STAM bits: Hamelech

There is a well-known custom to write Megilas Ester with every column starting with the word “Hamelech”. There is no authoritative source for this custom. The earliest known record of the custom is an admonition to Sofrim not to write “Hamelech” Megilos because it can be difficult to get the columns to fit without stretching and squeezing too many letters (which is always discouraged unless absolutely necessary). Today there are several popular layouts to write a “Hamelech” Megila without noticeably stretching and squeezing the text. It is worth noting that even in a “Hamelech” Megila, some of the columns do not start with “Hamelech” — including the first column (which starts with “Vayehi”), and all the columns from Aseres Benei Haman (which starts with “Ish”) until the end of the megila.

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