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24 votes
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Is this a mistake in a Torah scroll or intended decoration?

This is a valid way of inserting missing words, as the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh De'ah in סימן רעו - דין תלית הדלוג Paskens: א: טָעָה וְדִלֵּג תֵּבָה אוֹ יוֹתֵר, יָכוֹל לִתְלוֹתָהּ בֵּין הַשִּׁיטִין ...
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15 votes

Can a woman write a megillah?

R Eliezer Melamed, author of Peninei Halakha, (here, note 10) writes The Aĥaronim debate whether a woman may write a Megilla. Birkei Yosef, Mateh Yehuda, and Pri Megadim posit that since a woman must ...
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10 votes
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Is a Sfardi ש incorrect according to this Gemara?

Indeed, the Beit Yosef (OC 36) cites the Gemara you reference and claims that the ש should have a pointed base. The Peri Megadim (EA end of 32) is unsure if this is a necessary component of the letter....
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10 votes
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Were scrolls ever written on both sides?

The Talmud (Shabbat 79b) prescribes specific sides of the hide to be used for writing (depending which parts of the hide are being used) and the majority opinion (YD 271:3) is that writing on the ...
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9 votes
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Has Paleo Hebrew (Ktav Ivri) Ever Been Found With Crowns?

In short, none have been found so far. The earliest Ktav Ivri amulets found are the two Ketef Hinnom silver amulets from late First Temple days. A good description of them with pictures showing no ...
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9 votes
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What was the material used to write the curses for the Sotah on?

The Rambam writes in Hilchot Sotah 3:8 Afterwards, a scroll of parchment from a kosher animal, like the parchment used for a Torah scroll is brought. R Eliyahu Touger explains "the Jerusalem ...
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9 votes

Thickening letters for tefillin and mezuzos

This is a known technique. It's generally considered invalid and called פנים חדשות. See Lishkat HaSofer 9:6: ונ"ל פשוט דאם לאחר שהעבה איזה אות מצד זה גרדו מצד השני ולא נשאר רק הכתב החדש הוי שלא ...
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8 votes
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If the "Nun" preceding Bamidbar (Num) 10:35 is not upside down, is the Torah still kosher?

If the Nun's were not inverted but were left as regular letters, it is kosher bdieved. Source: Sefer Keses Hasofer (Mahadura Tinyana), Chakira 17 (s.v. v'hinei hageonum) citing Noda Beyhudah and ...
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8 votes
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Can one add in missing words above the line in a Torah scroll?

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 ...
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7 votes

Online Safrut Courses

I just saw your question and wanted to let you know there is an online safrut course starting on November 15th. All the information can be found here: http://mastery.webyeshiva.org/safrut-...
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  • 81
7 votes

Is there a standard format for the start of each column in writing Sifrei Torah?

There are two factors determining the start of columns in sifrei torah: Halacha requires that certain words be at the top of the column. The acronym for these words is בי"ה שמו, the mem of which is ...
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7 votes
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Is there a standard format for the start of each column in writing Sifrei Torah?

Standard Sifrei Torah today have 42 lines in each column. While there are different opinions how many lines a Sefer Torah should be (See Keses Hasofer 13:6), this has not developed solwly out of ...
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7 votes
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What's the difference between קסת הסופר and מנחת שי?

Keset HaSofer, by R Shlomo Ganzfried, discusses the laws of writing as a Sofer STaM. Topics include: how to make Kosher parchment, shapes of the letters, intent when writing, what sorts of corrections ...
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7 votes
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May one write with a pencil or marker in the margins of a sefer Torah?

The sefer Piskei Teshuvos (OC 32:12-13) writes that l'chatchila one should not write anything on the margins (or anywhere else) of the sefer torah. If one did write something, even a sofer marking a ...
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  • 5,539
7 votes

What are the symbols in the margins of the Aleppo codex?

The marginal notes you are referring to are called the masorah, in particular the masorah parva (small or inner masorah). These mostly mark rare words or ketiv qerei pairs. The other two types are the ...
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7 votes
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Why is the final Heh in Ha'Shem's name different in K'thav Chabad/Alter-Rebbe?

Good eye! You're noticing a Kabbalistic practice called כתיבת השם בחילוק writing God's name by parts. I won't begin to pretend to understand it, but those who practice it write the different limbs of ...
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6 votes

When Sofrim write Sifrei Torah, do they think of the Ba'alei Kri'ah (readers)?

From personal experience, here's what the Sofer thinks about, while writing: It's Lishma - and watch out for names of Hashem that need individual attention to become Lishma. Don't smudge, it's wet ...
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6 votes

Could a Torah Scroll Be Writtin in Ktav Ivri (Paleo Hebrew)?

In Massechet Mezuzah 1:3, we read: שנה אותיותיה או שנכתבה עברית הרי זו פסולה. If you changed [a mezuzah]'s letters or it was written in k'tav ivri, it is pasul. [my transl.] The same can be found in ...
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6 votes

What is the purpose of the "crowns" on top of the letters (tagin)?

In a responsum on the topic of the crowns (1:79 in the Machon Yerushalayim edition of Shu"t HaRambam) Rambam writes that the reason for the crowns is unknown. ואין ידוע טעם לזה ואי אפשר לכוללם בכלל
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6 votes

What halachic sefarim do sofrim learn?

When I started studying hilchot safrut, I was told to use the Kesset haSofer (by R' Schlomo Ganzfried ע"ה) with R' Ya'akov Stern's Mishnat haSofer. It can be purchased here. From others, I have ...
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6 votes
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What is the source for writing names of Haman's sons in a separate column?

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Megillah 3:7) says about the list that the word איש should be at the "head" of the column and ואת should be at the "end" of it. Some versions (see Masekhet Sofrim 13:6) also ...
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6 votes
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Why does one need to go to the mikvah before writing a letter in the Torah?

As @DoubleAA wrote in the comments, this is not halacha, but a minhag brought by some, e.g., from here #2 "Ritual immersion on a regular basis (not just because of the decree of Ezra) is fitting ...
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6 votes
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Elevated Ayin (ע) in Iyov 38:13 and 38:15

Talmud Sanhedrin 103b אמר ר"ש בן לקיש מאי דכתיב (איוב לח, טו) וימנע מרשעים אורם וזרוע רמה תשבר מפני מה עי"ן של רשעים תלויה כיון שנעשה אדם רש מלמטה נעשה רש מלמעלה ולא נכתביה כלל ר' יוחנן ור"א חד ...
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6 votes
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Tagin on letter Tet

Bnei Yissaschar, Kislev 2: עוד כתב הרב הקדוש הנ"ל תקנו ל"ו נרות כנגד האור הראשון ששימש לאדה"ר ל"ו שעות כמשארז"ל בפסיקתא וכתב עוד שעל אות ט' של וירא אלקים את האור כי טו"ב יש על הט' ד' תגין להורות ד' ...
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6 votes
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Is there ever a rule not to place certain words on separate lines in a Sefer Torah?

Yes, that custom still exists. The most famous example is the toponym בית-אל. The Arukh HaShulchan (YD 275:24) lists the following examples, though surely there are some variant customs out there: ...
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5 votes
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Broken פ- What's wrong with it?

Machon Mishmeret Stam published a book on Mishnat Sofrim with a commentary. In an appendix, they deal with this exact issue: (I couldn't find an online version...sorry) Based on this text, I can ...
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  • 4,353
5 votes

Are the tagin considered part of the letter itself?

Emes l'Yaakov - #17 & Dinim Uminhagim both say that when Tagin are missing from the Torah is not considered Pasul, and one does not have to take out a different Torah, yet one should not read from ...
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5 votes

Sofrim selling other's K'tav rather than their own

There is an inyan that one should not buy STaM from someone who is not a certified sofer. Someone could have a talent for checking, buying, and selling STaM without being really good at writing them....
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5 votes
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What is the reason for "stretched" letters in the Torah?

Pasted from my answer to this question: Stretching letters is not a matter of custom, but one of practicality. Halacha requires the columns be justified. Microsoft Word handles justifies text by ...
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5 votes
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Confusing Tes with Pei

Here are three ways this Gemara is understood in Rishonim. The Yereim argues that the problem is if you add the green segment, then the non-blue parts make up a Pei, and that's a problem even though ...
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