1800s Sefer Torah - Funny Alef, Hole in Klaf

I came across this Sefer Torah for sale on ebay (sadly). The seller states that it was written in the mid 1800s in Europe, and eventually came to Eretz Yisrael with other rescued Torah Scrolls, which, based on the photos, seems accurate.

Two interesting things caught my eye:

1) The Alef at the bottom of the column is stretched out in a very strange way, which seems to me to be a shinui tzurah:
click to enlarge

Here's a larger photo of the area in question. Also note the alef at top left. The bottom alef appears to be an exaggerated version of the alef on top:
click to enlarge

And here's the alef out of context. I think it would fail a shaylas tinok, and at first glance out of the corner of my eye, it appears like the word "af", almost like it's an alef-fey ligature:

Here I've digitally made a break in the letter, illustrating what looks almost like an incomplete alef and an incomplete fey:

If he would have made the gag of the alef a straight diagonal, as in the following digitally altered copy of the above alef, it would have the tzurah of an alef: 
It would seem to me that the sofer erred in his understanding of the basic shape of the alef. When he wrote his regular size alefs, he curved the gag a little, as many sofrim do, which forms a perfectly fine alef in regular size. I think his error was in assuming that the curve was supposed to turn into a flat line on top. In so thinking, he naturally assumed that he could just drag out the top to stretch out the letter.

2) Unlike today, in the past they didn't have the luxury of wasting klaf just because it had a hole in it. Here there was a hole in the klaf, so the sofer made an extra thin column, and then an extra wide column in order to write around the hole (enlarge the photo to see it well). He also stretched a number of letters at the top, presumably in order to make the pesucha properly. (The thin column passes the "limishpichoseichem" test.):
click to enlarge
Here's the listing: http://www.ebay.com/itm/THIS-SEFER-TORAH-AWSOME-HAARI-ZAL-ASHKENAZI-KABBALIST-WRITING-TO-YR-ROSH-HASHANA-/140797848965?pt=Antiquarian_Collectible&hash=item20c834ad85&_uhb=1#ht_11225wt_1270
And here's more high quality photos: http://www.auctiva.com/hostedimages/showimage.aspx?gid=1047454&image=589251723&images=589253080,589251723,589251674,589251632,589251581,589252628,589251540,589251390,589251503,589251441,589252861,589252814,589252765,589253013,589252993,589252909,589251353,589253052,589252699,589252948,589252585&formats=0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0,0&format=0


  1. the extended alef issue as you give here is found in the later melaktim, it seems their concensus is shaylas tinok unless the guf [center line] of the alef is a clear reish.

  2. In terms of this stretched alef, it would suffice to do m'chika on the alef and tzadi. Next, break the tzura of the hey and extend the gag to where you could re-write the tzadi and alef in proportion with proper tzurah.

    Overall this Torah probably needs a thorough b'didka. It appears that the upper-yud on this alef is brown and I'm sure that there are other letters in similar condition.

    Also check closely for issues with tzura on letters such as mem-sofit and samach - I was priveleged to receive a pre-WWI era Torah that was in similar condition. The work needed to restore it is extensive and I think that it's better to know exactly what work is required on all levels to make it kosher.

    Bracha v'hatzlacha!!

    1. Why should it be necessary to to touch the tzadik and hey at all? Why not just re-write the alef as in my example?

      We don't write an alef like that any more, that's true, but wouldn't it be better to do it that way than to ruin two perfectly good letters?

      Bracha Vihatzlacha to you, too, thanks!

  3. Great post. Thanks for sharing this. I will show it to R' Shammai when he comes back from vacation...

    1. You're welcome.

      Did you show it to Rav Shammai yet?

  4. He doesn't claim that it's kosher. Perhaps he's assuming that people will think it is?
    A Sefer Torah with such a history, background, etc mistama should be checked first, no?


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