STAM 101: Ikar Tzura

Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has components which join to make its essential form – its “ikar tzura”. For example, a “vav” must have a leg that extends down, and a head that protrudes to the left of the leg. A letter that is missing any of the characteristics which make up its ikar tzura is pasul. If the deficient letter appears in a mezuza or tefilin, any repairs must take into account the requirements of writing kisidran. There are other aspects of the letters which are not part of the ikar tzura but are still required. For example, many letters have “tagin” – small protrusions or crowns that are attached to the letter. Sometimes the lack of these additional attributes invalidates the letter, sometimes it lowers the letter's status to bidi’eved, and sometimes it just makes the letter not mehudar. Either way, these non-core elements can always be added, even if it’s not kisidran.

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