פורום בינלאומי לנושא סת"ם

Sunday, May 15, 2016

shin in "Alter Rebbe" script

Both the Shulchan Aruch Harav and the Mishnah Brurah use similar terminology when describing the importance of the shin being "pointy" on the bottom and all three branches of the letter shin meeting at a point or "chad" at the bottom of the letter. There is a strong foundation in Halacha for this and for the bottom of the shin to be flat like a moshav (base) is considered questionable (Pri Megadim) and definitely not Kosher Lechatchillah. It is worse if the moshav is very wide, but it is still questionable if it is lechatchillah if there is a thick noticeable base rather than a chad.

Even for Sephardim, who lechatchillah make an angular base, it is still important that the base is indeed on a (significant) angle. If the base is flat, even if all three branches of the shin come out of the base  connected , as in the top picture, it is problematic.  It is worse in the bottom picture below where the right head/ branch comes out of the right part of the base and the middle and left branches come out from a different part of the base.

(Pictures are from sefer Ksivah Tamah)

In the Alter Rebbe's Ksav, the shin is one of the most difficult letters to write correctly. This is because the right branch of the shin curves and gets substantially thicker as it comes down, almost  like an ayin. But it is important to ensure that it still meets the requirement of all three roshim meeting in a "chad" as described in S'A Harav. It is very easy to slightly err and inadvertently create a (flat) moshav. In some cases this can be problematic and may need to be fixed.

Over the years I have seen some very exaggerated cases, where the bottom of the shin looks more like Mor Uktzia ksav than Alter Rebbe ksav.

I recently saw a very beautiful Alter Rebbe mezuzah where most of the shins were done very well, such as these:

But some (few and far between) in the same mezuzah looked like this:

I stress that these are mild cases (and not the very exaggerated type I refer to above). However these still have a clear, distinguishable moshav and are flatter than ideal, and hard to really consider Chad kra'ah . IMHO if such a Mezuzah is being sold as "high end mehudar" it would be worth fixing the few shins written like this with an ever so slight adjustment to create a better chad.

Does the oilam agree?

UPDATE: Someone emailed me this picture highlighting what he felt to be the most incorrect aspect, namely the almost 90 degree angle between the right branch and the moshav.

Although I touched on this, he wanted me to reiterate that this is a common mistake and the inside should be round / curved ie one flowing aiver  and not have such a sharp angle which essentially exacerbates the problem.


  1. In regards what you wrought:

    “In the Alter Rebbe's Ksav, the shin is one of the most difficult letters to write correctly. This is because the right branch of the shin curves and gets substantially thicker as it comes down, almost like an Ayin.”

    Probably you’re referring to the one particular copy of Ksav that is printed in the book “Ktav Chabad”, which in that particular Sofer’s writing its emphasized that “the right branch of the shin curves and gets substantially thicker”, almost like he emphasizes that same curve by his Ayin.

    (And so there are those that are Mdayek from "ולא יהא מושב רחב למטה אלא חד לצד שמאל לכתחילה" that some sort of Moshav you do need.)

    But looking at the Megilot that the Rebbe MaHaRa”SH wrote:

    And Parshiyot from many other Lubavich Sofrim:

    We see that this “curve” is Not consistently emphasized, not by letter Shin and so to by Ayin, therefore that’s not necessarily bound to the “Alter Rebbe script”.

    *As long as on the bottom left side of the Shin, it ends up with a point, like the by the Sephardim, don’t see way it should be played around with "to fix".

  2. Thank you for your reply. However I fail to understand how any of the meyuchasdike ksavim of either Reb Ruvain, The Rebbe Maharash's megillah or the sofer Reb Zalman Vaynshtain have the type of characteristic I was referring to in the above post, namely an almost completely horizontal moshav, perpendicular to the vertical right "branch" / rosh at such a sharp 90 degree angle (as highlighted in the picture with the red arrow above). In all of the above ksavim there is no such a thing. Rather, the shape is substantially more curved resulting in a more pointed shape, complying much more to the Alter Rebbe's directive of חד לצד שמאל לכתחילה ואז יהיו כל הג' ראשים עומדים למטה על רגל אחת

    This is how the sofer wrote 90 percent of his shinim as per the picture I posted above from the word וקשרתם and this is much more in line with how it is written in the meyuchsdike ksavim you quote above. (I am happy to post pictures and put them all side by side for you to be able to compare more easily).

    The fact remains that it is overall a very beautiful and precise mezuzah and likely to be sold for a high price as a mehudardikeh mezuzah. You write that it would somehow ruin the mezuzah to fix it? IMHO I believe the opposite is true, that it would "ruin" the mezuzah to leave it. It is easy for a professional magiha or sofer to touch it up slightly by filling in a touch in the inside right of the moshav (where the red arrow is) as well as pulling out the bottom left of the moshav by the slightest amount. Such a tikkun would be virtually impossible to detect and would bring the few inconsistent shinim to the standard of the others, and raise the halachic standard of the entire mezuzah.

  3. I have to say the shape of the bottom flat base and the square corner going up to the right head looks like how you make a TES in alter rebbe in other words the letter is a TES with a left branch sticking out. This is not how you make alter rebbe a bad name

  4. i mean to write, this is not how you make alter rebbe ktav a good name


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