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Chapter 24: 1-2
Error in a Torah Scroll

1. If a disqualifying factor resulting from a serious scribal error is discovered in a Torah scroll, we may not continue reading from this scroll, and another one must be taken out.(Chapter 79, Law 10.)

What constitutes a serious scribal error? The inclusion of an extra letter, the omission of a letter, or the substitution of one letter for another in a manner which changes the pronunciation of the word - e.g. writing "Tumim" [Taf-Vav-Mem-Yud-Mem] rather than "Teumim" [Taf-ALEF-Vav-Mem-Yud-Mem] or Migresheihen [ending with Nun] rather than Migresheihem [ending with Mem]. Even though the meaning is the same, since the pronunciation differs, it is considered a serious error.

Similarly, an error is considered serious if it changes the meaning of the word, even though one can pronounce the word as it should be written. For example, the portion of Terumoh [Exodus 25:10] states: Amma vaCheitzi Ruchbo [Resh-Ches-Beis-Vav]- "Its width is a cubit and a half." Were a scroll to have written: Amma vaCheitzi Ruchbah [Resh-Ches-Beis-Hey] the error [causing the word "width" to be in the feminine gender,] changes the word's meaning. Hence, this would be considered a serious error, despite the fact that one could read the beis with the vowel sound of a cholom, so that the pronunciation of the word would not necessarily be altered.

However, if the error is one which does not change pronunciation or meaning of the word, it is [not considered to be "serious"] and another Torah scroll need not be taken out. For example, the word avosam should be written with a vav after the beis: if it were written as avosam [omitting that letter], or vice versa [i.e., a word should be written without the vav, yet the vav is added].

Similarly, [it is not considered a serious error] if a word should have been written with a formative yud - e.g., Avosaichem [Alef-Ves-Saf-Yud-Chof-Mem] - and it was written without the yud, Avosaichem [Alef-Ves-Vav-Saf-Chof-Mem] or vice versa. Errors of this like* [do not disqualify a scroll], because our Torah scrolls are not so exact that we can say [for sure] that one is more accurate than the other.

* {The same also applies if letters that should be written larger than usual - e.g. the daled of Achad in the Shema - or smaller than usual - e.g., the alef of Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1) - are written of average size (Mishnoh Beruroh 143:27).}

However, if a word is lacking a yud which is part of the word's root, [the error is considered serious and] another Torah scroll must be taken out. For example, instead of [Genesis 21:17]: Mah lecha hager al tirei (the word tirei was spelled taf-reish-alef-yud without the yud. Similarly, if in (Genesis 15:10): Al tira Avraham (the word) tera is written taf-reish-alef (omitting the yud), the Torah scroll is disqualified. (In both cases the omission of the yud changes the meaning of the verb form "fear" to "see.")

2. The following are also considered "serious errors" which require another scroll to be taken out:

a) a word is written in a manner in which it appears* to be divided into two;

* { The determination of whether it appears as one word or two is made by showing it to a child who knows how to read, but does not comprehend the words he is reading. See Law 5.}

b) two words are written so close together that they appear as one;

c) an extra word is included. This applies whether the word is entirely out of place or whether the word is entirely out of place or whether one word was repeated.

d) the sections were not divided in the proper manner - i.e., a section that should have been "open" was written in a "closed" manner or a section which should have been "closed" was written "open"; or

e) a section was divided in a place where it should not have been, or a division between sections was omitted.

   Error in a Torah Scroll
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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.



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