THE DUAL FORMS OF FIVE LETTERS
Rejection: This is wrong! A final Mem is better than a regular Mem (for it was on the Luchos), therefore it may replace it - but the regular, inferior Mem may not be used in place of a final Mem.
(Rav Chisda): Two letters stood miraculously in the Luchos - [final] Mem and Samech (the interior was suspended, disconnected from the Luchos.
(R. Yirmiyah): [Later] prophets taught [the additional forms of] Mem, Nun, Tzadi, Pe, Chaf. (Since there was only one Mem at the time of Matan Torah, it was final Mem; regular Mem came later!)
Objection: This cannot be! "Elu ha'Mitzvos" - prophets cannot change Mitzvos [after Matan Torah - the forms of the letters affects Tefilin, Sefer Torah...]!
Answer: All the forms were already known, just we did not know which go at the [beginning or] middle of words, and which at the end - the prophets taught this.
Question: Still, this is something new, prophecy may not teach it!
Answer: The prophets merely reminded us of something which had been known and was forgotten.
(Rav Chisda): Two letters stood miraculously in the Luchos - [final] Mem and Samech.
(Rav Chisda): The Luchos could be read from the front or back (the letters were carved out from one side to the other) - if from the front one read 'Nevuv', from the back one read [reversed, i.e.] 'Buvan'.
EXPOUNDING THE ALEPH BEIS
(Rabanan): Children came to the Beis Medrash saying Chidushim [regarding the order of the Aleph-Beis] that were not said in the days of Yehoshua!
(The names of some letters are expounded like words; often we expound a word beginning with that letter.) Aleph Beis - Aleph (learn) Binah (understanding, i.e. Torah); Gimel Dalet - Gomel Dalim (bestow to the poor).
Question: [When the letters are written in order,] why does the leg of Gimel [that sticks out] point towards Dalet?
Answer: This teaches that the giver should go to the poor (do not make the poor come to you).
Question: Why does the foot of Dalet point towards Gimel?
Answer: A poor man should make himself available to one who wishes to give.
Hei Vov - this is a name of Hash-m (Ani v'Hu); Zayin Ches, Tes Yud, Chaf Lamed - if you will do so (learn Torah and bestow to the poor), Hash-m will Zan (feed) you, give you CHen (grace), MeiTiv (do good) to you, give you Yerushah (inheritance), tie to you a Keser (crown) L'Olam ha'Ba (in the world to come).
There is an open Mem and a closed Mem, alluding to an open Ma'amar (matters which may be expounded) and a closed Ma'amar (things which should not be expounded, e.g. the Merkavah);
There is a bent Nun and a straight Nun - a Ne'eman (proper person) must be bent (humble), then he will be upright in the world to come.
Samech Ayin - one must Somech (support) Aniyim (poor people); alternatively - Simanim Ase, make ways to remember Torah and acquire it;
There is a bent Pe and an open Pe - sometimes the Peh (mouth) should be open (when there is no bigger Chacham to disseminate Torah), at other times it should be closed.
There is a bent Tzadi and an open Tzadi - a Tzadik must be bent, then he will be upright in the world to come.
Question: We already expounded this regarding Nun!
Answer: This teaches that one should reach higher and higher levels of humility - Torah is given amidst awe and humility.
Kuf represents Kadosh, Reish is Rasha - the Kuf does not look at the face of the Reish, to teach that Hash-m cannot bear to look at the face of a Rasha.
Question: Why is there a [crown like a] Zayin on the top of the Kuf facing the Reish?
Answer: Hash-m says, if he will repent, I will tie a crown on him, like I have.
OTHER THINGS LEARNED FROM THE LETTERS
Question: Why is the leg of the Kuf disconnected?
Answer: If he will repent, there is an opening for him to enter.
This supports Reish Lakish:
(Reish Lakish): "Im la'Letzim Hu Yalitz vela'Anavim Yiten Chen" - Hash-m gives opportunity for one who wants to defile himself, He helps (makes an opening) for one who wants to Metaher himself.
Shin represents Sheker, Tov is [the last letter] of Emes.
Question: Why are the letters of Sheker next to each other, whereas the letters of Emes are spread out (at the beginning, middle and end of the Alef Beis)?
Answer: Falsehood is common, truth is hard to find.
Question: Why do the letters of Sheker have a single narrow leg, and the letters of Emes have a [wide] base like a brick?
Answer: Truth stands, falsehood does not.
(We now pair letters from the beginning to the end of the Aleph Beis and expound them.) Aleph Tov - he despises Me, should I desire him?
Beis Shin - he does not treasure Me, should My name rest upon him? Gimel Reish - he defiled his body, should I have mercy on him? Dalet Kuf - He locked My doors, will I not cut down his horns?
We expounded regarding Resha'im - now we expound regarding Tzadikim.
Aleph Tov Beis Shin - if you will feel Bushah (shame, in front of Me), Gimel Reish Dalet Kuf - you will live in Duk (Heaven; alternatively - the One who lives in Heaven will cause that) Hei Tzadi Vov Pe - a Chatzitzah will separate between you and anger.
Zayin Ayin Ches Samech Tes Nun - you will not tremble on account of the Satan; Yud Mem Kaf Lamed - the angel appointed over Gehinom asks Hash-m that everyone fall into his great sea (Gehinom), even Yisrael; Hash-m responds Aleph Ches Samech, Beis Tes Ayin, Gimel Yud Pe (skipping six letters each time) - I have mercy on them, for they shunned adultery;
Dalet Kuf Tzadi - they are humble, truthful and Tzadikim; Hei Lamed Kuf - you (Sar of Gehinom) have no stake in Yisrael;
Vov Mem Reish Zayin Nun Shin Tov - the Sar of Gehinom requests to be fed from all descendants of Shes;
Hash-m responds Aleph Lamed Beis Mem Gimel Nun Dalet Samech (skipping half the Aleph Beis each time), you have no stake in them (Yisrael), I am taking them to the Gan of myrtle (Eden);
Hei Ayin Vov Pe - I (the Sar) am faint from hunger! Zayin Tzadi Ches Kuf - Hash-m answers, these descend from Yitzchak; Tes Reish Yud Shin Kaf Tes - I have others (Nochrim) stored up for you.
CHIYUVIM FOR WRITING
(Mishnah): In the following cases one is liable:
He wrote two letters in one Helam, using Deyo, Sam, Sikra, Kumus, Kankantom or anything that marks;
He wrote on two walls that meet in a corner, or on two tablets that can be read together;
He wrote on his skin.
R. Eliezer says, if he scratched on his skin he is Chayav Chatas;
In the following cases he is exempt:
He wrote with [ohliquids, fruit juice, mud (alternatively - in dry dirt), dust of residue left in an inkwell, or anything that does not last;
He wrote [holding the quill] with the back of his hand, with his foot, mouth or elbow;
He wrote one letter next to a letter that was already written;
He wrote [letters] on top of letters that were already written;
He intended to write a Ches and he [omitted the roof connecting them, and thereby] wrote the letter Zayin twice;
He wrote one letter on the floor and one on a ceiling beam;
He wrote on two walls or in two columns of a tablet that cannot be read together;
R. Yehudah ben Beseira is Mechayev if he wrote one letter Notrikun (with a mark showing that it represents a word);
(Gemara): Deyo is ink, Sam is orpiment (a yellow dye).
(Rabah bar bar Chanah): Sikra is a red dye.
Kumus is sap;
(Rabah bar bar Chanah): Kankantom is vitriol.
(Mishnah): Or anything that marks.
Question: What does this come to include?
Answer (R. Chananyah - Beraisa): If a Get was written with rainwater (alternatively - juice of Tarya (a fruit)) or with gallnut juice, it is valid.
(R. Chiya - Beraisa): If he wrote a Get with lead, coals, or vitriol, it is valid.
(Mishnah): If he scratched on his skin...
(Beraisa - R. Eliezer): [We find that people do this -] Ben Stada smuggled witchcraft out of Mitzrayim scratched on his skin!
Chachamim: He was a lunatic - we do not bring proofs from lunatics [normal people do not do this].
EXEMPTIONS FOR WRITING
(Mishnah): If he wrote one letter next to a letter that was already written [he is exempt].
Question: Who is the Tana of the Mishnah?
Answer (Rabah bar Rav Huna): It is unlike R. Eliezer:
(Mishnah - R. Eliezer): If one wove another thread onto something woven, he is liable.
(Mishnah): He wrote on top of letters that were already written.
Question: Who is the Tana of the Mishnah?
Answer (Rav Chisda): It is unlike R. Yehudah:
(Beraisa - R. Yehudah): If a scribe was writing a Sefer Torah and needed to write Hash-m's name, but he intended to write 'Yehudah' and mistakenly omitted the Dalet (so the letters of Hash-m's name were written, but without the required intent for His name), he may trace the quill over the letters, to Mekadesh the name;
Chachamim say, this is not an ideal writing of Hash-m's name.
(Beraisa): If one wrote one letter and completed a Sefer, or wove one thread and completed a garment, he is liable.
Question: Who is the Tana of the Beraisa?
Answer #1 (Rabah bar Rav Huna): It is R. Eliezer, who says that if one wove another thread onto something woven, he is liable.
Answer #2 (Rav Ashi): It is even like Chachamim - they agree that one is liable for finishing something.
(R. Ami): If one wrote one letter in Tiverya and one letter in Tzipori, he is liable - it is writing, just the letters must be brought together.
Question (Mishnah): If he wrote on two walls or on two columns of a tablet that cannot be read together, he is exempt.
Answer: There, an action must be done to bring the letters together (he must cut the tablet or wall in between) - here, he need only bring them together.
(Beraisa): If one corrected one letter, he is liable.
Question: If one is exempt for writing one letter, why is he liable for correcting one letter?!
Answer #1 (Rav Sheshes): He removed the roof in the middle of Ches, thereby 'writing' the letter Zayin twice.
Answer #2 (Rava): Even if he removed the protrusion [in the top right corner] of a Dalet, thereby making it a Reish, he is liable (for this fixes the Sefer - it is forbidden to have an errant Sefer).
(Beraisa #1): If one intended to write one letter and he wrote two, he is liable;
Contradiction (Beraisa #2): He is exempt.
Resolution: If the letters require crowns, he is exempt [for he is not yet finished].