Chapter 28

Writing and sewing Megillat Esther

1. The Megillah is to be written with ink, on gevil or klaf. All the lines must be scored, as for a sefer Torah. The hide does not need to be processed lishmah, although some say it does; it is proper to be stringent (Magen Avraham).

2. The rules for the letter forms, being surrounded by blank klaf, and ḥak tokhot are all just as for a sefer Torah; the custom is to add taggin as for a sefer Torah also. It is necessary to be precise about the spellings (although post facto this does not invalidate it, as we know that if the sofer omitted words from the middle and the reader supplied them from memory, the reading was valid. If one found an extra hey in “la-yehudim” after the vav – see 12:2), and the lines must line up straight down the egdes of the columns. One must write from a copy and say each word aloud before writing it, as for a sefer Torah.

3. One must leave enough blank klaf at the beginning to wrap around the roll. The custom is not to put it on rollers at either the beginning or the end.

4. All the paragraphs are setuma, and it is invalid if any of them are made petuḥa, although some say it is valid.

5. It is the custom in these lands to write the ten sons of Haman on a special page, with “Ish” at the beginning of the top line and “Ve-et” at the end, with a space between, and then “Parshandata” at one side, “Ve-et” at the other, and so on, with “Vayzata” at one side of the last line and “Aseret” and the end. One must elongate the vav of “Vayzata,” and its head is bowed, but straightened a little so as to slant upwards (Or Zarua, Peri Megadim) (and some say the reader should dwell on it).

6. The custom of writing the ten sons of Haman in big letters is not fundamental, as there is not an authoritative tradition to this effect. They do it because people generally write the Megillah in long columns, but the ten sons occupy only eleven lines and must occupy the whole column, so either one must leave a long gap at the bottom, or must leave large spaces between the lines, and so they write in large letters to fill up the column. There isn’t a received tradition for using larger or smaller letters in the other columns, but even so, this is different, because the ten sons are written in a special column by themselves, so we shouldn’t be troubled if this column is in large letters and all the other columns are in small letters. Nevertheless, if the sheets aren’t tall and the form of the column wouldn’t be adversely affected by his using an average-size script like in the other columns, it’s better to use average script (Sha-arei Ephraim, 6:55).

7. Where the Name is spelled out by the first or last letters of words, some scribes have the custom to make those letters larger. They should be discouraged from this, but it does not invalidate it, and it may be read from in all circumstances.

8. If a Megillah has vowels or musical notation, or has blessings or liturgical poems before the first column, it is not invalid, but one shouldn’t really put them in in the first place (Levush). If the reader doesn’t know the music very well, and there is no-one there who knows how, he may write the musical notation in or read it without music (Magen Avraham).

9. If a Megillah was written with the left hand, or by a woman or child, some say it is invalid and some say it is valid.

10. The sheets are sewn together with sinews as for a sefer Torah, and we leave an unsewn space at top and bottom as for a sefer Torah. If one doesn’t have enough sinew to sew the whole thing, it is valid provided he can make three threefold stitches in each seam. There are many different interpretations of “threefold,” so one must satisfy all of them: he must make three stitches at the top, and three stitches at the bottom, and three stitches in the middle, and one stitch in the fourth division on each side, and may sew the rest with linen.

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