Sunday, June 2, 2013

Upside-down Nuns


[First, for anyone who arrived here due to a misunderstanding - the "nun" in the title refers to the Hebrew letter nun, or נ.]

The Talmud (Shabbat 115b-116a) mentions that the verses of Bamidbar 10:35-36 are to be marked off from the rest of the Torah. Traditionally, those markers have been upside-down nuns. However, there is a debate as to whether this means that such markers appear before and after those verses in the Torah (Noda beYehudah), or whether this means that the normal letter nun which appears in the word בנסע in 10:35, and which appears in כמתאוננים in the subsequent verse, 11:1, should be upside down (Maharshal).

Our practice is to follow the view of Noda b'Yehudah. However, a sefer torah which has the markers as determined by the Maharshal is still kosher, and should not be altered. We treat this sefer torah as the "location of Maharshal", where it was appropriate to follow his practice.

(Rav Moshe Feinstein, Igrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 1:165)

Have a great day,

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