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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 102)
מסעיף לו עד אמצע הסעיף ובמדינות אלו

The Meaning of Parsha Pesucha and Parsha Setuma According to the Rambam
The Meaning of Parsha Pesucha and Parsha Setuma According to the Rosh
The Customary Practice

The meaning of 'parsha pesucha' and 'parsha setuma' according to the Rambam

The paragraphs in the Torah are divided by spaces of at least nine letters' width. There are two types of paragraphs - pesuchos (open) and setumos (closed).  If the wrong style is used for a particular paragraph, the stam is pasul. According to the Rambam, a pesucha always starts at the beginning of a new line. If the previous line ended with fewer than nine blank spaces, the sofer must skip a line and begin the new paragraph at the start of the following line. A setuma, on the other hand, never starts at the beginning of a line.  Either there are nine (or more) spaces before it on the same line, or it is indented somewhat on a new line if the requisite space appears at the end of the previous line.

(ס"ק קנה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 186)



The meaning of 'parsha pesucha' and 'parsha setuma' according to the Rosh 

According to the Rosh, a pesucha is a parsha which begins after a nine (or more) letter gap at the end of the former line or a similar gap the beginning of a line, such that one side of the gap touches "open space" at the edge of a column. A setuma is a parsha which begins after a "closed-in" gap, one which does not meet the edge of a column and instead is surrounded by writing at both ends of it. The Rosh adds that if one parsha concludes right at the end of a line and the new parsha begins immediately after skipping a line [without an indentation], the new parsha is considered setuma.  In this case, the blank line between the parshiyos is viewed as a gap that occurs in the middle of a line, "surrounded" by writing immediately before and after it.

(ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 186)



The customary practice

The parshios of Kadesh, V'haya ki yeviacha and Shema are all pesuchos when written in the Torah. The parsha of V'haya im shemoa is a setuma in the Torah. According to most Rishonim and the Mechaber, these parshios must be written for tefillin in the same manner that they appear in the Torah and are pasul otherwise. There is an opinion that one can write V'haya im shemoa as a pesucha. A second opinion (supported by the Rama) permits the writing of V'haya im shemoa as a pesucha b'dieved, since it does not appear near the parsha of Shema in the Torah. Indeed, there are many pesuchos between them.  If V'haya im shemoa was written in a mezuzah as a pesucha, all agree that it is kosher. There is an opinion which holds likewise about tefillin - i.e. that it is kosher according to all, at least b'dieved.

(סעיף לו וס"ק קנו-קנט; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 187)



  • The columns of sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzah should have even sides. Many Rishonim write that there should not be three or more letters, or a whole word of two letters, extending into the margins. According to the Rambam, it is permissible to have three letters in the margin as long as they comprise less than the majority of the word.
  • For the purpose of zeh keli v'anvehu-beautifying the mitzva -- the margins should be totally clear.
  • The rules about writing Hashem's name in the margin are stricter. No part of Hashem's name or its auxiliary letters (e.g. nun vav of E-lokeinu) may extend into the margin.





  • The Ashkenazic and Sefardic customs about pesucha and setuma

  • Measuring the space of nine letters

  • Indenting the first line according to the Rambam