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One of the Torah's in my shul has this interesting safrut style. Note that the last word of the verse appears between the lines. It seems that the Sofer (scribe) ran out of room, and stuck in the last word.

I asked my rav to explain this. He's not a safrut expert, and, neither of us had ever seen anything like this. He surmised that the word immediately before and immediately after the correction (the full correction is in much smaller script than the surrounding text.) is Elohim which is one of G-d's names. The rav explained that one is not allowed to erase G-d's name unless there really is an error in the Torah in that name. So, the sofer was limited to correcting things in that limited space, but it still seems that he ran out of space when arriving at the last word.

picture of torah scroll

  • DanF, I feel sorry for this Sefer Torah. That is really ugly. – ezra Sep 12 '17 at 1:55
  • @ezra Beggars can't be choosers. Jewish communities weren't always so well off that they could afford to waste Torah sections. Nowadays if this happened the value of the scroll would probably drop significantly because people only want the most perfect writing. It'd be worth it for the scribe to write the whole sheet of parchment anew. Such waste... – Double AA Sep 12 '17 at 2:15
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    @ezra I absolutely agree with you. I won't delve much into my shul dynamics, though, you've probably picked up much about it from my many other posts on M.Y. This specific Torah is a tiny Torah that is usually reserved for a mourner's home. As my shul's Ba'al Kri'ah, I rarely see this Torah. There was about a 4 month period a few years ago, while another Torah was being fixed, that we used the avel one in shul, and that's when I noticed this weird technique. Recently, we called in the sofer to inspect all the usable sefarim (about 6 in total), and I recalled this error. (cont.) – DanF Sep 12 '17 at 13:36
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    .. and said, "I think it's OK, but I have to re-check b/c I'm not 100% sure if this is done right." But, he saw the rest of the Torah and said, and I'm not thrilled with the overall quality as the letters are cracking, and I don't sense that it's worth correcting this or anything else. AFAIK, the Torah is kosher for now. But, I agree that this is a rather "shameful" sofer style even if it is halachically acceptable. It looks like it will remain used in the occasional avel's home for the foreseeable future. That's not that often, so, essentially, it will be "ignored and stored" somewhere. – DanF Sep 12 '17 at 13:40
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Shulchan Arukh YD 276:1

טעה ודילג תיבה או יותר -- יכול לתלותה בין השיטין אבל לא בריוח שבין דף לדף:‏
[If a scribe] erred and skipped a word or more -- he can hang it between the lines but not in the space between the columns.

Seems like you guys basically figured this one out. It looks like the scribe accidentally skipped a line, and since he couldn't erase God's name, he had to squeeze two lines worth of text into one line. He ran out of room and hung the last word between the lines. Obviously not an ideal situation, but still kosher (in theory, though I'm not making any rulings on that particular scroll based just on half a picture; indeed when hanging a missing word one is generally supposed to start it just above the beginning of the next word, not centered over the gap between words as in your picture).

Remember even when hanging words between the lines the letters still need to be formed properly. Also there are various restrictions regarding the amount one can hang between the lines and regarding writing God's name in this fashion.

  • Thanks for the overall info. Would you have any source that specifies the parameters for what you mentioned at the end, namely the "restrictions of the amount allowed"? I think that's part of what concerned us. As I stated in above comment, it looks like, for now, it will be occasionally used with the assumption that the amount is OK, and there are no other errors, somewhere else. – DanF Sep 12 '17 at 13:44
  • @DanF In your case it's just one word being hung. That's totally fine. The issues with amount are when you have to hang more than a whole line or when you have to hang in more than 3 places on a column. – Double AA Sep 12 '17 at 13:48

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