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Hilchos Tefillin 36 (page 122)
מאמצע הסעיף אות א עד אות ה

Writing an Aleph that Looks Like an X
What the Two Tips of the Beis Allude To
The Components of the Gimel

Writing an aleph that looks like an X
The aleph is composed of three parts -- a yud on the top right, a diagonal line, and another yud on the lower left. The top yud connects to the diagonal line with its leg and the lower yud with the tag that extends from the top of it. Ideally, the upper yud should connect at the center of the diagonal line and the lower yud should meet the higher section of the line. If both yuds connect at the same point so that the letter looks like an X, some poskim consider the letter invalid while others permit it. (Even according to those who permit this shape, it is not the correct way to form the letter and is unworthy of being used for kisvei kodesh.)
( משנת סופרים אות א, ושעה"צ ס"ק ד; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 3)

What the two tips of the beis allude to
Two tips protrude from each end of the roof of the beis. Chazal note that the beis alludes to the creation of the world (Yerushalmi Chagiga 2:1) and these tips point to the Creator.  The left tip points heavenward to the Creator on High, while the right tip points back towards its predecessor, the aleph, signaling that Hashem is echad (one). The letter is kosher if these tips are missing, but it should be fixed. The left tip should not be made too tall or too thick; otherwise, the whole letter could be mistaken for a lamed.
( משנת סופרים אות ב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 3-4)

The components of the gimel
The gimel is composed of a roof and two legs, and combines features of a zayin and a nun. The roof is like a zayin --  squared, with three tagim on top and a thin leg [according to contemporary custom] extending downwards and slightly towards the right. The left leg of the gimel looks like an inverted yud whose thicker right leg connects to the center of the ' zayin' leg. The left leg, when joined with its connecting line and the roof, forms the shape of a nun. The right leg of the gimel should be a little longer than the left leg.
( משנת סופרים אות ג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 4-5)

  • There is a machlokes as to whether the letters shin, ayin, tes, nun, zayin, gimel and tzadi are kosher without their tagim. The Mechaber holds that they are kosher, but many Acharonim hold otherwise.  In light of this, missing tagim should be added.
  • The writing of tefillin and mezuzos must be done in the correct sequence, matching the order in which the words appear in the Torah. If a parsha, word or even letter is written out of order, the tefillin or mezuzah is pasul. An individual letter, however, may be formed in any order.
  • Scraping around a letter or using a method other than writing (at least a portion of the letter) in order to help shape a letter is considered chok tochos and is pasul for a Sefer Torah, tefillin, mezuzah or get.


  • Positioning the left leg of the heh

  • Recognizing the special vavs

  • The components of the ches