Hefsek Nikar le'hedya

What is the meaning of "Nikar le'hedya" [a crack in the letter that is obvious]?
What I am writing is not a chidush, just clarifiying an issue in hallacha that Dovid brought up last week, in regard to a tav that it's gag had a crack (turning it into a reish/dalet on the right, and nun on the left). [All illustrations given, are computer fixing/arranging on scans of mezuzus, and drawn to try examplify]

The source of this concept is from the Maharil quoted in BY – a ches that its chatoteres was separated, the Maharil says that if the hefsek (the break - separation) is le'hedya, it is pasul, {because it has seperated to 2 letters - 2 zayinim} and a tinok cannot be asked in this case, because a tinok doesn't recognize the ches [of stam] – and even a kosher ches (its chatoteres connected) in his eyes is 2 zayinim.
Both this psak, and the psak of Maharam (also quoted in BY) that letters that have cracks in them [exa. the yud of the alef was separated by a crack, from the guf of the alef] can be fixed, even sh'lo c'sidran because a tinok recognizes the letter and its tzura is obvious, so fixing it isn't csiva [writing the letter] sh'lo c'sidran, because the basic feature was written c'sidran – are quoted as hallacha in Shulhan Aruch.

Explaining the psak of the SA, both the SA Harav 32:30 and MB 32:122 (and elsewhere) explain that if the letter cracked resembling 2 other letters, for ex. a zadi [in BY csav] cracked at the connection of the yud, turning the zadi into nun and yud, it cannot be fixed, because the original letter [zadi] has lost its tzura, and is now 2 other letters [nun, yud]. 

Another exa. the tes has a crack at its base, dividing it into 2 letters nun and zayin.

But this pasul to the extent that it cannot be fixed, is only if it is Nikar le'hedya, but if the break is minor and isn't Nikar le'hedya, we may ask a tinok what he sees and act accordingly, so if he would say it is a zadi or tes we may fix them.
But in regard to the alef that was nifsak, even if the hefsek is Nikar le'hedya, still it may be fixed because a tinok recognizes the letter as alef.

Accordingly, Nikar le'hedya means – the change of the feature (shinuy tzuras ha'os) is obvious. Not that the crack is obvious.
Therefore although the same size crack in a alef is fixable, in the zadi or tes maybe isn't fixable, because we see them obvious as different letters.
The Biur Halacha 32:16 (ד"ה מכירם) adds that also in an alef if the hefsek is so big that it is obviuos to our eyes that the letter has lost its tzura, it is pasul and may not be fixed.

a. a letter that is obvious to our eyes (common sight) lost its tzura, isn't the original letter, and cannot be fixed shlo c'sidran.
b. a letter that has not lost its tzura, may be fixed. If we are in doubt if it has lost its tzura, should be asked a tinok.
c. there is basicaly no difference to which letter this has occurred, the difference varies from letter to letter and crack to crack in regard to the outcome. Does the specific situation fit category a, or b.

d. Maharil wrote (quoted in SA) that the ches since a tinok doesn’t recognize, is somewhat of an exception [not to the rule, but to the implication of shaylas tinok] - we follow our own sight to the best of our assesment, if the break is small, which therefore the ches is obvious and has not changed (to common sight) into 2 zayinim - may be fixed.

If the crack is big and in a place that obviously divides the ches into 2 zayinim - it may not be fixed.

If there would have been a doubt we would ask a tinok, but can't in this special situation because the tinok doesn’t recognize a ches at all.

I wrote this bekitzur to explain the hallacha according SAH and MB (this is the accepted opinion l'maase, although there are other opinions a bit machmir).


  1. The illustrations are to try to give an idea, not a psak on any picture.


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