Monday, April 19, 2010

How Does Our Klaf Measure Up?

I took all the relevant measurement of our klaf so that I could order the printed text to use as a guide, as noted in the previous blog entry.

Our klaf is comprised of four separate pieces that will eventually be sewn together. The first three pieces are scored with four columns each, for a total of 12. Theses columns are each 16 cm wide and cm 28 cm high. There is a space of 2 cm between the columns. Each column is scored for 28 lines of writing; each such line is .5 cm high with a .5 cm space between the lines. The fourth sheet begins with a clumn that is a bit wider - 19 cm - and that is scored for the names of the ten sons of Hamen, which are written in their own column. There are three additional columns scored on this piece that are each 12 cm wide.

The printed guide is rather expensive, but I know we need one. Happily, before ordering it, I discovered that Bais Abraham's Megillah, which happens to be at our house now (since Purim, when Jack read it at the house for some people who couldn't make it to shul), has the exact same format, so I will xerox it and we will have our own guide at a fraction of the cost.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nibs and Guides

Today I purchased from the sofer in Israel who sold us the klaf, 10 plastic nibs -- plastic and not metal as using metal, a material from which weapons are made, for writing a Megillah is frowned upon.

More importantly, I learned from the sofer just how beginning scribes write a Megillah. Pages of a printed Megillah are purchased with the text printed in the exact size and format, column by column, line for line, to match the scored klaf. The sribe then places the sheet on the klaf and copies it line by line, folding the sheet as he -- or in our case, she -- writes each line. The sheets even have fold lines on them.

Becasue I do not have the measurements of the width and length of the columns and of the width of the lines on our klaf, I could not order the sheets now, but will do so once I return home from Israel and take the measurements. I will order sheets for a "HaMelech" format - where each column begins with the word "HaMelech."

I also learend that there are two STA"M scripts, Ashkenaz and Sefardi, with the Sefardi script being simpler, so that will be the one we use.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


As I make this first entry to the blog, the St. Louis Women's Megillah Writing Project is already underway. This project is the joint venture of approximately ten Orthodox women in St. Louis, Missouri, to write a complete, and of course Kosher, Megillat Esther. Most of us are already calligraphers (to varying degrees), but none of us know STA"M at this point.

Steps taken to date:
Identifying the women who hope to participate.
Purchasing our klaf (from a sofer in Israel).
Learning as a group, with Rabbi Hyim Shafner, some of the halachot of
writing a Megillah.
Finding someone local to teach us STA"M, and the practical halachot of
writing a Megillah.
Purchasing ink, gid (sinew thread used to sew the parchment pieces
together), and parchment scraps for practicing.

We hope to begin actual classes in STA"M in a few weeks, and we hope to have a finished Megillah, with God's help, in time for Purim 2012. After some research, I thought that this might be the first Megillah written by Orthodox women in modern times, but I was recently told that a group of Orthodox women in Nachlaot, Jerusalem, have written one -- something to be checked out.

I hope to blog the process from here on in, step by step, with photos too. We have documented on video, the classes with Rabbi Shafner, and when I get to be a more experienced blogger, I will incorporate clips into this blog.

As part of this project, I have translated into English Chapter 28 of Keset HaSofer, the chapter that deals with the laws of writing (and sewing) a Megillah. Now to figure out how to attach it to this blog . . . . I hope to eventually collect here translations of the Shulchan Aruch, the Rambam, and other primary sources on the topic, as well as of the Lishkat Hasofer, a commentary on Chapter 28 of Keset Hasofer.