Genesis 23:2:

וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה, בְּקִרְיַת אַרְבַּע הִוא חֶבְרוֹן--בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וַיָּבֹא, אַבְרָהָם, לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה, וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ.‏
And Sarah died in Kiriatharba--the same is Hebron--in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

The word V'Livkosa is written with a small Kaf in the Sefer Torah. Baal HaTurim explains that Avraham only cried a little bit and therefore there is a small Kaf. According to this explanation, why was the Kaf selected to be the small letter and not the Lamed, the Bais, the Taf, or the Hai? Is there a reason the Kaf was selected over the word's other letters?

  • 1
    I would think the best candidates are the kaf and the beis, which belong to the root word. A small hei, for example, might suggest that the Avraham was primarily mourning someone/something other than Sarah, which is not the case (despite the additional mourning indicated in the answers below).
    – Fred
    Oct 24, 2013 at 17:23
  • Warning: The following may be farfetched. The mispar katan of the rest of the word equals the standard gematria of the kaf. The small kaf, which therefore might be considered in some sense half of the gematria of the word, may indicate a diminished mourning in the same way that the double "בְּכוּ בָכוֹ" (Yirmiyahu 22:10) indicates excessive mourning (Moed Katan 27b).
    – Fred
    Oct 24, 2013 at 17:42

3 Answers 3


Chasdei Dovid explains per Rashi that says Bas Kuf K'Bas Chaf L'Yofi that Sara was as beautiful at 100 as a 20 year old. Therfore there is a small Chaf as he did not cry regarding her lost beauty, he cried regarding the loss of her Yiras HaChet.

  • Parallel to this comment: This doesn't answer the question according to the Ba'al HaTurim, who explicitly provided reasons for Avraham's diminished crying (that Sarah was already old and that she was partially responsible for her own death). At the time of this answer, the question was not edited to make it extra clear that an explanation was sought in according with the Ba'al HaTurim's commentary, but I think that should still have been inferred from the context of the question. Still interesting, though.
    – Fred
    Oct 24, 2013 at 23:42

Sefer Ziknei Machane Yehuda - page 57 - in the name of Rabbi Shalom Shachana M'Lublin says that according to the Gemara Bava Basra 16b, Avraham had a daughter named Bakol. He says that she died at the same time as Sara. Without the Chaf the remaining letters spell U'Lbita and for his daughter, as Avraham came to mourn both his wife and his daughter at the same time.

  • Did you mean that R' Shalom Shachana M'Lublin is the source that Avraham lost his daughter at the same time as he lost Sarah, or that he is the source for that explanation of the Kaf? (It reads like you meant the former.)
    – Seth J
    Oct 24, 2013 at 15:52
  • 1
    The question asks according to the Baal Haturim, which says the small letter indicates a small amount of crying. I don't see how this answers the question.
    – msh210
    Oct 24, 2013 at 18:15
  • @msh210 Technically, this answer preceded the addition of that phrase to the Q.
    – Double AA
    Oct 24, 2013 at 20:39
  • @C. Ben Yosef, considering U'lbita reading, can't we just say that Avraham and his daughter came to eulogize Sarah?
    – Eli83
    Nov 18, 2019 at 15:08

See the תורה שלמה:

ולבכתה, כ׳ קטנה כל מי שאינו בוכה על אדם כשורה [כשר] כ״ף וכ״ף וכ״ף פורעין לו

(מדרש אותיות קטנות)

In the footnote he writes:

ובהערות המו״ל בדפוס פריז מעיר אולי ר״ל מי שאינו מכה כף על כף. [כלשון יחזקאל כ״א, י״ט ... ] לצרה של אדם כשר מכה לו ה' בכפו

The phrase וְהַךְ כַּף אֶל כָּף in יחזקאל- refers to the clapping of mourners. See Rashi there. One who does not clap his hands (in proper eulogy) will be smitten by the hand (= kaf) of God....

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .