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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Interesting Chok Tochus shaila

Today I was fixing a mezuzah and some ink dripped out of my rapidograph (I did not close it tightly enough when affixing the nib). The ink landed as a "blob" in a "ball" shape. At the time it landed it did not seem to passel the letters, but had I waited,  the blob/ball of ink would have collapsed and spread, certainly passeling the letters. Before it collapsed I stuck a corner of tissue into the "blob/ball" which sucked out the ink. This rectified the situation and when I had finished this process the damage was not bad enough to passel the letters. I then scraped away the excess ink.

I assumed "sucking" out the ink with the tissue is not chock tochus, since it had not yet "collapsed" and passelled the letters. Can someone please tell me if I am wrong?

9 comments:

  1. I actually asked this question of Rav Mordechai Alfasi and Rav Asher Chananya. Their answer was that so long as the shape of the letters was still unchanged, tikun is permitted without fear of hok techot.

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    1. even if you had left it would have surely become possul?

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    2. 'Prevention is better than cure'. I am not aware of seeing any text that would pasul something 'before the event'. If you have stopped it through soaking up (I've done that previously) then chok tochot just didn't come into play. Chok tochot is only carving out (and was originally about engraving when we first meet the idea in Gittin). Halachically, as I understand it, there could be more concern from some that the use of a rapidograph would be classed as engraving as it is metal (though because it is used for tagin only it doesn't seem to be an issue for most).

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    3. Eli so long as you don't lose the shape of the letter, and it stays kosher through the whole process, then hok tohot hasn't happened, as it is by definition forming a letter by means other than writing.

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    4. I was wondering about the use of the "rapidograph" (technical pen), too. The nib is usually a metal pipette, so engraving might be an issue.

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    5. 99.9% of major poskim permit the use of a rapidograph even with a metal nib, for minor tikunnim - not the actual kesivah itself.

      When I first started checking I asked Rav Friedlander and rav Shammai, both who permit it as 100% mehudar for touch - ups.

      Out of respect for the .01% of examiners who do not use it, I do not fix anything which is meakev (broken letters etc), I only use it for letters which are already kosher and I am just adding to their hiddur (such as strengthening tagin or making something more bolet).

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    6. Thank you, R' Eli, for this info and clarification.

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  2. Where else do we find letters being passul because of looming disqualification. If my child would throw a cup of scalding hot water towards a mezuzah, and I jump in the way and save the mezuzah, would I think to passul the mezuzah since had i not stopped the damage the letters would become ruined?

    I'm just curious as to the source of uncertainty...(I'm no rav...not even a certified sofer...)

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    Replies
    1. The source (logic) of uncertainty is as follows:

      The issur of chok tochus is the act of scraping / removing ink to create the correct letter formation.

      We know that removal of even wet ink is considered chok tochus (it does not just refer to scraping dry ink).

      The din about the guy who "blobbed" some ink on a mezuzah and then instinctively licked it off with his tongue (yuk) is well known, and what he did is considered chok tochus. Therefore, removal of WET ink, even before it dries, can be considered chok tochus, if it has ruined the letter.

      One could argue that the ink was not yet dry and the fact that it came off with his tongue (or a tissue for that matter)is not considered chok tochus. Traditionally, as Mordechai points out, the issur of chok tochus is scraping (dry ink)to form a letter.

      From my understanding, the reason we are machmir, that any act of REMOVAL of ink, even wet ink , can constitute the ACT of chok tochus.

      In my case, I removed wet ink, by sucking it with a tissue. Had I not removed the ink and let it dry it would have certainly been possul.

      Hence my act of removal of wet ink, in essence, "made" the letter kosher.

      Hence the ch'shash.

      Obviously I agree that it's a weak chshash, which is why I fixed the mezuzah. I felt right away that it's kosher. Still, it's interesting to hear what others have to say

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