Great 6 CM mezuzah, but wait a minute???

This mezuzah is 6cm. Amazing ksav for that size, I think we can all agree.

But look at chof pshutah in the word "baderech" at the end of the 4th line. He does a number of the chof pshutos in such a manner (too long across the top, and a shailo of looking like a large reish).

My question for Reb Moshe (or anyone else) is two fold:

1) Most probably we do a shaylas tinok here, since the regel is still marginally longer. Do you agree?
2) Assuming you agree, do I cover the other letters or not (much greater chance of a child saying reish if I cover)?


  1. אם התינוק אינו חכם [פי' שלא יודע לקרוא] לא צריך לכסות את שאר הכתב
    אבל משמע בשו"ע רבינו ועוד פוסקים שאם הגג רחב ממש כמו הרגל ואין צריך לומר אם הוא יותר רחב מעט מהרגל, דפסול ולא מועיל כלל קריאת התינוק, כי עינינו רואות שנשתנתה לרי"ש גדולה

  2. I don't understand: doesn't "eino chacham" mean he "does not understand what he's reading"?
    Are you implying that the requirement of "eino chacham" refers to a child who doesn't know how to read?

  3. R. Y.Y. - my understanding has always been that ideally the lo chacham v'lo tipesh means a child who doesn't know how to read whole words but can recognise letters (not about whether they can understand them). If you can't find one of them and they can read then that's when you have to cover stuff up. That's how I've applied the halacha practically when needed and when it is a case of genuine safek.

  4. Can you please refer me to the sources that your understanding is based on?

    1. Part 1 (apparently there's a charachetr limit)

      R. YY, I fully accept that poskim read this as understanding the meaning of the word. However I left out the word 'just' before 'about' in the sentence in brackets.

      What I was outlining was how I practically apply this, particularly in the UK where a tinok could be able to read/i.e. decode a word in Hebrew but not necessarily understand it, something the earlier poskim would not necessarily have considered as their tinokim would be more familiar with Torah at an early age and more likely to recognise verses from verbal recitation.

      Keset Hasofer 6:1 reads ‘we show it to a child that is neither [especially] clever or a simpleton, and if he knows how to read it according to its rules it is valid. And this is only when we [really] doubt [that] the discernment is of use’

      Yeriot Sh'lomo 13:10 explains how one asks. That one checks out that he can read the letters correctly else where that aren't in doubt and see if he knows to ensure he doesn’t invalidate freely? So I understand from this to mean more about reading ability not just understanding. A simpleton cannot read at all. Shinun Hasofer 17:2 brings the words of Machatsit Hashekel who says that he must not be a fool but must know the letters well. However Mishnat Hasofer says we don't make a distinction between one who can still only read letters and one who can read whole words (which seems odd as potentially they could then work it out from context - see below).

      Keset Hasofer 6:2 then explains that ‘a child who is neither overly clever or a simpleton is [defined as] one who does not understand the context/subject matter but knows the letters well. And we do not have to cover up from before him the letters that are after the letter that is in doubt, but the letters before it, we are accustomed to cover.


    2. In Yeriat Sh’lomo 13:4 he draws caution to the letter that a child is not used to seeing such as a chet with its bridge where it might be read as two zayins or a vav and a zayin even though it is okay. Also the large letters such as the large letters in mishpatim (cf) which could be read as a final chaf because of its size as the vav in gachon (cf) which could be read as a final nun - these would not be invalid and peh nun sofit in v’hayah im shamo’a where the final nun could be read as a zayin because the peh is longer than normal. Ideally one should initially test the child by showing them (for example) some bets and kafs to see if he knows them in Ashurit writing so that he doesn’t invalidate them freely (Responsa Beyt Sh’lomo). Mishnat Hasofer also suggest avoiding a child who knows Rashi script as the could confuse an Ashurit samech with a Rashi script mem (as they are similar).

      So again the practical application for these commentators is also very much about reading ability, not just understanding.

      As regards covering up, Mishnat Hasofer says that there are those who say it is better not to cover so that the child will see the style of the letters of the writing and understand it correctly for if not he could invalidate it freely. The Shulchan Aruch says that when you show it to the child you don’t have to cover the rest of the letters but the Pri M’gadim in the name of the Maharit writes that you should cover for him what is before the letter and what is after the letters you need not cover. (Shinun Hasofer 16:3 c.f. Shulchan Aruch 32:19).

      However the argument here I guess is whether meviyn just means understanding the word or knowing the word. In practice it amounts to the same thing as a child’s verbal skills will be way ahead of their reading skills - thus is they can read/recognise/ie know a word without nikud in a Torah then they would usually know what that word means, though with the state of some Hebrew education and decoding this isn’t always the case.

      Hence I was describing the practice I follow which a) ensures they can read and recognise STaM letters and b) then cover up to ensure that from the reading of the word as a whole (which can amount to same as understanding the word but may not) they can’t just guess at the letter. And that’s what I was taught as a practical application.

  5. R' Mordechai Pinchas: See Rash"i Menachos 29b on the words "lo chakim". Then Mechaber 32:16. Then see Ta"z S"K 13.

    These are my sources which clearly indicate that "lo chakim" excludes only a child who COMPREHENDS what he reads. All Poskim that I've ever seen concur with this definition.

    As far as the need to cover the other letters: Ta"z clearly states that reading fluency does NOT require covering the letters. The Pri Megadim brings the Levush who concurs to this. Magen Avraham, however, brings Mahari"t who holds that reading fluency is a reason to cover the proceeding words.

    R' Eli: I see no issue here that cannot be determined by a tinok. Particularly in light of Shaarei Tshuva #21.

    1. Furthermore R' Eli: when discussing the issue of covering, Rav Shtern writes to cover up until the word that contains the letter in question. Not till the letter in question

    2. A gutte voch

      I think the issue re to cover or not to cover needs to be dealt with in its own post. A lot of sofrim do it wrong.

    3. Did you mean Sha'arei Teshuva #12 ??!!
      It is not an accepted view - on the contrary pshat of acharonim that if the gag is definitly longer than regel it is mamash a reish, and passull.

  6. R' Moshe: in both cases indicated in the images, the regel is longer than the Gag. What I'm saying is that certainly in these cases a Shaalas tinok would be acceptable especially in light of the Shaarei tshuvah.

  7. I recall biur halacha quoting breichas hamayim that as long as the regel is longer its considered chaf sofit.
    these are definitely not lechatchila,I think they are kosher bdieved without shailas tinok

    1. Correct. The Mishnah Brurah in the Biur halacha seems to be meikel (Mishnas Sofrim, Os Chof Ppshutah), so long as the gug is not wider than the regel. He refers to the Breichas Hamayim, Baal Seder Haget as you recalled.

      However from the Mishnah Brurah it appears you still need a shailos tinok Lechumrah.

      IMHO, I would say that if you fix it, it would definitely be kosher lechatchillah according to him. It would only be bedieved if you left it as is. It should definitely be fixed as in any other fixable bedieved.

      It seems as Reb Moshe says, the S"A Harav is more machmir, that it definitely needs a shailos tinuk as a minimum, and may even be possul (when they are even in length).

      This is a noteworthy" nafka mina lehalocha" between the Mishnah Brurah and S"A Harav. I once made a list of some of the nafka minos lehalocha between the two, and in tzuras haosiyos alone there were 12 (not including the standard differences between Arizal and Beis Yosef ksav). I will add this one too, even though it is more subtle. (I am hoping to print a small kovetz on these differences at some stage. It is important for magihim and poskim with a mix of customers to be familiar with them so that they can pasken leshittosom.)

      One more point, if I may. Although the simple way to repair this is to erase part of the gug, I would sooner add ink and thicken the left inner part of the regel, so that there is no / less of an issue of chok tochus. I would then erase after that if still necessary, but hopefully the worst of it will be rectified by the thickening of the ink.

      By Sefer Torah (where there is no issue of kesidran) it would be prudent to erase the whole letter and re write it properly.

      N.B. I discussed the abovementioned shailoh with Rabbi Chaim Heimlich, a respected dayan and posek here in Melbourne, who wrote me a comprehensive teshuvah on the matter. I will email it to you shortly...

  8. To conclude this matter, I made a shailos tinok without covering, all the chofs were read correctly. I repaired them by primarily adding ink to the inner regel and a little bit of scraping. I was going to send these mezuzos back to the sofer but now after repair they are undoubtedly kosher lechatchillah and sellable.

    I thank everyone for their contributions on this matter.

  9. Obviously when suggesting the above method of adding ink to the regel and then erasing slightly (to perfect the letter) one whould need to be careful not to make a "ponim chadoshos" (on the regel).


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