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diary of a sofer - part 23

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer


The last idea before I started writing probably took the longest amount of thought and consideration and involves but one word. Having sent the tikkun off for proof reading, Rabbi Meyer wrote back suggesting that in chapter 3 the author uses the word “they” in quite a few places to refer to the Nazis and whether it would be possible, as a visual reference to echo the concept of “Timcheh

et zecher Amalek” (blot out the rememberance of Amalek (Deut 25:19)) so it would look as if we were erasing them from the face of the earth. Before a sofer writes he tests the quill by writing the word 'Amalek' and blotting it out and I suggested that this could instead be done to the word 'Natsit' (Nazi)  in 1:8, which was a word I actually felt very uncomfortable seeing in a liturgical text.

However by blotting out the word with the three lines one uses for Amalek then the Megillah actually becomes non kasher by STaM standards which calls for unjoined unbroken letters with only one exception, the broken ‘vav’ (Numbers 25:12).   However I thought I might be able to use this as the template and perhaps have some sort of break in the words.  Perhaps a reverse out of the three lines that blot Amalek so that the letters are not fully broken but are cut through - there used to be an English letraset font called Shatter, which could have given the right effect if it could be done in Hebrew writing, but this proved unworkable.

Instead I looked at thinning the letters substantially.  This would be allowed as whilst the convention is that a ‘gag’ (roof) and a ‘moshav’ (base) is always one nib width thick there is no actual prescribed width for these and they can be thinner or even thicker if still recognisably those letters.

Meanwhile Rabbi Meyer had also had an excellent idea involving 'k'ri' (how it is pronounced) and 'k'tiv' (how it is written). Whilst the transmission of the Torah through generations of scribes has been amazingly accurate, some errors in writing have crept in but the Massorah (traditional text) preserves how they are to be read. Rabbi Meyer meant for me to deliberately spell it wrongly to blot out the word.  Having tried different transpositions of letters, the sequence 'nun aleph yud tsadi taf' , as my father pointed out, would retain the 'shoresh' (root) 'nun aleph tsadi' which means to blaspheme, to insult or to scorn - this is a biblical word so wasn't invented post Nazism but is extremely suitable.

I was still looking at these ideas as either or, and then it occurred that we could do both the transposition and the thin letters!  There was no reason why we couldn't really really blot this horrible word out through both methods. Also, taggin, say the Rabbis, symbolise little daggers to protect us from the demons Satan, Ez and Gatz and so as a final gesture these letters would not enjoy that protection either and the taggin were deliberately not affixed. .

Mordechai Pinchas

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