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Torah Scroll - Layouts

The specific placement of text within Columns and Lines.

Layout Standards: Number of Columns and Number of Lines per Column

The parchment for the Torah Scroll begins as a “blank slate” – awaiting a Scribe.

Torah Scrolls have varying standards regarding the number of Columns and the number of Lines per Column. One Modern standard uses 245 Columns with 42 Lines per Column – and this is the standard for this website and for the “Torah Scroll Column Reference Guide”©.

Once the standard to be used for a new Torah Scroll has been confirmed, the parchment can be viewed as a Grid onto which the words for the Columns and Lines will be fitted.

Scribes use rigorous standards to ensure the accuracy and integrity of their work.

Usage of "White Space"

Text within the Torah Scroll is left and right justified within each column, with spacing between words.

Spacing Approaches:

  • Between Books - There are 4 Blank Lines between each Book. Columns: 61 (Between Genesis and Exodus); 111 (Between Exodus and Leviticus); 148 (Between Leviticus and Numbers) ; 200 (Between Numbers and Deuteronomy)

  • Open – Petuhah - Space at the end of the line. Examples include Columns: 1, 2, 12

  • Closed – Setumah - Space in the middle of the line. Examples include Columns: 3, 5, 8

  • Special Spacing - Used for certain portions of Poetry – Columns: 78, 242, 243

  • None - Many Columns do not contain Open or Closed or Special spacing. Examples include Columns: 7, 18, 19

Example of the usage of Open and Closed spacing:

Example of spacing for a Column containing Poetry:

Example of a Column that does not contain any Open or Closed spacing (center Column):

Using Layout to your Advantage

Returning to the concept of a Grid Pattern – not only for the Scribe – but for you as a reader . . .

Consider that the Column containing your reading has a specific “Grid Pattern” regarding usage of space – Open space at the end of one or more lines, and/or Closed – Space in the middle of one or more lines. Memorize the pattern for the Column(s) that you will be reading.

Becoming very familiar with the spacing for these Columns gives you an advantage – so that at a glance you will know if the Scroll is rolled to the appropriate Column for your reading.

If your Column has no white space, then memorize the first few words on Line 1 of your Column, so at a brief glance you will know if the Scroll is rolled to the appropriate Column.

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