Shalom to all.
I am new to this blog and I hope to make a meaningful contribution.
I would like to revisit a minor discussion which took place on the blog a short while back regarding what's been called the "chumra of the Rashb"a" i.e. not to scrape away a Negiah which took place prior to the conclusion of having written the second letter.
I would like to clarify two points: 1) it is a complete misnomer to call it the Chumra of the Rashb"a.
2) It is actually much more severe than if it was actually the chumra of the Rashab"a that we are concerned about. Allow me to explain with a basic introduction:
The Yerushalmi states:
"Irev es ha'osiyos - milmaalah: passul, milmaatah: kasher" (I have "shrunk" the actual passage to what the minimum of whats needed for this discussion).
The Rashab"a (as well as the Ramba"n, and the Sma"k) interpret this to mean that if, as one is forming the second letter, it touched the letter preceding it, the second letter is passul and one may not scratch away the attachment as this would be a chok Toiches. The rational is that by virtue of the fact that the second letter has attached itself to another letter prior to the completion of its own formation - it has yet to become kosher letter, Now, to go ahead and grant the letter its initial "kosherness" via scraping is not permitted. If, however, the second letter attached itself to the preceding letter once its form was complete then it is perfectly permitted to scrape away the attachment. As a matter of fact, the attachment can even be left in place and all is still Kosher. In his rational for this the Rashab"a envokes a talmudic principle of "kol ha'raoy lebila - ein bila me'akeves bo". Meaning, that since the attachment took place once both letters had been completely formed, there would be no chok tioches in scraping away the attachment. As such, it can be considered as if the attachment is not there even without actually ridding it.
This, by the way, is how the Rashba"a paskened le'maaseh.
However, there are many Rishonim who come along and state that the Bavli categorically rejects such a distinction between an attachment "le'maalah" i.e. prior to the completion of the formation of the second letter, to an attachment "le'maatah" i.e. after the comple formation of both letters. They cite the statement of Rav "kol ois sh'ein gvil makif lah - pesulah". Now, since Rav did not qualify his psak in any way this indicates that any negiah is equally as passul and never would we accept the Rashba"s kula that an attachment that comes along after the formation of both letters is acceptable.
Now, the big question is: according to these Rishonim, can negios be fixed via scraping or not? So, the Ri"f and the Ramba"m while ruling like the Bavli in terms of the psul of all negios equally, make no mention at all that these negios may be scraped away. The Ro"sh, the Terumah, and the Mordechai, among others, do indicate that negios may be scraped away.
In other words, according to the latter Rishonim both the Bavli and the Yerushalmi have a Kula and a Chumra. According to the Yerushalmi, negios that happened pre-formation are passul and cannot even be scraped away (the only solution would be erasing the second letter and rewriting it). Conversely, Negios that happened post-fomation are not only permitted to be scraped, but can even be left in place without scraping altogether. The Bavli on the other hand has a chumra that all negios are problematic and must be dealt with. However, the kula is that they are allowed to be scraped away and there is not chok toiches in that.
Now, the big question is: on what basis did these Rishonim believe that the Bavli permits the scraping of Negios? Especially in light of the fact that the Yerushalmi feels that scraping Negios (at least the pre-formation ones) is chok toiches!!!
The one Rishon who actually explains the psak is the Mordechai. He envokes the Gemara in Shabbos which establishes that one is chayav on Shabbos for scraping away a chatoteres of a cheis therby resulting in two zayins. The Mordechai points out that if this scraping was considered chok toiches, then how could one be chayav for that on Shabbos? Certainly chok toiches cannot be considered "keshivah"!? He therefore concludes that when one is engaged in an act of separating two attached letters - it is not considered chok toiches.
Now, the Mahahra"m banet comes along and asks: but we all know that it is not permissible to go ahead and scrape away the chatoteres of a cheis in order to produce to zayins!!! He concludes therefore that although it is true that, le'halacha, in Sta"m such an act would definitely constitute chok toiches, nonetheless, the Rishonim felt that at least regarding a case in which the two attached letters each retain their own look - we could draw on this Gemara as an indication that it is permissible to scarpe.
The fact of the matter, however, remains that from that Gemara there is clearly no solid indication to the permissibility of scraping negios. The Gemara considers it kesiva only in regards to Shabbos because "mleches machsheves" is problematic on Shabbos and whether it is formal kesivah or not is irrelevant in so far as Shabbos is concerned.
Hence, the Gr"a concludes that this "proof" is actually very problematic and difficult to accept.
So, where does all of this leave us? It leaves us with
1) The Ri"f and the Ramba"m who while paskening like the Bavli that all negios are problematic make no mention of the permissibility of scraping them.
2) An very problematic attempt on the part of the Mordechai to infer a proof from the Bavli that scraping Negios is permissible.
3) A Yerushalmi which indicates that at least in regards to pre-formation negios - it is chok toiches to scrape them.
So, now we can all see that the reason for the chumrah is not merely "being choshesh for the Rashb"a". The reason for the chumra is because there is no real indication in the bavli that it is permitted to scrape negios at all!!!
Now, I would like to take all of this one step futher. When the Biur Halacha (Siman 32, 18 "ve'im gorar ve'hifridah kasher") brings the Gr"a as well as others who raise this issue to begin with, he only specifies that the issue would be with negios that happened "le'maalah" and "be'emtza". He does not, however, make mention of a negia which happened "le'matah" i.e. post-formation, but prior to having lifted the kulmus (the lifting of the kulmus being the ultimate indication of having concluded the letters formation).
However, earlier on (Siman 32, 16) the Biur Halacha struggles with a different yet related issue. It is well know that the Beis Yosef has two approaches to understanding the nature of the requirement of hekeif gvil. The first is that the requirement of Hekeif gvil pertains only to negios. The second is that the requirement of hekeif gvil relates both to negios as well as to holes in the klaf, but that the requirement to begin with is only applicable pre-formation of the letters. So, does this second approach not completely contradict the assertion of the majority of Rishonim mentioned above? We stated that most Rishonim hold that when Rav said "kol ois she'ein gvil makif lah - psulah" it means that it is always pasul regardless of when the compromise took place!
The Biur Halacha therefore concludes, that although the second approach of the Beis Yosef indeed indicates that the Bavli embraces a pre vs. post-formation distinction when it comes to the issue of hekeif gvil, nonetheless, it differs to that of the Yerushalmis. The difference lies in the definitions of "pre" and "post". According to the Yerushalmi, "post-formation" means the moment the minimum requisite is formed. According to the Bavli, that moment might still be considered "pre-formation". It is only after the Sofer has actually lifted the writing instrument from the klaf that we now can say "post-formation". So, practically speaking: if I am writing a vav and at the very moment that I complete its tip - it makes contact with the bottom of the preceding letter. According to the Yerushalmi, since the minimum required shiur of a vav was in place prior to the attachment - it is considered a "post-formation negiah". According to bavli, however, it is still considered a "pre-formation negiah" since I had not yet lifted the kulmus. As such, both approaches of the Beis Yosef concur that the Negiah is problematic. According to the first approach - all negios are probelmatic - even post-formation ones. And even according to the second approach such a negiah is deemed a pre-formation negiah and is therefor pasul as well.
Accordingly, it would seem logical to conclude that even a negiah "le'maatah" i.e. at the very end of the writing but prior to having lifted the kulmus, is included in the Chumra not to be scraped.
This point I am not completely sure of, however. It is possible that since the Yerushalmi clearly holds that such a negiah may be scraped (and according to the Rashab"as interpretation - doesn't even require scraping at all), so maybe the Gr"a would be perfectly comfortable with scraping in this case.
Because regarding this case of "le'maatah" we have
1) The Yerushalmi that would certainly allow scraping.
2) Many Rishonim who hold scraping of Negios is always permitted.
In reality, the Keses writes about this case too that there is justification to being machmir.
For our purposes there are three categories of Negios:
1) "le'maalah/b'ematzah" - A negiah that takes place before the second letter meets its minimum required form.
2) "le'maatah" - A negiah that takes place after the minimum required form is in place but prior to having lifted the kulmus.
3) "le'achar she'silek yadav" - A negiah that takes place after the kulmus is lifted
There are three opinions:
1) The Shulchan Aruch Ho'rav: all categories are perfectly permissible to be scraped. (This is the psak of the Mechaber as well. The Shu"A Ho'rav is very elaborate, however, in articulating the heter).
2) The Mishnah Brurah: category 1 should not be scraped in a Sefer Torah, nor in Tefillin/Mezuzos if you catch it on the spot. Rather the entirety of the second letter should be erased. If one only caught it after continuing to write - then scraping is permitted and one must not erase all the way back. In Hashems name scraping is permitted even in a Sefer Torah. Categories 2 and 3 are permitted to be scraped.
3) The keses Ha'sofer: the same as the Mishnah Berurah, but considers it worthwhile to see category 2 the same as category 1.
I hope I have written this clearly and that it is useful to the readers. Please please please write feedback.
P.s. this article remains profoundly wanting. I have not included many sources as I wanted to present a bigger picture to the extent possible. Please feel free to ask and I can refer you to all sources. Also, forgive me for all of my transliteration... I don't type well in hebrew etc. Finally, this is a very concise overview. There are many many aspects of what I've written that can be developed further - some le'iyun and some le'maaseh. Please understand that I have attempted to stay as focused as possible.