Halakha for scribes

Translations of some of the halakhic treatises that a sofer must know. The two major ones are complete; the ancilliary ones partially so.

Why translations?

A sofer has to know Hebrew, period. If you don’t know Hebrew, you’re not going to spot a mistake if you made it – and just so many other reasons. You need Hebrew. Don’t think that because these texts are here in English, you can skip out on learning Hebrew. You can’t.

That said, biblical Hebrew is a different thing from rabbinic Hebrew; rabbinic Hebrew uses a lot of vocabulary and idiom which aren’t so easy to pick up without being taught. There are people who know biblical Hebrew pretty well, but just don’t have the yeshiva tools to handle the halakhic texts because they’re in rabbinic hebrew, and don’t have the resources to get to yeshiva any time soon. These people want to do things as per the halakha, but the rule books aren’t accessible to them. I know that there are people who would keep the rules if they could only read them – these translations are for you. There are also people who want to learn the rabbinic idioms by studying these texts. The translations are for you too.

The Mishnah Berurah

R’ Yisrael Meir Kagan’s (19th century Poland) – his commentary to the 16th century Shulhan Arukh and R’ Moses Isserles’ contemporary glosses to same (inline in small text). The Hebrew text of the Mishnah Berurah is partly available online.

Mishnat Soferim, R’ Kagan’s additional treatise on laws of safrut, is also available here. The Hebrew text is found after siman 36 in the Mishnah Berurah.

The Keset ha-Sofer

R’ Shlomo Ganzfried. Pub. 1835 in Hungary. R’ Ganzfried is better known as the author of the Kitzur Shulhan Arukh. Links to buy online; download 3Mb PDF; download 36Mb PDF.

Translation note:

Rabbinic Hebrew doesn’t translate easily into fluid English; where the two conflict I have aimed for good English rather than strictly literal translation.

Rabbinic note:

Please use knowledge responsibly.

Ethical note:

Please note that I am putting these translations online to help those who want to learn about the laws of safrut. I am not putting them online to render them common property. I intend that rights to these translations remain mine. As such, if you profit by them – particularly if you use them in a context for which you are being paid – I ask that you make a suitable donation to the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. If you are just stealing my translations to bulk out your site, shame on you.

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