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In Masechet Shabbat 104a, it talks about the shapes of the letters, and meaning behind it. One thing it says is:

ומאי טעמא שיקרא אחדא כרעיה קאי ואמת מלבן לבוניה?

And what is the reason that [letters of the word] שקר (falsehood) stand on one [leg], while [the letters of the word] אמת (truth) are like blocks? (Translation mine)


As you can see, each letter stands on one "leg". The ש tapers down to a point at the bottom.

For comparison, the word אמת:


But this is using Ashkenazi script. Let's look at a Sfardi ש now:

Sfardi ש

It stands on a full base, similar to the words in אמת! How can this be? It seems to invalidate the teaching here.

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Interestingly, ש on Hebrew inscriptions up to about the 12th or 13th century CE appears always with a pointed bottom (according to the charts from Yardeni's "The Book of Hebrew Script"). – Argon Jun 25 '14 at 13:24
It's midrash.... We don't get halakha from midrash. And certainly not so tangential a midrash! – Charles Koppelman Jun 25 '14 at 14:05
@CharlesKoppelman I didn't tag the question as halacha. I'm merely asking according to this shita. – Scimonster Jun 25 '14 at 14:07
@Scimonster he's saying it isn't really a shita to be asking according to. – Double AA Jun 25 '14 at 14:39
FTR That is not Ashkenazi script but Ari script. – Double AA Jun 25 '14 at 14:39
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Indeed, the Beit Yosef (OC 36) cites the Gemara you reference and claims that the ש should have a pointed base. The Peri Megadim (EA end of 32) is unsure if this is a necessary component of the letter. The Keset HaSofer (5:2:ש) implies it would be Kosher Bedieved, but one should be very careful to avoid a flat base. The Mishna Berura (Mishnat Sofrim ש) is not so sure though.

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If you look at a sefer torah written in the 'Sefaradi' style you will see that the Shin is not quite the same as the one you posted. Although it does have more of a base, you will see that it is still on a tilt. Only the bottom left corner reaches the bottom, the right side is raised. See this image for an example (from here):

Scan of the beginning of a sefer Torah described above, including an example of the letter 'shin'

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