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Monday, October 17, 2011

What ktav is this?

Moadim l'simchah chevreh!

(I have edited this post because the pictures did not come out clear the 1st time)

can any chabadniks on this forum possibly identify what type of ktav this is? I checked it for a chabad family who bought these mezuzot from a chabad sofer in the USA. Frankly, I was very dissapointed with them. I have seen chabad ktav before but this seems really poor - unlike anything I have ever seen in ktav chabad which is normally very beautiful. every mezuzah had many letters were nifsak, like the upper yud of alef was not connected to the gof. Clearly they had not been checked before sale. Also the klaf was unusual and not good quality.

I put 2 of these mezuzot aside because i am not a chabadnik and i was wondering if there is any special leniency from a chabad outlook with regard to 2 of the mezuzot. First (picture 1) there was an extra word (uvechol). Normally I would not bother to scratch it out because it would leave a space of 9 yudin which would be also passul. My rav is against putting holes in the klaf so I don't do this. what is the chabad view on this?
Second, (picture 2) there is a long vav which I find unacceptable. Some opinions say a long vav cannot be a problem if its at the begining of a word, since it cannot be a nun pshuta. What is the chabad view on this?

Thanks for your help!


  1. 1) Isn't the mezuza pasul as long as the extra word uvchol isn't scratched out?

    2) Biur Hasofer brings a number of sources that support both a long vav being pasul due to looking like a nun and being kosher (ie no issues with it being longer). He says that in his opinion one should ask a tinok unless it really mamash looks like a nun, in which case it's definitely pasul. To me this looks like the length of a nun. Maybe it depends on the other nunim of the same ktav?

  2. Hi Nachman,

    This is indeed Ksav Chabad, although it is "Zirkind Style" which differs greatly to many of the Ksav Chabad styles you would have seen in Israel.

    From the first picture, it looks like Rabbi Clapman's ksav, but from the second picture its hard to tell. (Rabbi Clapman is one of Rabbi Zirkind's talmidim, most of whom are based in the USA).

    Rabbi Zirkind and his talmidim have a certain outlook which differs to many others writing Ksav Chabad (and other k'savim for that matter). For instance, Rabbi Zirkind does not hold of "mehudar" as a concept in Stam. He says there is no source for "beauty" in writing stam. He says it says "uchsavtem" and not "utziyartem" which means one should write "normally", without the need to write asthetically beautiful letters.

    Furthermore, Rabbi Zirkind has many halachic opinions which (by his own admission) differ greatly to those of the mainstream rabbinate. For example, he does not hold of "Lechatchillah" or "Bedieved" classifications (and certainly not "Mehudar"). Either it's Kosher K'din or it's not. Also, he does not recognize breaks in letters (or holes) unless they can clearly be seen from a distance of one amoh or greater (which explains the nifsakim you saw in the mezuzos). There are many other differences which are too lengthy to explain in this post.

    Rabbi Zirkind has many chumros, such as he makes his own parchment and ink.

  3. Concerning the heads of the א that were Nifsaf, this was probably nifsaf after time (I am sure the mezuzahs are a few years old) which are allowed to be fixed. (possibly one would need a tinuk to say it is an Aleph first).
    Concerning the extra word this is clearly unacceptable, I never heard that Chabad has some specific rule with putting holes, I would assume it depends on the case and the person (whose mezuza is being checked).
    To my opinion the ו is too long and is posul.

  4. rav Eli i have just read your post and thanks for explaining. if this rav has so many chumros why sell mezuzot without checking first? a simple computer check would have caught the mistake. I have not heard of anyone selling mezuzot today without a computer check as per instruction of gedoley hador.

  5. rabbi weiner wrote in part #3 that a long vuv (3 and a half kulmasim) according to ram"a is not a shailos tinok but pasul. (i can't really tell the shiur from the picture)

  6. Perhaps this is a case of Biur Hasofer (ס' ה, אות וי"ו דיבור המתחיל ורגלה ארוך) being meikel because he clearly does not say that it's outright pasul, unless it's mamash very long like a nun?

    The vav in the picture seems to have a regel of 3 kulmusim. I'm not saying it's not pasul (I think it is), I'm just saying you could find sources that would possibly be machshir.

  7. I personaly dont hold from making holes in tefilin or mezuzot to take up the space of a revach parsha, for at least 2 reasons (if anybody interested i can write about that??!), therefore i would advise this lubavitcher definitly to change the first mezuza.
    The second picture (a long vav) is definitly pasul, no question at all!! it is longer than 4 kulmusim, and it is according to many poskim a kosher nun pshuta!!

  8. nachman thank you for posting this

  9. Thank you Rabbi Moshe,

    I would appreciate if you write the 2 reasons why one should not make holes.

    Of course, I find that Sofrim make them often, so I would not be machmir bidieved, while checking a Mezuzah or Tefillin where there were holes put in by a previous Sofer.

  10. reason 1: this is a heiter of Gan Hamelech quoted by R. Akiva Eiger in YD hilchot sefer tora, and is not agreed by all. Other poskim say that it doesnt help to eliminate the revach.

    reason 2: according to Shulhan Aruch Harav and many poskim, a hole that is not visible clearly to the eye is not a nekev in regard to mukaf gvil (SA Harav 32:17) even lehachmir, Kal vechomer tiny nekavim (needle points) that many sofrim do are not nekavim at all and the revach of a parsha is still there!!
    Although I agree to you that if already done we cant be machmir on others, but check carefuly that the holes are big and clearly visible (most sofrim pinpoint only so as not to make the klaf ugly).
    Dovid if you have more interest in this issue, i can continue these points.

  11. Reason 2, according to the Shulchan Aruch Harav it is understood that a tiny almost invisible hole would not help, however if there was a great need to make one, one cannot be lenient to make a visible hole? True it would not be Lechatchila (according to reason 1) however the sofer could inform the person, if they want it or not. Please continue on these points.

  12. I meant that the hole/s would have to be clearly visible, so that it would not be able to write there. Otherwise it is kosher klaf to write on that place, so the extra space is a revach parsha. Now, most sofrim that i saw make tiny holes which even according to Gan Hamelech and R Akiva Eiger dont fix the issue, so this practice turned into a מכשול.

  13. Nachman, are you sure in what you wrote:
    "Some opinions say a long vav cannot be a problem if its at the begining of a word, since it cannot be a nun pshuta."
    I never heard such an opinion?!
    Maybe you meant the argument of the acharonim (see Gidulei hekdesh clal 14:6) about a shaylas tinok, in our case because the tinok wouldnt think it a nun pshuta because its not at the end of the word, so therefore a tinok cannot judge objectivly.
    But that isnt lehakel but to be machmir, that a tinok is not reliable in such a case, because the odds arent equal in his eyes. Not to allow this letter to be a vav against its appearance as a nun!


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