Wednesday, May 29, 2013

ְשיר השירים

Here are some pictures of Shir HaShirim which I wrote for Pesah. Note there are no שלשה זיינים, in accordance with the Maimonidean/Temani interpretation of Rava's meimra that שלשה זיינים were not originally intended for ספרי תורה or מגילות.

Here I forgot a word and had to "hang" it in the margin, according to the suggestion of the Gemara -- erasure is much more difficult to get to look decent on gewil and the Gemara in Menahoth, which seems to prefer that you add things in than that you erase a few words to make space for a forgotten element, reflects that.

Scan of a larger portion.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

מספר שמות

Close-up here (as previously disclaimed, letters in the photo appear to touch; they do not on the actual qelaf).

Sunday, May 19, 2013

On Stretching Letters

Looking at modern sofruth, one could easily come to the conclusion that כתבי קודש require perfectly straight margins both on the right and the left, and that to meet this requirement, it is not only permitted but appropriate to stretch letters to fill the line. An investigation of older sifrei torah in Ashkenaz (c. 100 years ago and prior) reveals that the left margin was previously considered much more fluid; even brief inspection will show regular intrusions into the margin space of one or two letters. This is true also, and continues to be so, in many Mizrahi sifrei torah.1 The question then arises of what is the halakhah.

Monday, May 13, 2013

מזוזה לפי הרמב"ם / mezuzah according to Ramba"m

The margins of this mezuzah turned out particularly well in that there is no stretching of letters, and I didn't have to compromise the straightness of the left margin in order to ensure proportionality. While according to halakhah it is generally much more preferable to have uneven line lengths in a mezuzah than it is to stretch any letter out proportion (I hope to cover this in a later post), people are not used to seeing less than 100% margin justification, and so for professional reasons it's best if the mezuzah turns out to have both proportional letters and justification.

Other points as regards this mezuzah, and others I write:

In BT Menahoth 29b, Rava makes a statement in the context of mezuzoth that they require שלושה זיינין on particular letters: 

אמר רבא שבעה אותיות צריכות שלשה זיונין ואלו הן שעטנ"ז ג"ץ

Many are used to seeing שלושה זיינין as built-in features of these letters, rather than as decorations meant for the special occasion of a mezuzah, but Ramba"m (and, consequently, nusah Teiman) takes Rava's words as indicating specific letters and specifically for a mezuzah (הלכות תפילין ומזוזה וספר תורה פ' ה הלכה ג). On this point, R. Qapah writes that this means that early sifrei torah would not have had any at all.

Note that שלושה זיינין are not to be confused with תגין, little upticks to the horizontal stroke of many letters (such as ה), which are indeed intrinsic to the letter in question rather than an occasional addition.

Image of the whole mezuzah (note there are no נגיעות in the actual mezuzah; the bend in the qelaf creates this illusion in places).