In the Tanakh Simanim, primarily Tehillim, (Feldheim) much of Ketuvim is written in a "shir format" where there are lots of line breaks and open spaces, not unlike Hazinu, Shirat HaYam or Shirat Devorah.

  1. Is this the layout that these Ketuvim would appear if written on a klaf?
  2. If the previous answer is yes, why don't other versions of Tanakh, like Artscroll, also format their Ketuvim like this, especially since they do in other parts of Tanakh?
  3. Of all the Ketuvim, why is the one sefer with shir in the title, Shir HaShirim, not in this format?

1 Answer 1


Yes that's the official layout structure when formally writing a scroll. See Masekhet Sofrim 13:1.

Haazinu, Tehillim, Mishlei, most of Iyov, and the Song of David in Samuel are written in a split pattern according to the will of the scribe. A good scribe makes the splits at breaks in the flow of the content.

For Haazinu specifically there is an old tradition of where to put the splits such that you end up with 70 lines (see Soferim 12:9) though not all communities follow that tradition. It's not strictly required in the sense that ordinary Parsha breaks are required.

These works are all quite structurally poetic, unlike Canticles, and thus the format suits them (think William Shakespeare vs. Walt Whitman).

See too this answer.


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