When writing a Torah the letters שעטנזגצ (as well as the "final" letters, ן and ץ) have "crowns" on top of the letters.

What is the purpose of these crowns and why were these specific letters chosen as the ones to have them?

(I am aware of these letters as being the ones with the crowns based on Ashkenaz tradition. If there is another tradition that uses other letters, please indicate this in your answer.)

  • 1
    see Menachos 29
    – sam
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 0:22
  • In regards to the early texts mentioning tagin Prof. A. Yardeni says: "parallel to the Masoretic effort to preserve the biblical text, there was an attempt, beginning at [the Talmudic era], to preserve the scribal tradition of the scared writings" (The Book of Hebrew Script, P. 212). Presumably, it was usual to write holy texts during this period with tagin on the letters recorded by Hazal as a stylistic choice and the rabbis decided to canonize what was the current form. Note that the tagin of yore do not resemble at all those of today; they were much less conspicuous.
    – Argon
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 2:50
  • Read this book: artscroll.com/Books/9780899061931.html
    – ezra
    Commented Dec 12, 2016 at 15:12
  • @Argon "scared" they are.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 7:36
  • @AlBerko what do you mean?
    – Argon
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


In a responsum on the topic of the crowns (1:79 in the Machon Yerushalayim edition of Shu"t HaRambam) Rambam writes that the reason for the crowns is unknown.

ואין ידוע טעם לזה ואי אפשר לכוללם בכלל

  • I'm definitely going to need to look at the complete response from Rambam for this later. Thanks for reference. There are many early sources that discuss the crowns on the letters and their meaning. It would seem logical that Rambam was at least exposed to those sources. Is it possible, based on what you are reading, that his comment is dealing with a specific detail and not the subject of the crowns in general? Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 19:56

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