Letters Touching In Mezuzah 1 Leave a comment

This Alter Rebbe Ksav mezuzah has two letters touching. Since each of the letters are still identifiable, it can be fixed, but until this mezuzah is fixed, it is posel. The bottom mezuzah also has letters touching. In my opinion, two mezuzos written by the same sofer, both with letters touching (actually I saw more than two letters touching but I only took pictures of these two places) is negligent. When a sofer writes a mezuzah he is responsible to check it. When he sells it to a sofer like myself who is in the checking and selling end of things, it is the seller’s responsibility to check it. The seller MUST know that he is selling kosher mezuzos. How can someone miss this many errors? Its not like we are talking about cheap little fake mezuzos that anybody can tell that they aren’t kosher, these are big and probably expensive mezuzos! Someone was asleep at the wheel. The customer than asked me, “Well you corrected the letters so now they are kosher?” I responded in the following way: yes, they are kosher. Although I may wonder how a mezuzah like this gets ‘on to the market’, meaning how did all those touching letters get overlooked? No sofer is perfect, but apparently no sofer checked over these mezuzos. No qualified sofer could miss this much in a single batch of mezuzos written by the same person. After he (hopefully) noticed the first instance of touching letters he should have been very careful in his examination. My feeling is that once we assume that a proper inspection had not occured,  how do I know that the sofer who wrote these knew the halacha? It is a halacha that a mezuzah must be checked before being sold and he either didn’t know this halacha or ignored it. If he didn’t know this halacha what else didn’t he know?

Mezuzah with touching letters
The nun is touching the pey in nafshachim

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That you have to have intent when you write a mezuzah? That you have to write Hashem’s name with special intent? That a letter can not be carved with a knife  (and the many complicated halachos that this can involve)? That two letters can not be touching (and the many complicated halachos that this can involve)? That tefillin and mezuzos must be written in order  (and the many complicated halachos that this can involve)? A sofer who doesn’t live these halachos simply can’t be trusted. None the less, to take shaimos tho the genizah (each mezuzah has Hashem’s name written in it ten times plus one time to the back of the mezuzah) is not considered correct unless their is an actual p’sul (invalidating factor) that can not be fixed. Giving mezuzos like this to people who otherwise will not be able to afford mezuzos seems to me to be the ideal solution. I would point out that of the many many cheap but not quite posel mezuzos that I see I don’t recommend using them for people who can’t afford mezuzos. The difference here is that the letters, although not well done, are at least an attempt at real writing, whereas in the real cheap mezuzos, there are no redeeming factors at all. They are sloppy, and poor to look at, and some of them are barely ksav ashures (the name of the font that safrus is written in). Those mezuzos go to the genizah and that’s that.

A Final Point about this style of writing: He writes in a dangerous way. There are lots of little points at various points in the lettering. He does this for style, thinking it makes his writing look nicer. For writers of a very high caliber it does make there writing nicer, but for someone like the writer of this mezuzah, it not only doesn’t look good, but it makes problems in halacha. When you have these little lines of ink sticking out all over the place, touching letters is bound to be the result. When we are talking about Alter Rebbe Ksav, the  issue is exacerbated because of the design of the letters. There is an emphasis on having a lot of sharp points in various parts of the letters. By the way, this should not be taken as a slight to Alter Rebbe Ksav. If that is your minhag, you should certainly continue with it. But it is incumbent on soferim who specialize in Alter Rebbe Ksav that they pay special attention to this issue. See  my post Beautiful Alter Rebbe Parshios for a great example of beautiful Alter Rebbe Ksav Parshios.

 

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