So, for instance, one could say that the nekudot over the word "kissed" in the verse in which Esau kissed Jacob suggest that Esau tried to bite Jacob because the line of dots looks like bite marks. What are some examples like that which focus on the appearance of letters, words, or parts of words?

  • Megilah 16b
    – Double AA
    Jun 23, 2014 at 17:50
  • 1
    – Double AA
    Jun 23, 2014 at 17:51
  • Are you asking about the way letters look in general (like the current answers), or the way they are written in a particular place in Tanakh (like the example in the question)? Jun 27, 2014 at 20:00
  • Actually, I was really thinking of the way they look in particular places in Tanach (like the large Bet in Breishit). Jun 29, 2014 at 21:35

2 Answers 2


Shabbos 104a

מ"ט פשוטה כרעיה דגימ"ל לגבי דל"ת שכן דרכו של גומל חסדים לרוץ אחר דלים ומ"ט פשוטה כרעיה דדל"ת לגבי גימ"ל דלימציה ליה נפשיה ומ"ט מהדר אפיה דדל"ת מגימ"ל דליתן ליה בצינעה כי היכי דלא ליכסיף מיניה

Why is the leg of the gimmel sticking towards the dalet? Because the "gomel" - bestower- of kindness runs after the "dalim" - downtrodden. Why is the leg of the dalet straight against the gimmel? To make himself available (and not need the benevolent benefactor to chase after him - Rashi). And why is the dalet facing away from the gimmel? To give to him in privacy in order to not embarrass him.

מאי טעמא מהדר אפיה דקו"ף מרי"ש אמר הקב"ה אין אני יכול להסתכל ברשע ומאי טעמא מהדרה תגיה דקו"ף לגבי רי"ש אמר הקב"ה אם חוזר בו אני קושר לו כתר כמותי ומ"ט כרעיה דקו"ף תלויה דאי הדר ביה ליעייל וליעול בהך

Why is the kuf turned away from the reish? Hashem (the Holy one - kuf represents Kadosh, see Gemara there) says "I cannot bear to look at the rasha (evil one). And why is the crown of the kuf facing the reish? Hashem says "If he returns, I wil give him a crown like Mine." And why is the leg of the kuf hanging (unattached)? So that if he returns, he can go in through that opening (which faces the reish).

See there for much more of the aleph beis.

  • Wow, i just learned this today and was going to post, but it looks like you got to it first. :)
    – Scimonster
    Jun 23, 2014 at 19:48
  • I'm uncertain whether inherent in your question you wanted to know about "tagin" - the marks on he 7 letters that get "crowns" when they are written in the Torah. There is an interesting article at people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/MHCS00_Tagin.html. Other than an overview, that article has many good cross-refeernces.
    – DanF
    Jun 24, 2014 at 13:55
  • @DanF You should probably move that comment of yours to the question.
    – Double AA
    Jun 24, 2014 at 18:34

Thank you! Also, apparently, bMenachot 29b:

R. Ashi said, I have observed that scribes who are most particular add a vertical stroke to the roof of the letter heth,and suspend the [inner] leg of the letter he. They add a vertical stroke to the roof of the letter heth, signifying thereby that He lives in the heights of the world. (Soncino translation here).

  • See further on 29b for explanation of the suspended leg of the "ה", which is very similar to the explanation for the suspended "ק" mentioned in YEZ's answer (from Shabbos 104a).
    – Fred
    Jun 27, 2014 at 19:56

You must log in to answer this question.

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