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Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

Over the years I have amassed quite a few books on Sofrut, but as one would expect the majority of the halachic texts have not been translated from the Hebrew. Below are a few of the useful sources I have gathered together, the Hebrew ones are at the bottom for the more adventurous amongst you.

613opt

Sofer - The Story of a Torah Scroll
Dr. Eric Ray, Torah Aura Productions, 1986.
Theoretically for children but good basic starter info for adults too! This book has marvelous pictures showing Eric Ray z”l, an American sofer at work at all the different stages, the materials used and a typical day for the scribe. It also shows all of the letter forms and gives a story for each of them.  Eric was very fond of stories and makes good use of them.

rayopt

The 613th Commandment
J. Simcha Cohen, Jason Aronson Inc. 1983.
 An analysis of the mitsvah to write a Sefer Torah. This is an obligation on every Jew and a king has to write two!  However very few Jews ever get to participate in this mitsvah though through completing one letter it is accounted as if you wrote the whole thing - hence the festivities around a siyyum.

guideopt

This is Torah
Alfred J. Kolatch, Jonathon David Publishers Inc. 1988.
A magnificent reference work which covers more than just sofrut. However it does include fantastic sections on writing the Torah and the Massoretic text with very comprehensive notes and references at the back.

Tefillin an illustrated guide
Moshe Neiman Feldheim Publishers, 1995.
How they are made, what they contain, how they are worn and all the pertinent laws. Includes excellent diagrams of the structure of the tefillin and descriptions of how they are put together.

this is torah
kaplanopt

Tefillin
Aryeh Kaplan
NCSY/Orthodox Union, 1975. Thought provoking analysis of the mistvah together with descriptions of how they are made and worn. A short and well-written introduction to the subject, though not as detailed as the book shown immediately above. This volume is also available in a anthology of Kaplan’s other work - all fascinating studies from a man who died tragically young.

wisdomopt

The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet
Rabbi Michael L. Munk, Artscroll, 1983.
The sacred letters as a guide to Jewish deed and thought. Meanings of the letters. Mostly a midrashic guide to the letters but some of the reasons scribal idiosyncrasies are explored and every letter draws a lesson from part of scripture. Covers many explanations from ‘Otiot d’Rabbi Akiva’, a useful midrashic source.

handbookopt

The Handbook of Hebrew Calligraphy
Cara Goldberg Marks
Jason Aronson Inc. 1990. The letter forms, modern calligraphy and a good section on k'tubot.

tikkun korin

Tikkun Kor'im
A tikkun for reading and writing the Torah and the megillah - a must have (though see below...)

brurah02

Mishnah B'rurah Volume I(B) - The laws of T'fillin
Chafets Chayim, Feldheim Publishers, 1992.
An English Translation of the Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah B'rurah with facing Hebrew. Also includes Mishnat Sofrim on the formation of the letters. Really the only English halachic guide except for the Soncino minor tractates (see below). Another must have!

mishneh torah

Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Tefillin u’Mezuzah v’Sefer Torah. Hilchot Tzitzit.
Maimonides (translated and with commentaries and notes by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger), Moznaim Publishing Corporation, Jerusalem 1990.  Excellent companion to the work above giving the Rambam’s opinion of the halacha as he understood it in clear Hebrew and English.  A good commentary with some diagrams and good cross references to other works. Also in the series Mishneh Torah on Hilchot Gittin.

mishneh torah gittin
mishnat hasofer

Chasdey David
A consise commentary on Mishnat Sofrim in Hebrew plus a summary of all the rules for a scribe in writing Stam.

chasdeyopt

Mishnat Hasofer
A modern Hebrew commentary by Ya'akov Meir Stern of B'nei Brak on the Keset Hasofer rules for a scribe by Solomon Ganzfried.  This is my main halachic guide.

worldofopt

The World of Tefillin & Mezuzos
Rabbi Zeev Rothschild, CIS, New Jersey 1987
Sort of an expanded buyers guide with warnings what to look out and how to ensure that you are fulfilling the mitsvah properly.  Also contains an entertaining narrative tale featuring the making of Tefiilin in story form.  Unfortunately, I believe this book is out of print.

Torah Shelemah - Leviticus Volume 29
Kasher, M M & Razhabi Yitshak, American Biblical Encyclodia Society Inc., Jerusalem 1978
Part 1 deals with whether the Torah was given in Ktav Ivri or Ktav Ashurit and the development of Hebrew script.  Part 2 is a comprehensive coverage of the scribal idiosyncracies, such as the nun hafucha or the various individual taggin as decribed in works such as Sefer Taggin, Machzor Vitri etc.  It is detailed and has many pages with examples of the texts form ancient times and the different traditions for writing the taggin.

torah_shelema
mishnat sofrim

A few more key Hebrew halachic sources that are available include:
Mishmeret Stam's commentary on certain key letters of the Mishnat Sofrim
Likkut Sifrey Stam
, a compilation of various halachic sources (two books possibly three)
Yalkut Tsurat Ha'otiyot, a compilation of all the halachic sources dealing specifically with the formation of the letters.

likut sifrey stam
bavli on megillah masechet

Sofrut is also covered in the Shulchan Aruch and the Talmud where there are also specific minor tractates (Masechtot K'tanot) - Sofrim, Sefer Torah. Tefillin and Mezuzah. Certain key sections in Shabbat (103b ff) and Menachot (29a ff) also warrant study and Megillah and Gittin. (see the Soncino Press Hebrew-English edition Ed. A Cohen, 1984) or the more modern Shottenstein Edition from Artscroll. 

student

Some more modern English publications include:
Hilchot Tefillin:Zichron Avraham David (The Sudent Edition of Halachos of Tefillin, Eider S., Feldheim 1985.
The marvellous and business like Tefillin and Mezuzos: A Pictorial Guide by Yerachmiel Askotsky (Targum 2003) showing how to choose, maintain and understand your STaM
Sefer Zichron Shoshana: Mezuzah a Comprehensive Guide, HoffmanY Israel Bookshop 2002 which gives a deep insight into this mitsvah and covers element of sofrut and a fantastic section on the types of klaf.

tefillin and mezuzot
shoshanat
maaseh

Turning to Hebrew again: B’ney Yonah by Landsofer has been reprinted and Melechet Shamayim is also available - two books that were prime sources for Keset Hasofer. And a fantastic modern book packed with photos of all the stages of production called Tefillin: Halacha uma’seh. Also a small volume on how to cut the perfect quill Sh’lemot b’hachanat hakulmus.
Shinun hasofer, Y’ri’ot Shlomoh, Otser STaM
(3 volumes), Mishnat hasofer, S’fakot hasofer and a five volume Tikkun Sofrim v’Korim by Davidovitch giving clues to line lengths and how you should space letters.

melechet shamayim
kulmus

All of which provide a wonderful view of the detailed  halacha of sofrut, ancient and modern.

b'ney yonah
tikkun sofrim
yeriot
shinun
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Care of your Torah - A Guide, Marc Michaels 2007.  A short 16 page guide written by a Sofer (scribe)to help Synagogues care for their Torah scrolls. With lots of useful tips and photographs showing many examples of what can make a Torah pasul (not kosher).

sfakot
tikkun sofrim 2
mishnat hasofrim
tikkun thumbnail02

Tikkun Megillat Hashoah, Marc Michaels 2007.  The authorised Tikkun (copyist's guide) for the Megillat Hashoah (Holocaust scroll). The full unpointed text with explanations of the visual midrashim and information about how the scroll came to be written and the importance of this new piece of liturgy. For use by scribes and readers.

Mordechai Pinchas

Click below to read a few poetical selections about scribes in Jewish Literature, or to participate in the answer back forum or to find out about Machon Melechat Shamayim a school for sofrut in Israel and a source of more materials for sofrut.

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