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Monday, November 14, 2011

The word בכור that the caf and vav are very close to another

We have learned that if a letter is cracked (at its connecting point) that might change it into 2 other letters, examples: ches cracked in chatoteres = 2 zayins, zadi = nun& yud, mem = caf&vav.
There are 3 situations.  A. If the hefsek is Nikar le'hedya – it is obvious to our eyes that the 1 letter has become the 2 correspondent letters, it is pasul and may not be fixed.  B. When the hefsek is not nikar le'hedya, and it is obvious to our eyes that the form is of the 1 letter, it is permitted to fix – because the tzura of the 1 letter is there and there isn't a new writing of the letter.  C. In a case of doubt a tinok shall decide what it is.
IE – the definition of this letter is what we see, and in a case of doubt what a tinok reads it.

Therefore if the chtoteres of the ches was cracked so that it is obviously 2 zayinim and not a ches, it is indeed 2 zayinim, and not a pasul ches! So, if the mem was separated between the caf and the vav, if the separation is obvious, it is in truth a caf and vav not a mem! and therefore may not be fixed in tfilin shlo csidran, because he will be writing a new letter. But if the crack was slight and it was obviously a mem, only it was pasul because the letter has to be 1 piece, still by definition it is a mem and therefore permitted to fix the mem, as explained.
In a case of doubt a tinok decides what the true letter/s is/are.

[A simple nafka mina should be: A sofer by mistake writing the word מזזות thought that he should write מחות intending to write a ches instead of the 2 zayins, but forget to connect the chatoteres of the ches, leaving a wide and clear separation between the 2 zayins, so we have the word מזזות indeed written.
I would say: Is this word kosher? Yes! These are 2 zayins as supposed to be, and not a pasul ches!]

Accordingly it seems to me pashut, that in the opposite case the ruling is exactly the same = if the 2 zayins of mezuzos are so close to each other that (if being a ches they would be permitted to be fixed) they are indeed a ches and not 2 zayinim, although there is a slight crack in between them.
So, in the word בכור that the caf and vav are very close to each other they are actualy a mem, so the tfilin are pasul, because separating them is chok tochos. If the situation is in doubt, a tinok will decide, are they caf&vav or mem.

But it seems the Gidule Hekdesh (32:31,33) is in doubt what is the psak in this case.
In Shut Maharshag (Rabbi Shimon Greenfeld, Hungary, early 20th cen) 1:3 he paskens on this specific case that although if needed we would follow a tinok in the case of a [crack in the] mem, but in the opposite case that the caf and vav are very close since we see they are not touching it is obvious to us that it is kosher we are not concerned what a tinok may read.
Sheivet Halevi vol5:8 also accepts Maharshag's opinion, lehakel.
I must admit I don’t understand the logic to their psak.


  1. From the wording of the Sheivet Halevi ibid, "that it would seem to all bar daas that it does look like two letters [(even though to the tinok he would read it as a mem)] we do not pay attention to the tinuk to be machmir". The Sheivet Halevi concludes that since everything was written according to halacha only that the space was not widened enough, certainly notah daas lehakal.
    This all fits with what I wrote in The Havchonos Tinok post, that the whole concept of havchanos tinok is a kula (as opposed to out right posuling) we would apply that idea as well in this case. As we know that even for havchanos tinok we are very lenient (ex. showing him a doutful ה next to another ה- allowing the tinok to possibly machkim).

  2. This problem that I wrote about בכור is much more common in the word מזזות or מזוזות that the zayinim or zayin vav, because of their tagim/kotz of vav are so close, that they are a (ches which is permitted to connect) so how can they be a kosher vav/zayin or zayin/zayin.


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