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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"Pitzua Dakka" Dilemma

I am in the process of organising a sefer Torah for a family who's patriarch recently passed away. The extended family wants to commission a sefer in his memory, to be shared by the various children and grandchildren, and used at family simchos and the like. The sefer would be housed at different shuls for different periods.

They chose to have the sefer written in Ksav Arizal, since most of the family is Chasidish. (Some are Chabad Chassidim, some are Gerer Chassidim, and some are non Chassidic (but they don't mind Arizal).

But the real issue of contention is if the "pitzuei DAKKAH" should be written with a Hey (the way most write it today) or an Aleph (the way Chabad (and Temanim) write it. Years ago, this would likely have been less of an issue as this matter has definitely grown more contentious and political (on both sides) in recent history.

The Chabad Shul attended by some family members would not likely use the sefer if it was written with a Hay. Conversely, the non Chabad shules would not want to use it with an Aleph. It is a very real problem that could potentially jeapordise the project and potentially alienate certain family members.

In the past, I have changed the spelling when a sefer has moved to a shul that wants me to adjust it to their minhag. But this is not really something one should plan to do from the outset.  Nor can this really be done practically more than a few times. It's not the solution.

A possible solution that was suggested was to have the sofer write the yeriya that has the "pitzuei dakkah" twice, one with the aleph and one with the hay. So if shared around, the yeriya could be switched prior to being housed at the shul based on the shuls minhag.

I was unsure as to the halachic implications of such a solution. While it would be ideal for the sake of peace in this particular situation, it may not be right to do this. I wonder what others think. Please feel free to comment.





13 comments:

  1. דכא is the spelling found in the good medieval manuscripts and in fact was the general Ashkenazic minhag until relatively recently. Even if one would argue that "regular" Ashkenazim should stick with our current practice to write it דכה, it is very difficult to argue that an Ashkenazi shul should bedavka refrain from using a Sefer that is already written with דכא. Would explaining this to them help or they are too entrenched in their positions?

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    1. There is a note in the Keter Aram Soba (b' Asher) on Tefilloh L'Maushe that the word דכא appears in three places in Tana"ch, including our case in Devarim. This spelling is also followed in the Leningrad Codex (b' Naftali). On the other hand, the Rava"h (R' Wolf Heidenheim זצ“ל) uses the spelling of דכה, which is subsequently followed by Koren.

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  2. I've davened in Chabad schuls which used Ashkenazi seforim spelled with a ה.

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  3. Like so many things today, sadly, it's more political than Halachic. Everyone knows that. A generation ago, not many people cared. Yet the climate today is causing this to be an issue for this family. My question is, is the solution suggested to make everyone happy halachically acceptable...

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  4. Might be הורדה בקדושה.

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  5. The Rebbe writes (Igros Kodesh vol. 14 p. 283) that the neccessary fixing to דכא should not be done with great publicity since this could possibly cause others to get angry and spitefully do the exact opposite.

    One should not write 2 yeriahs to switch each time as mentioned it would be הורדה בקדושה to both the yeriah and to the sefer torah when it will be written with a hei.

    The best advice is to sit down and explain to those that oppose writing it with an alef and show them the various sources that support that the correct custom is to write it with an alef.

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    1. I remember years ago I had a case where a father passed away and his grand children wanted to use his tefillin on a rotational basis, but they were ksav Arizal and some of the grandchildren were Briskers so they asked me to order equivalent level Beis Yosef and put it in the batim so at least when they had their turn they could have tefillin they were comfortable with Halachically and still use 2/3 parts of their zeida's tefillin (batim and retzuos). It was a bit over the top but everyone was happy and gave the family a certain amount of nechomo. I would get the tefillin once or twice a year and switch over the parshiyos. They were willing to undergo the tircha and expense to make their parents happy (although they stopped the practise after a while. My point is, Lema'an Hasholom and for the greater cause would there be any tzdad to allow (perhaps with a tnai)? Is it worth asking a posek (or will he just look at us like we're off the wall?). The family really likes the idea and would do it if it was somehow permissable...

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    2. That case is not analogous because both Ksav Ari and Beis Yosef are kosher. A Sefer Torah with an incorrect spelling is not kosher, although למעשה one could get an aliyah in both types (alef and hey) because there is no absolute way of knowing what was in Moshe Rabbeinu's Sefer Torah and both have a valid Mesorah (plus Rambam in Tshuvah, etc.). The case of switching a Sefer Torah between דכא ad דכה is more analogous to switching Batim between Rashi and RT Tefillin, one of which is by definition not kosher.

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    3. Yankev, R' Ovadia paskens that a Sephardi may even hear Parshas Zachor (and other deoraisa k'riyos) lehned from an Ashkenazi sefer. Presumably, this even considers the machlokos in spelling.

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    4. Nowadays Ashkenazi and Sefardi Sefarim have the same spellings. But even if they were different, it doesn't change the point. בעצם, the Halacha is that a Sefer Torah must have all the correct spellings, or it is not really a kosher Sefer Torah. Nowadays, we don't know which are the "real" spellings so practically speaking we allow both to be used since they both have a valid Mesorah. Within the same Sefer, however, changing the spelling would be problematic because perhaps the Sefer as written before was correct and the new spelling was a הורדה בקדושה. It's not that both spellings are correct on an absolute level.

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  7. I had the opportunity over yontif to check the sefer used by the Chabad in Cambridge, MA (USA) and discovered that it was spelled with דכה. When I asked the shaliach, he said that despite Chabad's preference (as laid out in their seforim) it is perfectly acceptable to lein from a sefer with the ה spelling. It is worth noting that both of this Chabad's seforim are Beis Yosef, while the Ashkenaz kehillo has a sefer written in Alter Rebbe k'sav.

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    1. That's really something. Maybe they could do a trade...

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