פורום בינלאומי לנושא סת"ם

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Ideal Aleph

I'd like to pose a conceptual idea that, even if some people don't get too involved as it's not completely practical, I think is important for STa"M anyway. I think there is value to determining the exact, perfect tzura of the otiot, even if it's not practical to hold written STa"M to that standard.

Mishnat Sofrim brings from Beis Yosef that the nekuda tachtona of the Aleph should be 1.5 kulmusim from the top of the body.

Traditionally I have always read explanations that describe this parameter as being the distance of the leg of the lower yud, as shown in the picture below (this is an aleph I've written previously, not for the purpose of this post so isn't geometrically accurate for this purpose).

My STa"M rav and teacher suggested that this poses two potential issues. In order to comply with this, since the width of the gag and the yud are both 1 kulmus then it would mean that the total height of the Aleph would be 3.5 kulmusim, which seemingly is not in line with the principle that the 'square' letters (eg beis, dalet, etc) should all be 3 x 3, here the Aleph would have to be bigger than the others. If you want to say that the Aleph is 3x3 but the lower yud protrudes lower that the guf by 0.5 kulmus, this then contradicts the gemara that the words of 'emes' stand on 2 legs.

My rav therefore suggests that the 1.5 kulmusim could be measured from the top of the gag to the beginning of the regel, shown below (again not to scale). This would a) solve the 3x3 issue and b) aligns more with the wording of the beis yosef that it should be distanced from the gag 1.5 kulmusim.

I would love to hear comments!


  1. ari
    thanks for bringing up this issue.
    bezras hashem i will comment on this, but time is running out before succos. i will probably have to delay these wonderfull issues, both that you brought and what i wrote in regard to the yud till after yom tov - maybe have some time during chol hamoed.

  2. yes, it does say in the "alfa-beisa" that the letters should be 3+3, however it also says there on the spot (in shiurey hakulmasim) beside for aleff, b/c the left regel should be a half a kulmus lower. (i did see that being done in ksav chabbad).
    btw. i like your aleff's

  3. Thanks for the comment Heshy, I have R' Chanin of HaSofer in Jerusalem to thank for teaching me.

    My point was that that is exactly the issue - if it says the left regel should be half a kulmus lower doesn't that contradict the gemara that states the letters of אמת stand on 2 legs, ie equal length?

  4. don't know how it fits with the gemara.
    also on the mem it says in "minchas soles"
    (ha'ara 155) that the chartum should be a drop lower than the chuf.
    (interesting that shulchan aruch harav and the keset do not mention to
    leave a kulmus and a half, and the mishnas hasofer brings in shar
    hatzion that most sofrim mumchim don't do it)
    i dont have the sefer o'sios harav with me but i do remember that r.weiner wrote alot on it.

  5. It seems that the BY (qouting Alpha Beisa) meant that although the basic structure of the letters are square 3X3 kulmusim, the foot of the alef (yud hatachtona) descends 1/2 kulmus - to keep a distance from the guf.
    In Osyos Harav p. 48-51 I wrote that the rishonum (Tikun Tefilin, R Yehuda Hachasid) had the connection of the regel to the face of the alef (see picture 41 there) and only later according to the girsa in Agur quoted in BY וידבק הרגל באמצע הגג changed the connection inward, and this has become the minhag of all sofrim since the BY time.
    putting together the possibility that the connection was at beginig of the guf and the kulmus and a half distance which causes the regel to go down, its quite obvious that although they all called the nekuda hatachtona a yud it was a bit wide [the Shla Hakadosh quoted in Osyos Harav p. 47 that the nekuda hatachtona is wider than the elyona, so that in comparison it resembles also a small dalet (hafucha)] and therefore it descends so to leave correct space (a kulmus) between the guf and nekuda hatachtona.
    the later custom as today to connect the nekuda inward and making the yud more yudish in width, more or less equal to yud haelyona doesnt need to go down, although it does cramp the space between nekuda hatachtona and the guf.
    In csav chabad it does descend at the left extremity of the nekuda a half kulmus lower than the guf, but the yud/dalet is slanted to keep it a bit aligned with the guf.
    In regard to the note to Chazal letters of אמת stand. one should understand this as a general outline of the letters that each one has 2 feet so therefore stand, but שקר has only one foot and cannot stand.
    If to exact this in the the alef of the BY the alef would be standing firm on its left foot only. in csav chabad even that wont go. therefore i think it is most meant to the general figure of the osiyos אמת that they stand well.


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