[b-hebrew] ALEF-LAMED combo

Maurice A. O'Sullivan mauros at iol.ie
Wed Jul 9 11:48:25 EDT 2003

At 14:38 09/07/2003, Yigal Levin wrote:

>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).

Could I suggest that there was a technical reason for this in the days of 
hand-set type?
In that system, each letter was a separate metal-casting, taken from its 
own compartment in its case [ from which we get "lower-case" and 
"upper-case" ]-- put together in a composing-stick, and loaded into the 
printing-frame. The job of distributing [ ?throwing ] the individual 
letters back into the cases was left to the apprentice, and some letters 
were more easily damaged than others.

In English, for instance, certain letters, such as " f ", particularly in 
the italic font, could have the "cross-bar" of the "f" projecting beyond 
the solid metal body, and so the practice grew up of having "ff" cast as 
one body, thus giving what is called a ligature (a.k.a monogram) There were 
other combinations of easily-damaged letters, too.

Perhaps both hand-set  aleph and lamed were combined for the same practical 

Just a suggestion <g>

Maurice A. O'Sullivan  [ Bray, Ireland ]
mauros at iol.ie

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list