[b-hebrew] ALEF-LAMED (in handwritten form) example from Sephardic correspondence

David Sheby hosp at voicenet.com
Thu Jul 10 10:30:58 EDT 2003

Group: This is response to multiple comments about space saving, technical 
pre-printing examples, etc.

The alef-lamed ligature was often used
in handwritten correspondence among
Sephardim. I have a number of LATE examples
from the Ottoman Empire, nearby Balkans,
and Egypt from the mid 1800's to early 1900's.
The letter is of a unique shape that combines the
alef and lamed and it is treated as a separate letter.
I have often wondered what the name of this special letter was  and how it was
referred to: I saw a teaching manual from Istanbul (Constantinople) in the 
mid 1920's
being sold on Ebay that referred to the letter as "alef i lamed".
The existence of the letter in script also raises questions about any 
effort to provide
technical descriptions of the letter.

You'll find the ALEF i LAMED used in spelling of words
like "s-AL-u-d-o-s " although not all writers used it.
I have posted an example, in PDF file, of how the
city name s-AL-o-n-y-k-o (Salonika) was written on two
pieces of correspondence: 1 from Salonika dated 1890 where the ALEF LAMED 
is used
and 1 from Constantinople, 1913, where 2 distinct letters are used.
The example in PDF format is posted at:
and I will leave it there through next  week.
If anyone wants more examples of the "alef i lamed" in other words send me 
a request
and I will try to pull together other examples in another PDF file.

The question of the alef-lamed ligature has been discussed several
times on various Sephardic -theme discussion lists and the opinion
is split on whether it's space saver (not reasonable as there are better
letter combinations to save space, ), a precaution against writing a
restricted name of the Divinity (probably due to the very
specific  restrictions in Talmud). There are individual handwriting
styles that combine two letters into what seems like a unique ligature
but one can see the two letter components: the alef-lamed ligature
appears quite distinct.

I have a vague memory of reading a paper by Norman Golb (???) about seeing
alef lamed on old headstones  (in Sicily???) that far exceeded the start of 
In the paper he talks about misinterpretations resulting from a researcher 
not knowing
about the alef-lamed ligature. Does anyone know the reference to this paper?
Is my recollection correct or faulty ?

As Sephardic cursive script (solitreo)  does not have any vowels I can't 
address the question
of individual "voweling" :

Dr. David Sheby
VP, Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture 
Secretary, Ottoman and Near East Philatelic Society (www.oneps.org)

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