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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 98)

מאמצע הסעיף או שהיתה עד סעיף כו

Repairs Affected by the Rule of K’sidron

Visibly Broken Letters

Which Cracks Can be Repaired?

e5976b54-3e02-43d1-8702-32f2d30db021.jpgWhich repairs are governed by the rule of k’sidron?

The rules regarding when a letter may be repaired without concern for k’sidron and when it may not apply to four categories of writing problems: 1) A letter is pasul and can’t be repaired if it was missing an essential component (e.g. the yud top of many letters like aleph and shin, the leg of a kuf, etc.). 2) It is permissible to separate two properly-formed letters that accidentally got connected. 3) Going back to repair a broken component of a letter (e.g. a break in the leg of a tav) is sometimes permissible and sometimes forbidden, depending on the situation. 4) Going back to repair a broken letter that looks like two letters because of the break (e.g. the yud separated from a long tzadi so that it appears to be a yud and a nun, or a shin that divided so that it appears to be a zayin and an ayin) is also only permissible sometimes, depending on the situation.

(סעיף כה, וס"ק קיד, קטו ו־קיח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 158)

1453d76f-9826-497a-b35c-826da011c2a1.jpgVisibly Broken Letters

Broken letters can be divided into four categories: 1) A break that is visible from a distance (the distance itself is a subject of discussion) invalidates the letter, and repair is disqualified because of k’sidron. 2) A break that is not even visible up close but can be seen when held to the light does not disqualify the letter. (According to the Chazon Ish, if the break extends across the entire width of the letter, it is treated as a break which can be seen up close). 3) A break which cannot be seen from far away but is easily noticed up close may be valid for repair or disqualified from repair, depending on the circumstances (factors include which letter is affected and what type of repair is needed). 4) A break that can only be seen up close may or may not be valid for repair, depending on the circumstances (with the same factors in play as in #3 above). According to the Chazon Ish, the difference between categories 3 and 4 does not depend on the distance at which the break can be spotted, but on how clear cut the break is.

(סעיף כה, וביה"ל ד"ה אות וד"ה מכירם; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 162 ו־166)

da95899c-5f55-4855-9944-ee3b24c33025.jpgWhich cracks can be repaired?

According to some poskim, a readily apparent crack which does not make the letter seem as two is nonetheless pasul and a repair is considered a breach of k’sidron. According to other poskim, if a qualified child can identify the letter correctly, it is permissible to fix it. According to some poskim, a crack only noticeable with scrutiny should be shown to a child, and if it is identified correctly it can be repaired. Other poskim hold that it is kosher as is and does not require repair. A noticeable crack that divides a letter into two other letters is pasul, and repairing it is forbidden because of k’sidron. If the crack is not noticeable, the halacha is the subject of a machlokes. According to the lenient opinion, it is proper to show the letter to a child. A break in the ‘roof’ of a ches does not need to be shown to a child. The child would not be familiar with the unusual shape and would not identify it as a ches.

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  • It is permissible to erase an extra letter in the middle of a parsha. If the erasure would leave a gap in the middle of a word so that it would look like two words, however, the parsha is pasul. In some cases it is possible to solve the problem by lengthening or thickening a letter.
  • When enlarging a letter after it was written, the sofer must be careful to constantly maintain the form of the letter.
  • Any os in tefillin or mezuzah which lost its tzura and must be rewritten or which has to have its tzura altered to make a correction (e.g. chok tochos) can be a concern of k’sidron-writing out of order.
  • Faded letters
  • Revitalizing faded letters with chemicals
  • Circumstances under which it is permitted to erase a letter from Hashem’s name
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