NOTES ON THE HEBREW ALPHABET


BY LINDA TOMBACK




VERY ROUGH DRAFT!!!!
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 12:47:54
From: linda tomback
To: Jan Haag
Subject: HEBREW ALPHABET

Dear Jan,

I am not a Hebrew scholar...when I was growing up, the men studied and the women kept house...one of my regrets to be sure.

The following is from the website. Maybe it will answer some of your questions.

"Styles of Writing

The style of writing illustrated above (JAN - THIS DID NOT REPRODUCE BUT IS AT THE TOP OF used in Hebrew books WEBISTE) is the one most commonly seen in Hebrew books. It is referred to as block print or sometimes Assyrian text.

For sacred documents, such as torah scrolls or the scrolls inside tefillin and mezuzot, there is a special writing style with "crowns" (crows-foot-like marks coming up from the upper points) on many of the letters. This style of writing is known as STA"M (an abbreviation for "Sifrei Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzot," which is where you will see that style of writing. For more information about the STA"M alphabet, including illustrations and relevant rules, see Hebrew Alphabet used in writing STA"M.

There is another style used for handwriting, in much the same way that cursive is used for the Roman (English) alphabet. This modern script style is illustrated at right.

Another style is used in certain texts to distinguish the body of the text from commentary upon the text. This style is known as Rashi Script, in honor of Rashi, the greatest commentator on the Torah and the Talmud. The alefbet at left is an example of Rashi Script.

Transliteration The process of writing Hebrew words in the Roman (English) alphabet is known as transliteration. Transliteration is more an art than a science, and opinions on the correct way to transliterate words vary widely. This is why the Jewish festival of lights (in Hebrew, Chet-Nun-Kaf-He) is spelled Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanuka, and many other interesting ways. Each spelling has a legitimate phonetic and orthographic basis; none is right or wrong."

And this is only a drop in the bucket. The Hebrew text - Torah - history etc. has been the subject of discussion for at least six thousand years. The Jewish mind (in my opinon) has an inborn gene that delves into everything and never stops searching for answers - and that includes why the Hebrew alphabet is written this way and that way, etc etc etc...

The Rabbis used to come see my grandmother and they would have discussions for days on end about EVERYTHING...

Sorry I cannot really give you a definitive answer...

xxxxx linda





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