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Why do Torah scrolls not have vowels or Trope, thus forcing the reader to memorize both?

Is there a historical or Halachic reason for this?

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  • This was the way that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote it. The nekudos were not invented until much later. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niqqud Dec 12, 2016 at 18:28
  • @The symbols were not, but the vowels and cantillations were part of the Oral Torah.
    – Adám
    Dec 12, 2016 at 18:43
  • @Adám At least, the intended construct is part of the Oral Torah. Implementation almost certainly changed (not to mention the multiple vowel and cantillation systems with different numbers of elements).
    – Double AA
    Dec 12, 2016 at 18:50
  • @DoubleAA Obviously. Otherwise we wouldn't have had nekidoys and nqudot today. But I don't think that was the OP's question.
    – Adám
    Dec 12, 2016 at 19:02
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    @Adám I didn't mean the question of how to pronounce a Segol. Rather, is there such thing as a Segol? Babylonians didn't have that sound. The point is the symbols were made up to match the sounds they had. There's no Oral Torah that this letter has a Segol sound, and the we go find what that is. It's this word is in the [tense] construct, and this is how we pronounced that.
    – Double AA
    Dec 12, 2016 at 19:33

1 Answer 1

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The vowels and cantillations are part of the Oral Torah, and were thus to be memorized and transmitted from generation to generation. Only when we (relatively recently) began writing down the Oral Torah, did we also invent ways to write vowels and cantillations. However, not to add anything to the Holy Torah, we do not write them into Torah Scrolls, only into printed books, like a Tikkun (a special version of the Torah Scroll designed to aid memorization).

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  • An aside: some authorities permit a reader to put an overlay with vocalisation and cantillation over the klaf in certain circumstances. The Shevet haLevi (R' Shmuel haLevi Wosner זצ”ל) held that this was forbidden. Dec 12, 2016 at 19:43
  • @NoachMiFrankfurt Wait, I thought a sefer torah was valid even if the nekudos had been penciled in.
    – Adám
    Dec 12, 2016 at 19:45
  • See the first siman of Kesset haSofer, where he brings an aggad'ta which discusses the alteration of sifrei sta"m. IIRC, it is assur to add any type of marking (at least in dyo) outside of the mesorah (this does not affect the דכה/דכא controversy or a Temani practice of poking holes at pauses [etnachta, sof passuk, et c.]). Dec 12, 2016 at 19:49
  • The vowels and cantillations are part of the Oral Torah Do you have a source for this?
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 13, 2016 at 6:09
  • However, not to add anything to the Holy Torah, we do not write them into Torah Scrolls The inverted nuns are likely a later addition.
    – mevaqesh
    Dec 13, 2016 at 6:10

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