5

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)

שקר

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:

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.

  • 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
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    @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
9

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.

  • The same issue should apply to a Lamed, about whom the Midrash says it has no base but is standing on its leg like the Keruvim in the Mikdash were always standing. – Double AA Jul 17 '17 at 15:01
  • The Otiot R Akvia says Shin has no Raglayim and says it has "branches above but no roots below" which could be why it falls, not because it's pointy or flat at the bottom. – Double AA Aug 30 '17 at 20:18
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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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