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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 99)
מסעיף כו עד סעיף כח

Faded Letters
Enhancing the Lettering with Chemicals
Circumstances in Which a Sofer is Permitted to Erase a Letter from Hashem's Name

Faded letters 

Ink that at the time of writing was any color other than black (e.g. brown, red, etc.) is pasul. Likewise, it is pasul if it started out black but soon changed to reddish-brown or any other color. The change in color indicates that the ingredients were not the right ones. Some poskim disqualify the ink even if the color changed after a long period. According to other poskim, if the black color remained for a considerable amount of time before changing, it can be assumed that the ink was the proper color at the time it was used and the discoloration was the result of old age and not poor ingredients. Even so, it is proper to trace the faded letters with new ink to re-blacken them.

(סעיף כז וס"ק קכח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 171)


Enhancing the lettering with chemicals

A modern method of protecting and preserving manuscripts involves the application of a clear substance over the writing that it is not visible once it is applied. There is an opinion that permits this coating despite questions of chatzitza since its function is to enhance (preserve) the lettering and it is thereby batul to the lettering. There are also chemical applications that can enhance faded script. Some poskim permit using this method to revitalize ink that faded because of age. Others limit its use to situations in which the lettering is still kosher according to all opinions.

(ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 169-170)

Circumstances under which it is permissible to erase a letter from Hashem's name

It is forbidden to erase any letter from Hashem's name, and mid'rabonon this applies even to a portion of a letter. Nonetheless, two letters that were connected at the time of writing may be detached, despite the possibility of erasing part of a letter. These letters are pasul as is, and erasing is permissible for the purpose of correcting them. If, however, the letters were formed correctly and became attached later, the Mishna Berura holds that they are pasul m'safek and cannot be separated. Since there is a possibility that they are kosher, the 'correction' might not be necessary and erasing would therefore have no redeeming purpose. If there is a question as to when they became pasul, they may be fixed.

(סעיף כו, ס"ק קכו-קכז, וביה"ל ד"ה אם)



  • There are four categories of fixing letters: 1) completing a missing essential component 2) erasing a connector between two letters, 3) repairing a broken letter and 4) repairing a broken letter that looked like two letters because of the break.

  • Broken letters can be divided into four categories: 1) a break visible from a distance, 2) a break that must be held to the light to be seen, 3) a break which cannot be easily spotted from afar but is easily noticed up close and 4) a break that can be seen from up close only after scrutiny.




  • If the top of a lamed exdends into the interior of a ches

  • Why must the sofer read the words before he writes them?

  • Leaving margins around the writing