The X Issue

Today, I checked this set of tefillin.  Besides the attached X shaped Alefs, there were many other issues that rendered it passul.  The question here regarding the Alef is such:  At what point is the letter considered to have changed it's shape?

Part of it involves the relative  proportioning of the letter.  For example, in the case posted below by R. Moshe the bottom yod of the Alef is totally out of proportion with that of the letter.  As indicated, it is more like another "kav" rather than a "nekuda."

As with many other cases, however, it is likely that both of the above letters may be read as an Alef by a tinok.  However, they may still deserve to be invalidated because we observe that it is truly a distortion of the letter's basic shape.

It is therefore, pretty evident that there is a certain amount of subjectivity that needs to be exercised by the sofer in cases like the above.

My question to the forum is: Would you use a tinok as an arbitrer in the above, or reserve their intervention strictly to a case resolving a doubt between two letters (i.e Dalet or Resh)?   If it is not a she'elat tinok, would you consider it a she'elat Hakham, or reserve the discretion of making the call yourself?  Please feel free to comment.


  1. those alefs (both yours and moshes) are not a shaalos tinok. they are a shailas chacham or outright possul if kav moshuch. As you pointed out a tinok can only be used in certain cases. you cannot show many shinoy tzurah shalos to a tinok, especially if it involves problems like kav moshuch or chaser eiver.

    A tinuk is really only supposed to be used when there is a safek between two letters ie that a letter could be one of two letters. Also for certain nifsakim and negiya shailos. Thats it.


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