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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

3 Questions About Taggin

I was checking an older sefer torah (probably about 60 - 80 years old) and noticed that whereas the Ksav is rather nicely written (aside from the missing Kotz Rabbeinu Tam), a significant amount of the taggin had faded. I assume the taggin were added later and with an inferior ink.

1) Upon closer inspection, it is clear that some of the taggin (mostly the left tag of the Shatnaz Gatz letters) never contacted the letters at all. When you have an entire sefer in which vast amounts of taggin were written this way, what is the best course of action to take?
Computer designed illustration
of a faded tag that misses the letter.
2) When attempting to darken light taggin, it's often difficult to be accurate. Sometimes when darkening a tag, the kulmos slightly misses the original tag. After writing the new tag, the old tag, in comparison, is not visible at all, yet clearly it must still be there. Is there any chashash that  it's a problem since the old tag was technically visible before the new tag was drawn, and perhaps the old tag is connecting two of the new taggin to each other? Or do we say that since the old one is no longer noticeable, that it's not a problem? Scratching out every tag to avoid this problem would be almost prohibitively time-consuming.
Illustration of question 2, above.
(note: if your screen is set differently than mine, you may not see the light taggin at all.)
Keep in mind that the actual ksav is much smaller, so the light taggin are essentially impossible to see after fixing.
3) When you have an entire sefer in which the taggin are mostly faded, but the Ksav is nice and clear, what is the best course of action, assuming the shul has a very limited budget for repairs?

10 comments:

  1. Best way to fix tagin in an old ST is with a rapidograph, not a kulmus,

    Many of these old sforim are bedieved kosher anyway at best (after tikun) so most repairers don't bother with the tagin, particularly since it's not meakev.

    However no kotz RT, ie round lower left corner of yud must be fixed

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  2. what about a square left corner of yud? do we rely on the chasam sofer, or must it be fixed?

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  3. As Eli says, since the absence of taggin does not pasul if the taggin are all but gone throughout best not to try and fix them all as it is a) uneconomical and b) you can cause more problems than you fix with negiot if you aren't careful.

    I am not a supporter of the use of rapidograph as this is barzel and tantamount to engraving and even for the taggin b'dieved I don't feel it is right.

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    1. This is not the first time I have heard this, but how is using a rapidograph which is barzel, tantamount to engraving when one only writes and does not scratch or engrave with the pen tip at all?

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    2. My understanding is that any metal implement 'digs' into the parchment as it writes and thus it is 'akin' to engraving. That is why many do not agree with Sh'lomo Ganzfried when he say 'afilu kulmus shel barzel'in Keset Hasofer 3:6.

      However a number of sources do permit a metal writing implement after the event but many others say it is completely forbidden. In support of this view Ganzfreid in Lishkat Hasofer explains that the B’ney Yonah wrote with a metal pen(also reported in Chasdey David 1:8). Whilst it is permitted, chief amongst the critics of a metal quill is the L’vush. D’varim Shebichtav explains that his opposition stems from the fact that a metal quill engraves and digs the writing into the parchment and afterwards the ink fills the indentation in the parchment and this is akin to writing into a hollow and is invalid. The other explanation is that base metal is used for instruments of war and thus its use should be avoided in these holy works - i.e. iron (a sword) shortens life whilst Torah lengthens it..

      One is also permitted to use a quill made from bone and Sefer Chassidim recounts a tale that there was once a sofer who had a difference in his writing betwen his M’zuzot and his other non holy work (e.g. Gittin), because he wrote the holy things with a quill from a clean bird and the non-holy with a bone of an agor (an unclean bird). He said better you should write your holy work with the bone from the unclean bird because your writing is better when you use that because of zeh Keli v’anvehu. Indeed I understand that a sofer needs no instruments and may even dip his finger in the ink and write the letters and make the taggin with his fingernail - if he could do this successfully (Mikdash Me’at 271:44).

      I think I also read about this in Mishnat Hasofer and heard it in a shiur from R. Eliezer Adam.

      Rapidograph is clearly metal so I can't bring myself to use it though I know many sofrim do. I even have trouble using plastic for kitvey kodesh and only use this for gittin. I like quills. Call me old fashioned!

      Also Eliezer Adam and Mishnat Sofrim say that proper d'yo clogs up rapidographs and so sofrim are inclined to use shop bought inks that fade and may even contain non-kasher ingredients.

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    3. Harav Hagaon Rav Shlomo Ganzfried Zatza"l, was one of the greatest Halachic authoroties of recednt times, and indeed, no sofer today can gain certification without studying his sefer on Safrus. His sefer on safrus contains approbations from the Chasam Sofer and the Sanzer Rov among others, two individuals who did not give approbations easily. Rav Ganzfried literally wrote the book on safrus.

      Surely a posek of the stature of Rav Ganzfried deserves the title "Rav," or at least "Rabbi," or at the very minimum an "R" before his name. I don't think he should be referred to as if he's one of your buddies.

      I apologize for my bluntness, however I must stand up for the kavod of such a great person.

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    5. Mordechai, you do not differentiate between a delicate rapdiograph used for tikunim and a metal like quill pen used in the sources you quoted (although majority opinions completely machshir such a pen to write with including the Keset Hasofer 3:6 Biur Hasofer (Rav Shtern) to name a few. Also the Pri Chadash calls the carving case you mentioned- "a chumra with no reason", he says so what if there is carving this is still called writing).

      If one uses the slightest extra feather touch pressure on a rapdiograph for a tikun they could break or bend the nip. Therefore nobody is carving in any form with such usage of a delicate rapidograph for tikunim.

      Of course if one wants to be extra machmir than good for them, however chas veshalom to say others are pasuling their work for tikunim!
      Concerning diyo, They have kosher diyo from diyo lenetzach which does not clog pens.

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  4. The are two possible reasons for taggim fading. 1) the ink is based on an organic dye instead of carbon powder. Carbon powder is black forever. Organic dyes always fade. 2) Some inks with carbon powder have no or poor-quality adhesive. During the use of the Sefer, the carbon powder rubs off and no ink is left.

    Most commercial (non-Jewish) inks have this problem of fading. In addition, all inks which are "India ink" or "China ink" are NOT kosher. See
    http://indiainks.blogspot.com/2011/09/blog-post.html

    Sorry that it sounds like an advertisement - the best ink for writing taggim is דיו לנצח #114 לרפידוגרף . diolanetzach.com . You don't have to use it in a rapidograph if you don't want to. You can also use it with a sharp-point kulmus.

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  5. peretz - square corners of yud on an old sefer torah is acceptable unless you plan on fixing the whole sefer to a lechatchillah / mehudar level - which is virtually impossible on these old sforim.

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