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 Dec 12 '16 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 Dec 12 '16 at 2:50
  • Read this book: artscroll.com/Books/9780899061931.html – ezra Dec 12 '16 at 15:12

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

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