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Hilchos Tefillin 36 (page 121)

מאמצע הסעיף והסופרים נהגו עד אמצע הסעיף אות א

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Are Tefillin Without Tagim Pasul?

Corrections that are Not an Issue of K’sidran

Chok Tochos on a Properly Formed Letter

859b34e6-fbf8-41ec-bc3d-6da750af62ad.jpgAre tefillin without tagim pasul?

There is a machlokes as to whether the letters shin, ayin, tes, nun, zayin, gimel and tzadi are kosher without tagim. The Mechaber holds that they are kosher, but many Acharonim hold otherwise. In light of this, missing tagim should be added. According to some Rishonim, the rule of tagim requires the squaring of the corners — i.e. the leftmost top of the letter should have (at least) three squared corners. If any of these corners is round, the letter is pasul. The halacha follows this opinion according to the Mechaber, but there is room to be lenient if there are three tagim (as is customary).

(סימן לו, סעיף ג וס"ק טו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 19-20)

8ea7cf03-8703-4b7b-81d6-34c15ade4771.jpgCorrections that are not an issue of k’sidron

The writing of tefillin and mezuzos must be done in the correct sequence, matching the order in which the words appear in the Torah. If a parsha, word or even letter is written out of order, the tefillin or mezuzah is pasul. There is no particular sequence involved in the writing of an individual letter, however. A letter that meets the general shape requirements but is missing details necessary for its kashrus or hidur (e.g. it is touching another letter or missing tagim) may be corrected or completed without concern for k’sidron since the main form of the letter is already in place.

(משנת סופרים, כללי שלא כסדרן)

f2f54d87-89a5-4a41-b711-a95286c19a13.jpgChok tochos on a properly formed letter

Scraping around a letter or using a method other than writing (of at least a portion of the letter) in order to help shape a letter is considered chok tochos and is pasul for a Sefer Torah, tefillin, mezuzah or get. The Torah mandates real ‘writing’ for all of these. For example, if ink dripped onto a letter and distorted the form, it may not be repaired by scraping away the extra ink.

(משנת סופרים, כללי חַק תּוֹכוֹת)

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  • The general shape of each letter is an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years. Any deviation from this form will invalidate the letter.
  • All the letters of stam, with the exception of heh and kuf, must be one unit. The left legs of the heh and kuf cannot connect to the rest of the body. If there is a minor connection, the letter is pasul.
  • Tagim (crowns) are added to the top of the following letters: shin, ayin, tes, nun, zayin, gimel and tzadi. Each of these letters has three small, distinct tagim. There is no shiur for the length of these tagim, but there is a custom to make the middle one a drop longer than the others.
  • Writing an aleph that looks like an X
  • The allusion of the beis’ two corners
  • The components of the gimel
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