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I remember hearing once that sifrey Tanach had to have a required minimum number of lines when written on a klaf and that this requirement is often not followed by those writing "parshas ketores" and Megillas Ester. Is there a source that discusses the minimum number of lines required for a Megilla or any other sefer Tanach when written on a klaf?

  • I've never heard of a required minimum (only customary minima). The custom is to not have less than 48 (some say 42) – Double AA Apr 25 '18 at 19:55
  • he.m.wikisource.org/wiki/… there may be a requirement that the height of the written part be the majority of the height of the scroll. So if you have a short scroll you may have a minimum number of lines so as not to have too much blank space. Or you could just make a few really tall lines I guess. I don't know if one row can be considered a column; would you still need margin gaps? – Double AA Apr 25 '18 at 20:11
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R Reuvain Mendlowitz in his book Inside stam (pp. 268ff) writes regarding Megillat Esther

  • Many Rishonim are of the opinion that a Megillat Esther is the same as a sefer Torah in all respects. This includes the number of lines - customarily 42 and many older, pre-war megillot were 42 lines
  • Other Rishonim however feel that there is no need to be particular about the number of lines. And in recent years most megillot sold are either 21 or 28 lines. Although there is nothing wrong with such megillot even according to those call for 42 lines, there is no halachic basis for those numbers
  • The one other requirement is that 11 lines seem the minimum to write the 10 sons of Haman and the line preceding them on the same page.

Because of the halacha that the height of the written area be greater than the height of the upper and lower margin combined, the smallest halachically acceptable megilla should be 15.1cm high. R Mendlowitz goes into detail in this calculation and the various halachic opinions that lead to it.


Regarding sifrei neviim more generally he writes (p. 265) that there are no sources indicating a preference as to overall height or the number of lines per column.

  • Why must the sons of Haman be written on the same column? Why not two columns of 5 sons each? – Double AA Jun 5 '18 at 17:23
  • "the halacha that the height of the written area be greater than the height of the upper and lower margin combined" where is this Halakha recorded? – Double AA Jun 5 '18 at 17:23
  • "be 15.1cm high" What size Tefach is he using here? – Double AA Jun 5 '18 at 17:26
  • This sort of handwaving over the fundamental questions which aren't commonly implemented nowadays is exactly why I don't generally recommend this book to people to learn about STaM. It's a good guide to your local Judaica shop but totally missing the whole picture of the World of STaM – Double AA Jun 5 '18 at 17:27
  • Lots of questions.... first one (sons of Haman on same page [not column as you wrote]: Sofrim 13:6 - this one I checked :->), second as discussed above, 2:3? maybe you can check as I don't seem to understand the text as well as I should, third indeed no issue - will edit, fourth when calculating the minimum he goes with the leniency of a "regular finger" and uses the smallest one (R Chaim Naeh: 1.5cm) – mbloch Jun 5 '18 at 17:33

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