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About Sofrut Nation

A College of Jewish ritual scribal arts for women.

This page is currently under construction, but is regularly expanded and refined. Thank you for your patience.

Glossary of Terms:

Atzey Chayim — Wooden rollers which Sifrei Torah and sometimes Megillot are sewn to with gidin. Literally, “Trees of Life”.

Avaq – אבק — Writer’s sand or powder used for drying ink. (Shab. 12:5)

Bet D’yo (or Qeset) — Ink well or horn; literally, “house of ink”.

Bursaki — Kosher hide tanning house.

Charitz — The split in the centre of the nib of the qulmus. This allows d’yo to flow from the qulmus to the q’laf.

Duchsustus — Type of kosher animal parchment which is ideally what a Mezuzah is to be written on; from the non-qlaf layer of the animal’s split skin; no longer permitted for use in sofrut production, as there has been a long dispute over which part of the split hide is q’laf & which is duchsustus. Therefore, the hide is no longer split but the entire skin is turned into parchment.

D’yo – דיו — ink.

Gevil (or Gewil) — Kosher animal skin prepared with salt, flour and mey afatzim, resulting in a soft, buckskin-like texture. Typically made from deer skin by observant Sefardi or Mizrachi Jews. The top side of non-split hide is considered the ideal parchment required in the Talmud for Sefer Torah, and is also referred to as gevil/gewil.

Gidin — Heavy, coarse thread used to sew yeri’ot together and atzey chayim to yiri’ot. Made from processed, dried veins found in the hind-quarters and/or foot muscle tendons of a kosher animal.

Halakhah – הלכה –- Jewish Law.

Itur – עטור — Scribal omission of certain letters from a text.

Izmel (or Ta’ar) — knife used to cut parchment. Originally made from flint, since the advent of precious metal plating, these knives are now made from steel plated with gold or silver so as to obey the ruling to not allow base metals to come into contact with parchment to be used for STaM.

Kabbalah – קבלה –- Jewish mysticism.

Kankatum — Vitriol; copper or ferrous sulfate.

Kasher (or Kosher) – כשר — Appropriate, or fit.

Ketarim (or Taggin) — Projections crowning certain letters in the shape of a tiny letter Zayin. The acronym for these seven letters, Shin, Ayin, Tet, Nun, Zayin, Gimel, & Tzadi spells “shatnez gatz”.

Mey Afatzim — Gall-nut water; water containing reproductive residue typically from the Oak Gall Wasp (Cynips quercusfolii).

Mezuzah – מזוזה — Scroll of qlaf upon which are hand written specific verses from the Torah with d’yo. It is a positive non-timebound commandment for every adult Jew to affix a Mezuzah to his or her door posts. Plural: Mezuzot – מזוזות

Mosheykh Be-sheyvet Sofeyr – מושך בשבט סופר — “Wielding the scribal rod”.

Mukefet Gevil — The requirement that all letters in a Sefer Torah, Tefilin, or Mezuzah bust be surrounded by parchment on all sides. (Talmud Menachot 29a)

Musar — Jewish ethics.

Olar — Knife of any metal used for cutting reeds or quills for use as a kulmus. (Kel 12:8, Tosef, Kel BB 7:12)

Pasul – פסול — Unfit, unuseable, invalid, inappropriate. Such documents & manuscripts are stored away in a geniza so they are not mistakenly used.

Qeset (see Bet D’yo) – קסת — Ink well or horn.

Q’laf (or Qelaf) – קלף –- Kosher animal skin prepared from a certain layer of gevil, typically by observant Ashkenazi Jews, from the non-duchustus half of the split hide.

Qulmus – קולמוס –- Writing implement generally made into a quill from a kosher feather by Ashkenazi Jews or a stylus from wood or bamboo by Sefardi or Mizrachi Jews.

Safrut/Sofrut – ספרות/סופרות –- Jewish ritual scribal arts.

Sargel — Tool used to score or impress guidelines into parchment. Can be made from a reed, a rose thorn attached to a wooden dowel, or a bone from a kosher animal. (TJ. Meg. 1:11 & 71d. Sof. 1:1)

Sefer – ספר — Holy book or scroll.

Sid – סיד — Sofrut “white out”.

Sirtut — Necessary, straight horizontal & vertical lines engraved into kosher parchment a guidelines to write.

Sofeyr – סופר –- Male Jewish ritual scribe.

Soferet – סופרת — Female Jewish ritual scribe.

Ta’ar (see Izmel) – תער — Parchment & quill cutting knife.

Ta’ut – טעות — Copying error.

Yiri’ot — Sheets of parchment.

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