STAM 101: White Space

The Gemara specifies the minimum amount of blank klaf that should surround the columns of text in Sifrei Torah and kisvei kodesh. Although the Gemara uses “fingers” as a unit of measurement, the approximate equivalent measurements for Sifrei Torah are 6 cm space above the text, 8 cm below the text, and 4 cm between the columns. For kisvei kodesh the margins can be smaller: 3 cm space above the text, 4.5 cm below the text, and 2 cm between columns. According to some opinions, the measurements listed in the Gemara are only for scrolls that are one cubit tall (approximately 48 cm), and therefore smaller scrolls can have proportionally smaller margins. The margins can be larger than these minimum dimensions, as long as the height of the column of text is greater than the combined height of the upper and lower margins. If the margins are too small or too large, the Sefer is not pasul, but it cannot be considered mehudar.

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