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Hilchos Tefillin 32 (page 83)

When Two Letters Touch
When Two Tagim Touch
Writing Stam With the Left Hand or With a Pen Held in the Mouth


When two letters touch

Every letter in stam must be completely surrounded by parchment, and no letter may touch another one. If removing the ink connecting two letters will compromise the form of one of them, that letter is invalid. If it will not compromise the form of either letter, there is a machlokes as to whether it must be corrected and the halacha follows the stringent view. If the discovery was made during a public reading of the Torah and there is no one present capable of fixing it (without damaging the sefer Torah), the reading may be completed.

(סעיף ד, וס"ק יב-יג, וביה"ל ד"ה כל; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 18)

When two tagim touch

Seven letters are crowned with triple tagim (crowns designed like three straight lines extending from the roof of the letter)-shin, ayin, tes, nun, zayin, gimel and tzadi. According to most poskim, the letters are kosher if the tagim were left off. Tagim that touch in a way that gives them the form of a letter (i.e. a shin or an ayin) must be repaired. There is a machlokes as to whether tagim from different letters which touch one another must be repaired. It is preferable to be stringent. If the connection between the tagim alters the form of a letter, it must be corrected. Such a correction would be considered a 'new' writing in the case of tefillin and mezuzos and would be subject to the relevant halachos regarding the order in which sections should be written (see Shulchan Aruch seif 23).

(סעיף ד, ס"ק טז, וביה"ל ד"ה צריך; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 20-21)



Writing stam with the left hand or with a pen held in the mouth

All stam must be written with the right hand. Materials written with the left hand can be used, without a beracha, only if no others are available. A left-handed sofer should write with his left hand. An ambidextrous sofer should write with his right hand, but the material is kosher if he used his left hand. Someone who writes with one hand but performs all other functions with his other hand should not serve as a sofer lechatchila. There is a machlokes regarding someone who writes by holding the pen in his mouth or by using the backs of his fingers. The disagreement centers around whether such writing can be treated as writing with the left hand or whether it is pasul.

(סעיף ה וס"ק יז-יט; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 28)



  • The poskim list five acceptable pigments for making ink for stam: bark, gallnut water, carbon (from wood or oil), guma and kankantom.
  • There is a longstanding practice to make the ink from three ingredients -- gallnut water, guma and kankantom -- specifically because they form a long lasting ink. These ingredients should be cooked together to form a thick ink.
  • Ink for stam should be dark black; all other colors are invalid.



  • The difference between the sirtut of mezuza and tefillin

  • Which layer of the hide is used for stam

  • Tanning the hide for writing