How To Write Letters in a Sefer Torah, Tefillin, and Mezuzot

From Halachipedia

A Torah Scroll, Tefillin, and Mezuzot must be written by a competent God-fearing scribe. The calligraphy (Tzurat HaOtiot) is governed by rules that could render a poor quality script or writing invalid.

Ktav (Scripts)

There are a number of different scripts that are used traditionally for writing, including Beit Yosef, Arizal, Vellish (also known as Sephardi) and Chabad, used by different communities over the generations.

  1. According to Sephardi poskim, all the scripts are acceptable, but it's best to wear Tefillin that was written in line with one's family heritage.[1]

Specific Letters

Bet - (ב)

  1. The Morrocan tradition for Bet is to have a rounded top, not a cornered one.[2]

Zayin - (ז)

  1. Moroccans draw Zayin with a bent head, angled up, not a square one.[3]

Chet - (ח)

  1. The Moroccan tradition is to have a flat, straight, whole bar for the top of the Chet, but nowadays everyone writes a Chet with two Zayins to fulfill Rashi's view.[4]

Tet - (ט)

  1. Morrocans draw a Sephardi Zayin for the left leg of the Tet[5]

Yud - (י)

  1. Morrocan Sofrim were not accustomed to include the left "Kutzo Shel Yud" of Rabbenu Tam.[6]

Kaf Peshutah - (כ)

  1. Some say the Moroccan Sofrim drew a Kaf Peshutah like a long Dalet, not like a Resh, but others say it's not rounded nor cornered. Regardless, whatever one wants is fine.[7]

Lamed - (ל)

  1. One should be careful that the head of the Lamed does not enter the space in the middle of a Heh or Chet even if it doesn't touch the legs.[8]
  2. If the head of the Lamed juts into the space under a Dalet making it look like a Heh or under a Kaf and changes the appearance, some consider it invalid entirely. If it just begins to enter the space on the right, it's fine, but on the left is a discussion. Some say it depends if he drew the Lamed from top to bottom, thereby ruining the upper letter before the Lamed was done, as opposed to drawing it from bottom to top, which would complete the Lamed without giving the impression that it's part of the upper letter.[9]

Nun Peshutah - (נ)

  1. A Moroccan Nun is like a Sephardi Zayin: its head is bent a little upwards, and its left is stations a little towards the inside.[10]


  1. Yabia Omer (vol. 2 Yoreh Deah 20, vol. 9 Orach Chaim 108:24), Yechaveh Daat (2:3, see 4:3), Or LeTzion 2:3:7. See Bet Yechezkel p. 225 who quotes the Minchat Yitzchak 4:47 who says that the Chazon Ish who originally invalidated the Sephardi ketav later accepted it. See also cites Chatom Sofer EH 8 who allowed Sephardi ketav and a story about Rav Chaim Volozhin who allowed ketav velish.
  2. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1) citing the Chida in LeDavid Emet and Kol Yaakov
  3. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1) citing the Chida in LeDavid Emet
  4. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1). See Shevet HaLevi 5:7.
  5. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1)
  6. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1) in the name of Rav Shalom Meshash. See Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 265) and Chazon Ish 9:3
  7. >Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1)
  8. Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 32:28)
  9. Or LeTzion 2:3:6. See Yabia Omer 4 OC 6, cited in 9 OC 108:23.
  10. Magen Avot (Orach Chaim 36:1)