Mem-Pasucha and Mem-Stumah

I heard a kasha today from R' Shammai Gross that I wanted to share with the olam.

The tzura of a mem (both pasucha and stumah) is that of a chof and vav (only difference is the bottom) if that's the case why is it if someone writes a Mem-Pasucha with a chof and then a line (not with a tzurah of a vav) that it's pasul and can't add onto it (see Mishnas HaSofer) while by a Mem-Stumah if someone wrote a box and didn't put a small kav on the top left he would be allowed to add it on b'dieved. In both cases you are being m'sakain the "vav" so what's the difference

(I hope I have said over the kasha in the right way. Any mistake is mine and in a lack of understanding perhaps of what he was asking...)


  1. I also want to know ;)! Tzrich iyun. He told me it's a kasha of his and he doesn't have a good teretz yet. (We were speaking about a few things in regards to the ois Mem and mentioned to me this kasha...)

  2. The MEM Setuma as described by Yehoshua is kasher. It is not in the category of the regular MEM in which if it is missing the rosh is passul. The only reason that we add the rosh to the MEM setuma is so that it will resemble a regular MEM. (see Alpha Beta) Therefore, as this is not an initial requirement (because the letter has it's shape) we are allowed to add the ROSH on the left and it is proper to do so after the fact.

    A second reason is that the "VAV" like shape of the MEM setuma is not readily noticeable as a VAV. This is because it is one continuous stroke that is fused together with the ceiling of the KHAF like shape of the MEM.

    We find something similar to this with the shape of the DALET which we describe as two interlocking VAVIM. One VAV is defined by the foot and the heel on the top right, while the second VAV is defined by the roof and the oketz on the left. If any one or both of these, the heel or oketz which correspond to the head of the VAVIM, are missing, the letter is still valid. We can certainly add one or both because the initial (more primodial) valid shape is still there.

    The idea is that although we describe the MEM as KHAF and VAV this is just to give us a mental picture of it's approximate shape, and although we take it literally and write like this today, this wasn't always the case. I hope this helps.


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