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Monday, December 19, 2011

Minimum challal of letters

Elad pointed out a question that the challal of the mem is a problem. Indeed I think that if the majority of the challal of a mem or samech are blocked by ink, they are pasul as a shinuy tzura.
We find in Alfa Beisa that lechatchila the challal of the beis should be wide [hight] 1k, but doesn’t explain bdieved the minimum a challal may be. The Maharsham (vol. 7:112, 115) asked on a caf that its challal was very thin as a crack, he paskened that its kosher, since no shiyur in the letters challal are m'akev bdieved. I understand that the Maharsham would machshir also if the majority of the length [right-left] also was blocked [illustration 1], as long as this doesn’t constitute a shinuy zura.

But, see yalkut hasofer p. 65 pic. 127, in name of Me'asef l'chol Hamachanos that the caf that its challal was thin as crack is pasul.
I would think that the mem must have a full kulmus length of challal horizontal, less than 1k I doubt its kosher [illustration 3]. Also if it has a 1kulmus challal vertical alone [illustration 2]  I am in doubt if this is kosher. [In Osiyos Harav p. 230 par. dalet, I wrote that they are pasul].

I am also doubtful if a hai or tav [illustration 4. The illustrations of the hai & tav are wider than what I actualy mean!] are very thin, are they kosher, because they are lacking a correct challal. [Biur Hasofer p. 47, and yalkut pic. 61 writes that the hai is kosher, if the gag has 1k length. He doesn’t consider a problem at all in the measure of the challal].

But I have a proof that there is hallachicaly [l'ikuva] no measure in the challal of the letters, as the Maharsham wrote, from the psak of the Tur & Shulchan Aruch 32:15 if the letters hai or mem were preforated [after they were written properly, nikav afilu col challalam, see SA Harav there] and no klaf was left inside the letters, they are kosher [the minor opinion arguing, is only because the law of hekef gvil].
Now if the challal was a vital entity of the letter it would need a minimal shiyur, as the foot of the hai that was cut has a minimum shiyur - MOK. From this I conclude thare is no shiyur for the challal and even if lost completely doesn’t pasel the letter, obviously as long as the letter is recognizable.
So the conclusion should be l'hallacha, that a letter that has a minimal challal or its challal has been blocked partialy by ink, is dealt as a question on shinuy zura only.


  1. very nicely written.
    The chalal only has to be a kulmus lechatchila, but it does not pasul the letter unless it looks different because of it (if the gag is 2 kulmusim and the bottom is 1 kulmus and the middle is very thin, that may be pasul according to some opinions). I believe you could erase it in most cases and it would not be chak tochot. As a megiah, it seems you need to erase it a bit from the sides to make it more halachically acceptable.

  2. I wrote in Oisiyos Harav p. 182 that if the letter is kosher, you may erase the excessive ink and this isn't chok tochot [there I was refering to a challal atleast 1k, probably according to the conclusion here the same should be accepted].

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  4. Now I have found that the Shoel U'maishiv (vol.3 mahadura 3:122) wrote that a mem stuma that was almost totaly blocked and only a ma'shehu of the challal left, that it is a shinuy tzura.
    Interesting there he writes [what is known to the sofrim, but i didn't know that he wrote it] that any substance that can be removed from the letter by a finger, is proof that it isn't ink connected to the klaf, and isn't chok tochos.

    In Minhas Yitzhak vol. 9:5 writes [in name of Tshuvos Harei Besamim] also in regard to a caf that its chalal is quite narrow, and says it is kosher, and it is permitted to scrape the exccesive ink [only in regard to a shem he didn't allow fixing].

  5. reb moshe , is that with the nail of the finger or the fleshy part?

  6. It doesn't say there with what of the finger, but I think since the Shoel U'maisiv mentions "without using a knife or a pims [a kind of sharpening stone]" that even a regular fingernail, is not considered chok tochos.
    It makes sense!


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