Monday, December 21, 2009

Proofreading, part 7

Getting back to proofreading proper.

As we've heard, in order to encourage integrity of the text, we have a rule that even one wrong letter invalidates the entire Torah.

When you're writing 304,805 letters, you're bound to slip up on some of them. So, when you write a Torah, you proofread it extremely carefully, more than once, before you release it into the wild, as it were, and read from it.

Blotting wet ink

Here's a place where I was merrily writing along, wrote the wrong letter, and realised it at once. The ink was still wet, so I blotted off as much as I could with kitchen paper, that's why it looks grey and shadowy. Makes the erasing easier.

To fix this sort of thing, you need to let it dry and then scrape off the excess. But letting it dry takes a good fifteen minutes (if you try fixing it sooner you just rub it in and make it worse) and it's inefficient to sit about watching ink dry for a quarter of an hour. If you're writing tefillin or mezuzot, you've got no choice, you've got to fix it before continuing, but when you're writing Torah you can skip over the mistake and come back to fix it later.

Now we're in the proofreading stage, it's "later," and time to fix.

These pale-grey blotted ones are obvious – when you made the mistake, you realised it at the time, you blotted it, perhaps you made a note in pencil in the margin – these aren't difficult to see. The really taxing part comes next.

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