I don't know if i'm entirely correct in this, but I understand that there have in the past been variations in malai and chaser, throughout both the ashkenazi and sephardi world..

And then there was some kind of standardisation, whereby "the only difference" one might or will find between an ashkenazi and sephardi torah scroll, is the aleph vs heh in the dakah of petzua dakah, in Deut 23:2 Where sephardim are said to use aleph and ashkenazim are said to use heh If that is indeed the case, then i'm interested in who made that decision, of what standard text to use, and that ashkenazi scrolls would have a heh and sephardi ones an aleph. (I note, from links in a previous answer, what is the single letter difference between ashkenazi and sephardi torah scrolls that suggests that lubavitch might've switched to aleph, and that there's still a good argument, from josh waxman's article, that heh is the authentic form)

If somebody visited 10 sofrim, in London or 10 sofrim in New York, what text of the Torah would they be copying from? Is there likely to be a difference between ashkenazi sofrim and sephardi sophrim?

I understand that Aron Dotan has produced a work to try to come up with an accurate bible for synagogue use, but I don't know if Sofrim would be taking any notice of it?

A review of Dotan's BHL by L Tucker on amazon says " ...the author's intent is to provide a text "...suitable for Jewish ritual use as well" as providing an accurate Bible. This "intent" colors the text somewhat as He was willing to be "occasionally obliged to deviate from it, ( the Leningrad Codex ), for the sake of customs and conventions that have become rooted since the time the manuscript was written." "

I have read of OCR being used on Torah scrolls to ensure they're accurate, though, accurate to what text?

I understand it to be the case that the 1525 Bomberg rabbinic bible, and I suppose the 1517-1519 Bomberg bible that it was based on decisions made after seeing various manuscripts.. I heard once that the text we use is based on the bomberg rabbinic bible but I don't know if that's correct.

  • Check out Minchat Shai (Yedidya Norzi) and Ohr Torah (Menachem Lonzano) and Masoret Syag laTorah (Meir Abulafiya)
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:44
  • By the way, the Alter Rebbe also was under the opinion that there was an aleph in dakah instead of a he, in difference to the opinion of the Vilna Gaon. In truth, the oldest discovered Sefer Torah has an aleph, but it technically is a Sephardi one so...Plus it is arguable that aleph is a he because there is a convenient smudge over the letter. crownheights.info/chabad-news/394038/…
    – ezra
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 16:54
  • @DoubleAA Thanks. If they were in english then i'd have a chance to check them out. I guess they're only in hebrew though.
    – barlop
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 17:07
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    @Ezra it also has plenty of differences from what the alter Rebbe had, but chabad doesn't talk about them...
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 17:13
  • 1
    @barlop Go look at Chabad's published Chumash over there. They proudly cite numerous old famous manuscripts which prove the Rebbe was right and conveniently ignore all the places those manuscripts differ from their text. It reads like a joke, but none of their readers know enough to realize it. I'm not talking about typos. I'm talking about Machlokot. The comments I see on that site are about typos (ענוים vs ענבים).
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 19:53

2 Answers 2


The following Aishdas article http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_pamphlet9.html seems to explain what the Torah we use is based on. The article is also mentioned at this mywesternwall link [here][1]

According to that aishdas article, it started with the 1525 Bomberg "Rabbinic Bible" (though that was published in 1517,1525,1548,1568) (ref, the digitalcommons link). Bomberg was a Christian publisher. Also note that Soncino(an Orthodox Jewish publisher) did publish a complete hebrew bible before that, in 1488 (ref- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 4 By Geoffrey W. Bromiley) , that came up in a search on google books for soncino hebrew bible). But perhaps, as that aishdas article says, the 1525 Bomberg was used.

According to the Aishdas article, the 1525 Bomberg bible is full of errors that were corrected in Minhas Shai and Or Torah.

The aishdas article continues, saying "R’ Menachem di Lonzano in his Or Torah and R’ Shlomo Yedidiah Nortzi in his Minchat Shai. These two scholars used the tools of majority and tradition to clarify the accepted text of the Bible and their work remains the guide for scribes as codified by R’ Shlomo Ganzfried (the author of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) in his Kesset Sofer." and "The true determinators of the accepted text were the authors of Or Torah and Minchat Shai (see Breuer, [ his introduction to "The Aleppo Codex and the Accepted Text of the Bible"] par. 23)."

Note- I notice that DoubleAA in comment mentioned Or Torah and Minchas Shai, and also DoubleAA mentions Masoret Syag laTorah by Meir Abulafiya.

The Aishdas article says "Recently, R’ Mordechai Breuer applied this same methodology[majority, and tradition] to the best and most ancient texts of the Bible available. He used the following versions: The Aleppo Codex, the Leningrad Codex, the British Museum Manuscript, the Cairo Codex, and the two Sasoon Manuscripts of the Bible. Based on the principles of majority and tradition, he arrived at a text of the entire Bible that is consistent with the Masora and is, surprisingly, almost identical to the Aleppo Codex. See his "The Aleppo Codex and the Accepted Text of the Bible". His edition of the Bible is already becoming standard in many libraries and synagogues."

Note, I don't know about the availability of other manuscripts that R Breuer used but the Aleppo codex wouldn't have been available to the Bomberg publishers.


The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 4 By Geoffrey W. Bromiley (it came up from a search of soncino hebrew bible on google books)

mywesternwall link

The Strange Career of the Biblia Rabbinica among Christian Hebraists, 1517–1620 Stephen G. Burnet

aishdas article
(the article is also reproduced at that western wall link )


Almost all ashkenazi sofrim today will be copying a edition of the torah developed by rav menachem davidovitch from israel, who developed a way to format the torah with a minimum of streaching and and squeezing letters. I think this only answers part of your question

  • 1
    it doesnt answer anything.. you give no reference and I didnt ask about formatting. This link baltimorejewishlife.com/news/… mentions that he helped re figuring out a better or more correct way to write the letter peh.. again not what I asked.
    – barlop
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 2:33
  • I quote "If somebody visited 10 sofrim, in London or 10 sofrim in New York, what text of the Torah would they be copying from? Is there likely to be a difference between ashkenazi sofrim and sephardi sophrim?" Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 15:45
  • Almost every askenazik sofer will be copying from Rav Davidovitch's Tikun. A sefer Torah MUST be checked against a previous earlier checked copy. (I believe the requirement is to be checked twice, but I don't remember) . This is what is called Mesorah. Rav Davidovitch based his formating on the askenazik Mesorah text. The OCR check is to this authenticated Mesorah text, though it also comes in sefardic versions. In mainstream Orthodox thought, in almost all cases we will follow the Mesorah, even if someone claims that he can prove that earlier traditions were different. Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 15:56
  • Please clarify precisely what you are asking. Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 15:58
  • 1
    It seems like your answer is that Davidovich's recension is the one used. This is certainly an odd way to put it since he wasn't really a masoretic scholar. Also notably his is not the only active Mesorah. Indeed the notion you mention of not looking to earlier texts for proofs runs counter to the work of the great orthodox masoretic scholars like Ramah and Meiri and Rambam and Ohr Torah who did seek out old texts to resolve differences.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 21:32

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