The Full Wiki

Sofer: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Sofer finishing the final letters of a Torah scroll

A Sofer, Sofer STaM, or Sofer ST"M (Heb: "scribe", סופר סת”ם, pl. "Soferim," fem. "Soferet," where ST"M is an abbreviation for Sefer Torahs, Tefillin, and Mezuzot) is a Jewish scribe who can transcribe Torah scrolls and other religious writings such as those used in Tefillin and Mezuzot.

By simple definition, a sofer is a copyist, but in their religious role in Judaism they are much more. Besides Torah scrolls, Tefillin, and Mezuzot, scribes are also necessary for the writing of Megillot (scrolls of the Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, Book of Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Book of Lamentations), Nevi'im (the books of the prophets, used for reading the haftarah), and for Gittin - divorce documents. Also many scribes function as calligraphers — writing functional documents such as marriage contracts, or ornamental and artistic renditions of religious texts — which do not require any scribal qualifications, and to which the rules on lettering and parchment specifications do not apply.

The major Jewish law (Halakha) pertaining to "Sofrut," the practice of scribal arts, is in the Talmud in the tractate Maseket Sofrim. In the Torah's 613 Mitzvot (commandments) the 613th[1] is that every male should write a Sefer Torah in his lifetime.(Deut. 31:19)

Contents

Qualifications and education

A sofer should be religiously observant, of good character, and knowledgeable about the laws concerning sofrut. It is a common misconception that one has to be a rabbi in order to become a Sofer, which is not required by Jewish law.

People who want to become ritual scribes usually learn from another expert scribe by undergoing Shimush (Apprenticeship), since it would be impossible for someone to be a certified scribe without any actual practice. The hardest part about learning to be a Sofer is not the calligraphy, but rather remembering the thousands of laws that apply to Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls), Tefillin (Phylacteries) and Mezuzot and all the other texts that are written on parchment.

Some people who want to become ritual scribes learn at the Vaad Mishmereth STaM (in Jerusalem, Israel, as well in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.) with the option of receiving a certificate. This is an international organization whose goal is to protect the artisanship of Sofrut.

Advertisements

Texts teaching Sofrut

The main texts from which Sofrim learn the scribal art include: The Keset Ha-Sofer, Chasdey David, Mishnah B'rurah Volume I(B) - The laws of T'fillin,Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Tefillin u’Mezuzah v’Sefer Torah. Hilchot Tzitzit, Mishnat Hasofer, Mishnat Sofrim, Likkut Sifrey Stam.[2]

Women and Sofrut

Forming the basis for the discussion of women becoming Soferot, Talmud Gittin 45b states: "Sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzot written by, a heretic, a star-worshipper, a slave, a woman, a minor, a Cuthean, or an apostate Jew, are unfit for ritual use."[3] The rulings on Mezuzah and Tefillin are virtually undisputed among those who hold to the Talmudic Law. However, there are those who contest the idea that a woman is not permitted to write a Sefer Torah. Arba'ah Turim does not include women in its list of those ineligible to write Sifrei Torah. [4] Women are permitted by many Rabbis to inscribe Ketubot (marriage contracts), Megillot (scrolls), STaM not intended for ritual use, and other writings of Sofrut beyond simple STaM.

Documents written by scribes

Besides Torah scrolls, Tefillin, and Mezuzot, scribes are also necessary the writing of Megillot (scrolls of the Song of Songs, Book of Ruth, Book of Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Book of Lamentations) and Nevi'im (the books of the prophets, used for reading the haftarah), and for Gittin divorce documents. In some communities, especially Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky's community in Bnei Brak, soferim also write the other books of the Bible, such as Psalms or Ezra.

Calligraphy and lettering

The first four letters of the Hebrew alphabet as they would be written scribally

There are many rules concerning the proper formation of letters if a written text is to be religiously valid. Some details on letters, with animations The Ashkenaz, Sefard, Chabad (Lubavitch), and Am Mizrachi each have their own script for forming the letters, though the same rules apply in all cases, much in the way that a font uses the same shape for letters but can diverge stylistically. Generally, regarding Sefer Torahs, none would consider the other posul, though they would each consider their own "highly preferable."

The four-pronged Shin on tefillin

.

The documents must be written on properly prepared parchment or vellum known as klaf.

Also many scribes function as calligraphers — writing functional documents such as marriage contracts, or ornamental and artistic renditions of religious texts — which do not require any scribal qualifications, and to which the rules on lettering and parchment specifications do not apply.

References

  1. ^ 82nd of the 613 mitzvot as enumerated by Rashi, and the final as it occurs in the text of the Torah, in Deuteronomy 31:19
  2. ^ http://www.sofer.co.uk/html/sources.htm
  3. ^ http://www.geniza.net/ritual/women.shtml
  4. ^ Tur, Orah Hayyim 271.

See also

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message