[b-hebrew] ALEF-LAMED combo

Yigal Levin Yigal-Levin at utc.edu
Wed Jul 9 09:38:42 EDT 2003

Hi Deborah (or Michael or both),

Yes, combining the Aleph and Lamed used to be standard practice in many
Hebrew humashim (printed Torah volumes) and siddurim (prayer books). I
understand that it was both a space-saving measure and in order to avoid
printing the sacred name El (similar to using two Yods instead of YHWH). I
have a feeling that it might have been influenced by the way Arabic
combines the same letters (in the opposite order). The practice has been
dropped by modern priters, but is still found in what you called "cheapy"
books, which are usually photocopies of old prints.


At 04:03 PM 7/8/2003 -0700, Deborah Millier wrote:
>Dear list members,
>Six months ago, I purchased in Jerusalem some "cheapy"
>books of Psalms--one for myself, one for a friend in
>the States.  Recently she showed me something I had
>noticed but never pondered: in several places the text
>combines the ALEF and the LAMED to make what appears
>to be a single symbol for the two letters.  I
>speculated that because the print quality was
>obviously sub-par, it probably was a way to save
>money...or something.  Then a couple of days ago, this
>same friend brings over a book of Jewish art,
>inscriptions, etc. and HINNEH!, there on a memorial
>inscription from the 1700s was this phenomena again.
>Does anybody know anything about the practice of
>combining ALEF and LAMED?  Any info to take back to my
>friend would be appreciated.  Plus, now I'm kind of
>interested to know.
>-- Michael Millier
>Do you Yahoo!?
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Dr. Yigal Levin
Dept. of Philosophy and Religion
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
615 McCallie Avenue
Chattanooga TN 37403-2598

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