Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chesed,Gevurah and the Tagim

I sent my Mezuza to be checked by an expert sofer and the first thing he pointed out to me concerns the Tagim of the Shaatnez Getz letters. He told me that the Tag on the right should be higher that the Tag on the left, something I never heard before. In the picture below you can see that in my Shin, the taguim in the left and in the right are as tall - according to this Minhag, the one in the right should be higher.

This expert sofer noted that today many Rabbis require the sofrim to write all Tagim like this, much like the widespread Minhag of making the right-hand Tag of the Lamed higher than the left-side Tag (see pic in the right).

But what's the reason?

According to the Kaballa, the right symbolizes Chesed, kindness, while the left symbolizes Gevurah, austerity, and this concept is often times mentioned by Chassidic Rebbes. That's the same underlying reason why the strings of the Tefillin Shel Rosh should be longer on the right side than in the left side - we always try to ensure that Chesed is in more evidence.

Not long ago, a Chassidic Rabbi was in my parents house and they asked him for a Bracha for Parnassa. The Rebbe asked them to check if the Mezuzas of the house had the right-hand Tagim higher than the left-side ones, since Parnassa is connected to Chesed and therefore having the high right Tag is a Bracha for Parnasa.

I often times do a "rainbow" Tag (see below) when two or three Shaatnez Getz letters appear together, but it seems that I will have to stop it if I am to comply with this Minhag - in the rainbow Tag the Tag of the right is the smallest.


Anonymous said...

legal, parabens

Anonymous said...

legal, parabens

tefillin rabbi said...

While it is true and well known that the right side represents chesed and we want it to overpower din/gevura and hence there is a preference for the right tag to be taller than the left on Shaatnez getz, this by no means makes the ksav not mehudar and is considered one of the least critical hiddurim. I am not aware of rabbanim requiring the sofrim to write like this and I am well informed. For a higher end ksav it may be pointed out to the sofer as something he can do to further improve the hiddur. On the other hand, as was briefly mentioned, the right tag of the Lamed should be taller than the left is brought down through the sources and the Mishna Brura is very adamant about it but even so, the vast majority of poskim still consider the ksav to be preferably kosher if the sofer isn;t strick about this but is considered a very basic requirement for a ksav to be in the realm of hiddur.

However, if one is in need of chesed from above, it is certainly worthwhile to make sure the tagin of the lamed in the mezuzahs and tefillin are made with the right taller than the left and if possible, in the shaatnez getz tagin as well.

Anonymous said...

This concept is well documented in tagei lamed. its all lover shulchan oruch. for Shatnez gets its just a kaballah, very few ppl. are makpid, its not a mainstream hiddur.
More of a hiddur is to make the right side of the choteteres of teh ches thicker than the left side, for reasons of chesed and gevurah. That is a well documented kaballa from the arizal. i don't know why more sofrim are not particular about this.

YK said...


I actually didn't know that this was the reason behind the thick choteret in the Chet. Thank you for sharing.