Chazal say that the Bais Hamikdosh was destroyed because of the sin of bitul Torah as per the Novi’s words. Additionally, Chazal tell us that Hashem overlooked the aveiros of avodah zara, gilui arayos and shfichas domim, but refused to overlook the aveirah of bitul Torah.

This is astounding! These three aveiros of avodah zara, gilui arayos and murder are the severest aveiros in the entire Torah! It is the biggest revolt against Hashem! One is obligated to forfeit his very life to avoid these aveiros! Yet, Chazal tell us that the sin of bitul Torah is even greater!

The Alter from Kelm asks: Chazal tell us that Hashem is not mevater on anything. How do we begin to understand His being mevater on these three cardinal sins?

The Alter explains that if a person descends to the abyss of morality to commit any of these three aveiros, he has already lost his humanity, his tzuras ho’odam. His animalistic behavior reduced him to a sub-human level. At this point, these behaviors are congruent to who he is. He cannot be punished based on human expectations. Rather, he is deserving of punishment for the cause of these immoral behaviors. The root cause is the neglect of learning Torah. He should have been aware of the outcome of one who ceases to be immersed in limud haTorah. He is faulted for disregarding the fact that these horrible aveiros are the outcome of bitul Torah.

Hashem was not mevater on these aveiros at all. Instead He punished for the source and root cause of them.

The Brisker Rav pointed out that the pesukim in Parshas Vayelech gives the formula to overcome the most severe aveiros.

The possuk relates that upon the demise of Moshe Rabeinu, “Vikam ha’am hazeh vizana acharei elohei neichar ha’aretz”- “The people will stray after the gods of the land”. This refers to avodah zara. The possuk continues, “Va’azovani”- “They will forsake me”. He explained that this means that they will totally disregard Me.” The possuk follows, “Viheifer es brisi”- “They will forsake bris mila”. These pesukim depict a clear picture of complete degeneration and total abandonment of Hashem and the Torah. Yet, the possuk continues, “Viata kisvu lochem es hashira etc. “- “Now, write the Torah and teach it to them”.

Concluded the Brisker Rav, “Limud haTorah will correct all the problems and will right all the wrongs. Even after descending to the lowliness of worshiping avodah zara and abandoning bris mila, Torah study can and will rectify everything!

What is the proper way to write a tes?

The letter tes is formed by creating a shape similar to the letter chof and connecting a zayin to its left side. It should have three tagim at its top. The top of the chof-like form should tip down towards its middle. Care should be taken not to curve it in towards the middle as in the form of the letter pei. If this occurred in the case of a Sefer Torah, it should be fixed. For tefillin and mezuzah, however, the letter can be left as is if the sofer had already continued writing. If the top of the tes makes contact with the inner edge of the round side of the letter, it is pasul. It may not touch the zayin on the left side either. Some poskim understand that if it does touch these areas, the letter will not be considered mukaf gvil (surrounded by parchment). If this view is correct, the letter can be fixed even after subsequent letters were written. Others explain that if the top of the tes connects to these areas, the tes will look like another letter. In their view, it may not be fixed if the sofer wrote subsequent letters.

משנת סופרים אות ט וביה"ל ד"ה ולא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 3

Does the letter yud need to have an uketz and a tag?

The letter yud is comprised of four parts: its roof, leg, tag at the top and uketz (point) at the bottom. The tag should be short, so that the letter does not look like a reish. The leg should be considerably shorter than the leg of a vav. The uketz is a small point which juts out from the bottom of the roof on the left and points leftwards. The tag is a line which rises from the top of the roof on the left. It should be longer than the uketz but not so long so as to create the look of a lamed. Some Achronim say that it is not necessary to make a tag or an uketz, as long as the corners of the roof come to a point and are not rounded. Based on this opinion, if one finds a Sefer Torah that has yuds written in this way, it is not necessary to fix them.

משנת סופרים אות י; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 1 ,2 ו־8

What are the integral components of the yud?

The Gemara states that if a yud is missing its kotz, it is invalid. The Rishonim disagree on the definition of the kotz of the yud. Rashi explains that it means the leg of the letter. Rabeinu Tam understands that it means the uketz at the bottom of the roof. A third opinion understands that it refers to the tag on the roof. Practically, one must be stringent to make sure that it is not missing its leg or uketz. If the yud is missing its leg, it must be fixed before the writing continues. If only the uketz is missing, however, it can be fixed even after subsequent letters are written. Since a missing uketz does not distort the shape of the letter, adding the uketz is not viewed as writing out of order. If the yud is missing the tag, the letter is still kosher but it should be fixed as soon as possible.

'משנת סופרים אות י, וביה"ל ד"ה גם וד"ה יגרור; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 5 ו־9
  • The proper place to form the left leg of the letter hei is beneath the left edge of the letter’s roof. If it was not placed by the edge, the letter can be fixed either by shortening the roof or erasing and rewriting the leg.

  • At the beginning of Parshas Pinchos, the letter vav in the word sholom is supposed to be ketuah (severed). Some poskim explain that the leg of the vav should be cut off. Others explain that the proper method is to write a complete letter, but to make it smaller than the rest of the letters.

  • According to many Rishonim, the proper way to write the letter ches is by writing two zayins and connecting their roofs with a bridge that has a pointed hump. The zayin on the right should be rounded at its upper right corner.

  • Can a chof have a square corner?

  • How long should an “ende” letter be extended?

  • Should there be a “floor” at the bottom of the lamed?
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
Daf Hayomi B'Halacha Shiur
Rav Asher Eisenberger
Synopsis of Today's Halachos
Rabbi Yerachmiel Garfield
This Week's Limud