Now I'm no Sofer by any means, although I do have a strong interest in the different Hebrew calligraphic traditions. All of which I find extremely beautiful in their own way.

While studying the style of K'thav Chabad, I couldn't help but notice that the Heh after Waw in the Tetragrammaton always slightly differs in appearance to the one preceding it.

If there are any Soferim (or just knowledgeable folk) who could enlighten as to why this is, I would be most grateful.


1 Answer 1


Good eye! You're noticing a Kabbalistic practice called כתיבת השם בחילוק writing God's name by parts. I won't begin to pretend to understand it, but those who practice it write the different limbs of the letters of the Tetragrammaton in a specific order with specific Kabbalistic meditations for each one, and you end up with some of the letters looking a bit different. (Usually the best give-away is the left leg of the first ה poking leftwards.)

Note even in communities that generally incorporate Kabbalistic practices, not all do this, either because they hold there's no point in doing the specific writing motions if you don't understand the Kabbalistic intentions (which is common) or because they interpret the Kabbalistic source texts as prescribing a set of motions which don't wind up with the letters looking different. But it's certainly not surprising at all to see it popping up in a Chabad scribe's work.

  • 1
    Not to be confused, of course, with writing God's name by substitution AKA כינוי. #Calc2
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 4, 2021 at 19:02

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