Studying Mishneh Brurah Tav-Reysh-Tzadi-Alef with R' Ross Singer, my rabbi at Sha'arey Tefilah.
We've been studying the laws of writing and reading a Megilat Esther, partially for his own learning - he knows all about the reading part, just not the sofrut part - and partially for mine - as I know the sofrut part and not the laws pertaining to public kria.
We're going to have a public leyning of the brand new Megilat Esther I've written, by the men for the community the evening Purim comes in, then the next morning another public reading by the men for everybody, followed by the women reading for everybody! It's all very exciting for us to be practising our chanting for the first time! I've been honoured with reading Chapter 10, plus the after-blessing, B"H.
It's been both fun and fascinating. The speed and vocabulary of my Hebrew and Aramaic are both improving. One of the things we learned this week was that the Rama states, "It is our minhag (custom) to crown the letters (put tagin on them)". So there's a reliable Ashkenazi source supporting my crowning of letters, even though I'd already learned to do that from my Sofer and that if all the crowns in a Megilat Esther are omitted, it's still kosher. Also, the cheleq or piece of qlaf at the beginning & end of the Megilah, there's a maklokhet (difference of opinions) on that - "...but not to leave the cheleq basofah" - we're (Ashkenazim) careful to leave only the cheleq at the beginning, not at the end. Then in goes on to say that, "...the GRA (Vilna Ga'on) kvetches about this..." in other words, he disagrees and rules that a cheleq, or extra parchment not to be written on, must be left at both the beginning and the end of the Megilah. The Megilah qlaf I (ok - my Sofer) purchased has both, so that's good.
We also learned about the large Vav in "Va-yezata", the last of Haman's (BOO!) executed sons to be named in the amud (column). The Vav must be written "longer" says Mishneh Brurah, not "larger" as I have stated. Also, when the Megilah is leyned (chanted) on Purim, Mishneh Brurah states that one must lengthen the *sound* of that Vav as well - pronouncing it like "VVVVVVVVVVVayezata".
But it doesn't tell us why...
I *love* learning Torah!!!
Based on article originally published January 2004 at Netivat Sofrut
Copyright A. Barclay