More About Scrolls of Nevi’im

Hashamayim Kisi

Some communities read the haftaros from nevi’im written on scrolls of klaf.1 These nevi’im should preferably be stored in a separate aron kodesh that is designated for them, and not in the same aron kodesh as the Sifrei Torah.

According to the Gemara, scrolls of nevi’im should be mounted on one roller, unlike a Sefer Torah which is mounted on two rollers. The roller should be attached to the scroll at the end, so that the scroll is opened at the beginning.2

Multiple nevi’im can be written consecutively on one scroll, but there needs to be a space of three blank lines between each navi. New nevi’im are generally not written this way, but older sets of nevi’im were sometimes written with Yehoshu’ah and Shoftim (which are both relatively short sefarim) combined into one scroll.

The cost of a navi scroll is calculated based on its length, measured in amudim. A full set of nevi’im is 444 amudim long, which is almost as long as two Sifrei Torah. Acquiring a set of nevi’im involves a significant financial commitment, but there is no need to buy a complete set all at once. A community wishing to purchase nevi’im can buy one sefer at a time, building up to a full set over several years.

When planning the purchase of a set of nevi’im, from a practical perspective it is best to start with Yeshayahu. Although Yeshayahu is moderately long (53 amudim), it is read more often than any of the other nevi’im – over 20 times per year – and therefore offers the best value for the price. The next navi to consider is Trei Asar, which has the second highest length-to-usage ratio (46 amudim, and used 15 times per year). After a community has purchased those two nevi’im, there is no objective reason to prioritize any one navi over the others. The ratio of length-to-usage for all the other scrolls of nevi’im is roughly ten-to-one: Each navi is read approximately one time for every ten amudim of length.3 By way of example, Shoftim is 31 amudim long, and is read 3 times per year.

One final factor that needs to be addressed when planning the purchase of a set of nevi’im is the tikun used to write it. As mentioned in Tikun Ben Asher part 3, there are essentially two different versions of the tikun used to write nevi’im – Tikun Berditchev and Tikun Ben Asher. The differences between them are minor (mostly maleh & chaser and parshi’os), but these differences do affect the validity of the final scroll. Most contemporary poskim rule in favor of the Tikun Ben Asher, but it would be best to consult with a knowledgeable halachic authority early on in the planning process.

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  1. For a brief introduction to nevi’im written on klaf, see STAM 101: Scrolls of Nevi’im. ↩

  2. In spite of this ruling in the Gemara, most existing scrolls of nevi’im are mounted on two rollers. A possible explanation for this practice is that it facilitates pre-rolling the scroll to the proper place to prepare in advance for the haftara reading. ↩

  3. Yechezkel and Yirmiyahu have slightly better ratios, but still don’t approach the value of Yeshayahu and Trei Asar. A chart (in English and Hebrew) showing the exact ratio of haftaros to amudim for all of the nevi’im can be viewed at this link. ↩