STaM (Sifrei torah, Tefillin & Mezuzot)

What are the different styles of Safrut Writing?

There are 3 basic Hebrew Scripts used today:

  • Beit Yoseph is the script generally adopted by Ashkenazi Jews;  
  • Ari is the script generally used by Jews of Chassidic descent or influence;
  • Vellish is the script generally used by Sephardi Jews.

The Beit Yoseph and Ari scripts are similar, differing only in the form of 5 or 6 letters. Vellish is generally a more rounded hand than the Ashkenazi scripts, and it can be written more quickly. Actually there is some variation also within these three scripts, such that various Sephardi communities write Vellish script differently in characteristic ways and the Lubavitch Chassidim have their own variant of the Ari script. Some Sephardi scribes write with the original Kanai – reed pen; however the accepted form amongst Ashkenazi scribes today is to use a Kulmus (a Latin Roman word) – feather quill.

The Benarroch Sofrim use Beit Yosef Ashkenazi script.

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Megillot/Megillah means “Scroll(s)”. While the term could accurately be used of scrolls of any of the Biblical books, it most commonly refers to the Book of Esther which is read on the Purim festival. Indeed that book is commonly called “The Megillah”.

What are the Five Megillot and when do we read them?

  • Esther, read publicly on the festival of Purim;
  • Song of Songs (Shir ha-Shirim), read on the intermediate Sabbath of Pessach (Passover);
  • Ruth, read on the festival of Shavuot (Weeks) ;
  • Ecclesiastes (Kohelet), read on the intermediate Sabbath of Sukkot (Tabernacles);
  • Lamentations (Eicha), read on the fast day of Tisha B’Av (the Ninth of Av).

While many congregations read these books–except for Megillat Esther–from printed books, there are still some congregations or individuals who read them all from halakhically kosher parchment scrolls. On Purim the halakha (Jewish law) requires the use of a kosher scroll. Nowadays it is common for many congregants to follow the reading from their own parchment scrolls.

What is a HaMelekh Megillah?

Megillot Esther are commonly written with the word HaMelekh (“The King”) at the head of almost all the columns, as this format is popular. There is also an old tradition of illuminating scrolls of Megillat Esther especially above the word HaMelekh as on a deeper level this is a reference to the “King of Kings”.

Megillot Esther are usually written with columns of 11, 14, 21, 28, or 42 lines. They vary in height from about 6 cm (3″) up to about 50 cm (20″).

If you require illuminated crowns for your HaMelekh Megillah, pleasecontact us.