Slightly Off Topic - Judaica/Calligraphy

I know some of us dabble in using our Safrus skills to do calligraphy (i.e. a nice aishes chayil or birchas habayis suitable for framing etc.) in fact, or-lasofer has a whole line of "kifulim" for judaica.
Two questions for those that do non-stam calligraphy:
1. What is the halacha of using Ksav Ashuri? I am interested in the marei makomos too.
2. What materials do you use, i.e. paper, pens etc?
Thanks as always.


  1. Ksav Ashuri is a problem. I always make some shinuyim. I just wrote a ksav rabbonus for someone and I made some changes by making some letters a little more "artsy" and adding multiple tagin to letters which don't normally have them.

    I never really understood this issur properly though. If anyone has a clearer understanding please post it.

  2. שלחן ערוך יו״ד רפד:ב

    The Rama brings it as a yeish Osrim which seems to imply that one should indeed be machmir in this regard.

    Whether or not its assur is itself a machloket rishonim, the aruch hashulchan at the end of the siman (and the end of the previous siman) is matir lema'ase although its praiseworthy to be machmir.

    The question is what constitutes davar chol?

    אגרות משה יו״ד ח״ג סי׳ ק״כ writes lema'ase to be matir even for a Ketuba to be written in ktav ashuri since its for a davar mitzva and was established by chazal (he's medayek in the lashon of the Rama) but says there is room to be machmir in acc with the Rambam. Either way he says re printed ketubot there's not issue because most of the letters are Pasul for Stam anyway.

    Either way, an eishet chayil is a davar kodesh and would be fine. Ive written eishet chayils on klaf for people before. When I've written ketubot I make shinuyim in the letters to be choshesh those that are machmir. I would assume a birkat habayit would require shinuyim (if there are no pesukim in it). I think the Halacha would apply equally for klaf or paper etc because its a din in the writing...

    This is all regarding the ktav itself, not mentioning the din of writing pesukim (whole or parts, another contentious point) with or without sirtut - which (at least acc to the Gra quoting ramban) is related to the reason we don't write divrei chol in ktav ashuri.

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  4. n addition one should not Metayag letters (Shatnaz Gat"z Bedek Chay"a) if is not for sta"m.
    See Sharei Halacha Uminhag (Lubavitch) vol 3 p.338.

  5. Thanks, now for the "chol" part of my question: what materials do you use? I assume you wouldn't write with Dyo and Kulmus?

  6. I don't see why you couldn't use a kulmus and dyo.

    The real question is writing on klaf if it was made l'kedushat STa"M. I don't have my sefarim in front of me ATM but I would venture to say only if the condition was made in the עיבוד to be able to use it for anything, even a davar chol. Perhaps R Eli or Rav Moshe can enlighten us on this?

  7. You can, but why would you want to?
    I imagine caligraphy ink and pens is much more suited to artwork?
    Anyone have experience or advice?

  8. My understanding is that the difference between Ksav Ashuris and regular Ksav is only the "zayin" taggin.

    We can see this clearly with the Sephardi Ksav, where the only way it differs from the standard Hebrew font is the "zayin" taggin.

    The difference between the Ksav used for gittin and Ksav Ashuris is that in gittin the "zayin" taggin are not used, and the ches is written as per Rashi.

    The "zayin" taggin have a cabbalistic significance and as such should not be used for anything in which we don't have a mesorah to use them.

  9. Regarding using feather quills versus calligraphy pens on paper, I have tried out dozens of calligraphy pens and markers, and many kinds of inks, and have yet to find anything that writes as sharply on paper as a feather quill.

    There are pens that are much easier to use, that drip less, and smear less, but I have never found one that leaves lines as sharp as a well-cut feather quill.

    If you look closely at most modern English calligraphy, you will find that the writing is no where near as sharp as a sofer's work.

    Gittin, incidentally, are written on paper, but cannot be written using metal implements (unlike sta"m which may be written with metal), and as such are written using a feather quill.

    A lot of how your writing comes out depends on the type of paper you use.

    Just by the way, for extra sharpness on paper I apply a touch of gum sandarac.

    1. What type of paper and ink do you use?
      I agree about the quill. I recently tried out some metal nibs for fun and could not understand the draw.

  10. I'm not sure what you mean by:
    "My understanding is that the difference between Ksav Ashuris and regular Ksav is only the "zayin" taggin."

    Tagin don't make it ktav ashurit. Ktav ashurit is the shape of ktav we use for STa"M (as oppose to ktav ivri etc), but there are obviously laws governing the tzurat ha'ot that is kosher for Stam. Gittin are written in ktav ashurit but without tagin. And Sephardi ktav does have tagin.

    Please clarify?


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