long vavim, very long vavim

In a comment to Dovids "large Vav on a small mezuzah", Beis hastam wrote:

"it is important to note the difference between vov and zein. mishna brura in letter zein writes not to make regel longer than 2 kulmusim, however in letter vov he writes not to make it "aruch miday".
when viewing old ktavim i always found "very" long vavs, i met with rav samson from london who pointed out the alpha baisa who explains why vavin should be written long. see page 264 in the new print."

I would like to comment on this issue, although I already wrote the basic point in "common problems in yudim" (especialy #3) above, and perhaps add a bit here, bezras hashem.

A. As explained in "common problems in yudim" there is a machalokes between the poskim, how to define the difference between yudin-vavin, zayinin nunin [and also yudin-zayinin, vavin nunin].
According to the Shulhan Aruch's [32:16] shita explained, the sole dimension is a shaylas tinok, it is simple - whatever is read correctly by the tinok, that’s what it is.
But according to Rema there is an additional measure required from these pairs, the yud is a dot, the vav and zayin are lines (osiyos pshutos), the nun an extending longer line. yud [guf] 1 kulmus, vav & zayin 1+2k, nun 1+3k. A letter that is out of its dimension (smaller or bigger) is not kosher. See there some of the nafka-minas.
I admit that from the MB& Biur Halacha's comments there (32:16) it seems that he holds that the Rema and Mechaber don't argue on this issue, so according to all, everything follows a tinok only. But that doesn’t automaticaly machshir a long vav, as I will explain.
Therefore a vav 4 kulmusim long [in regular script that the normal letter = beis is 3X3k] according SA&MB is kosher since a tinok will recognize it, but according to Rema is pasul because it deviated from its measure (foot being 2k, twice the shiyur of its head) turning into a nun-pshuta shiyur (foot3k).
B. The common thought that since a tinok will not read a very long vav as a nun, because the difference in their heads tzura, the nun being a zayin shaped, is in dispute.
This thought follows the opinion that a nun having a vav type head is pasul (see MB in Mishnat Sofrim 36 on nun: the Pri Megadim is in doubt צ"ע, but other acharonim pasel), but other poskim hold that bdieved a nun with a vav head is kosher (see Mikdash M'at on nun pshuta).
But basicaly as the Mikdash M'at writes there, this psul is in doubt, and he allows to fix the head of the nun even in Tfilin shlo csidran. This means a long vav is a nun [maybe pasul, maybe not], therefore it is pashut that a long vav, is definitly pasul for vav, since it turned into a nun pshta (even if a pasul one).
Evidence to this, is the Shaar Hatziyun (MS 36, on vav:2) in name of Chida (l'david Emes) that a vav as long as a nun pshuta is pasul – so, although a nun with a vav head is pasul according MB, still a long vav (long as a nun pshuta) is also pasul.
C. In practical terms after the argument between SA and Rema in regard to a long vav:
A long vav 5k is actualy a nun pshuta, and pasul even according MB (shaar hatziyun quoted).
A long vav 4k is pasul according to Rema since it is out of its shiyur, although a tinok will read it vav, but according SA&MB will only be a shaylas tinok (if obvious what the tinok will read, we don’t even have to ask, knowing what his recognition will be).
As I wrote in common problems in yudim #3 this argument, should conclude:
a. Not to accept lechatchila a long vav 4k, but to fix it (by adding some ink to its head changing the porportions of head-foot).
b. Bdieved one that wants to rely on the SA & Mb may do so, till a limit of close to 5k [I would be very skeptical to machshir 4.5k!], and as long as a tinok can recognize it as vav.
D. True that there is a kabala reason for lengthening the vav as Beis hastam quoted from Alfa Beisa p. 264 (at end), but there it says יכתוב הויו ארוכה מעט לפני רגל הה"א indicating a bit. That means an additional third of kulmus under the line, not more.
E. In summary what Beis hastam wrote according MB is correct, but there is a limit and not very long vavim!
F. I would add a very important point:
Lets say that in old csavim from Europe they accepted even lchatchila {very} long vavim, on the assumption explained - since it cannot at all be a nun pshuta. Today things are different!!
In old times what was kovea was the local custom/psak/shaylas tinok, which obviously varied from place to place as the Rosh writes in his tshuva (Tur YD Hilchos Sefer Tora), therefore in one communuty or country a vav would be kosher, and in another place would be pasul, because of these differences.
Today tefilin written in Eretz Yisrael by a sfardi sofer in ashkenazic csav, are immediatly sent and used {in two weeks time} in LA, London, Moscow….
The tinok today is not the standard yerushalmi child going to cheider in Mea Shearim or HarNof, but the normal jewish child everywhere! The csav today has to be accepted globaly.


  1. Thank you Reb Moishe very well written however I disagree that a vav of 4 kulmusim is posul(and I surely disagree to the post that a vav of 3.5 kulmusim is posul according to rema).The fact that the mikdash me'at allows to correct a nun with a vav head is not evidence that a long vav is a nun.The quote from shar hatzion quoting ledovid emes is correct however view the actual text in ledovid emes and the picture will change.
    "אם נמצא רגל הויו ארוך כמו נון פשוטה ואע"פ שראשה עגול מ"מ חיישינן שמא תינוק יקראנה נון ויהי' פסול"
    here is the link to find it online


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