Hebrew is typically pretty easy, the core-text and author's commentary are in Rabbinic Hebrew and the Mishnat haSofer commentary is in modern Hebrew. Except for sources, it's in square type. It's only about 75₪ at the store in Meah Shearim where I purchased it, or about $20. On the other hand, here it costs between $30-50. You can find the Keset haSofer, by R' Shlomo Ganzfried זצ”ל on Hebrewbooks. – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 14 '15 at 16:41
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There is a wonderful book that adresses exactly this sort of questions across tefilin, mezuzot, megilot and sifrei Torah. Very easy to read and fascinating information

Inside Stam: An insider reveals the answers to all the questions you should ask when purchasing or maintaining Tefillin, Mezuzos, Megillos, Sifrei Torah and Nevi'im

It is good enough that I bought multiple copies to offer to friends.

  • very good, should have suggested it myself!!! – SamuelManuel Feb 29 '16 at 18:24
  • This book is excellent for a complete novice learning what most of the basic Halakhic issues today in STaM are, but it's far from the "Complete Buyer's Guide" it bills itself as. There are lots of different Minhagim and variant opinions which barely make it into the Hebrew footnotes if mentioned at all. Unless you see the world as consisting entirely of one kind of Sefardi and two kinds of Ashkenazi (Chassidish and Litvak), your still going to want good rabbinic consultation before acting on what you read here. (Not unlike many mass-distributed English Halakhic summary books). – Double AA Dec 21 '17 at 17:58
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I just answered someone else and saw your question and wanted to let you know there is an online safrut course starting on November 15th. All the information can be found here.

  • Thank you. The course sounds interesting. Unfortunately, while I would like to learn Safrut, I can't commit to this specific schedule. I didn't realize how much materials are involved in doing this. – DanF Oct 14 '15 at 14:34
  • @DanF, my father sent me a link for this the other day that he saw as an ad on (of all places) Facebook. I believe that this course is for someone to receive kabbalah as a sofer, rather than just to learn the halachot. – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 14 '15 at 14:42
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt Yes, I understood that from reading the description. And, personally, I wouldn't mind learning basic safrut, as I'd like to, perhaps, write some tefillin so that my eventual grandkids (B"H, I have a good while to worry about this) can have personalized tefillin from their grandpa. And, my shul has a few sifrei Torah that need some fixing, so at least they can have a "back up" sofer. – DanF Oct 14 '15 at 14:53
  • @DanF, there are some things you don't need to have kabbalah to do, like sewing yeriot (particularly necessary for a maftir sefer). – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 14 '15 at 16:44
  • The course info is useful. However, it doesn't answer any of my questions, directly. I'd like something more immediately accessible that answers some of the questions. It turns out, that I gave the shiur and I compiled a small "pamphlet" gleaned from various web sources. Perhaps, I will upload this to a shared drive and post as my own answer. – DanF Oct 14 '15 at 17:07
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http://stam-ink.blogspot.co.il/ as well as http://www.ctc-torah.org/ Both are good resources for the layman who wants to learn about safrus

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