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The complete Hebrew alphabet in Rashi script [right to left].

Rashi script (Hebrew: כתב רש"י) is a semi-cursive typeface for the Hebrew alphabet, in which Rashi's commentaries are customarily printed both in the Talmud and Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). This does not mean that Rashi himself used such a script: the typeface is based on a 15th century Sephardic semi-cursive hand and was called by the Ashkenazic Rishonim - the Provencial script. What would be called "Rashi script" was employed by early Hebrew typographers such as Abraham Garton, the Soncino family and Daniel Bomberg, a Christian printer in Venice, in their editions of commented texts (such as the Mikraot Gedolot and the Talmud, in which Rashi's commentaries prominently figure) to distinguish the rabbinic commentary from the text proper, for which a square typeface was used.

History

With the introduction of the printing press, the selection of a style of type depended upon the same conditions as in the case of the execution of manuscripts. Square or block letters were cast for Biblical and other important works; in the various countries different models for letters were often followed; one form was preferred at one time, another at another; however, the style selected by the Ashkenazim prevailed and maintained its preeminence over all the others. Books of a secondary character, works which accompanied another text, such as commentaries and the like, were printed in the cursive; and here a style of type became popular which very closely resembled the Hispano-African cursive. (The development could be compared to that of Italic script for the Latin alphabet.) Since the script occurs most often in commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud by Rashi, it has become known as the Rashi script. For the printing of Yiddish (Judeo-German) texts, a further development of the Ashkenazi alphabet, called "Weiber-Deutsch," was created. Until shortly before modern times, the handwriting of Sephardic Jews for Hebrew and Ladino was closely based on Rashi script. Modern Israeli cursive, which is essentially nineteenth century Ashkenazic handwriting, is more distantly related, but is still recognisably closer to Rashi script than to the square type.

Hebrew script vs. Rashi script

Modern (square) Hebrew letters with their equivalent Rashi letters
א = Hebrew letter Alef Rashi.png ב = Hebrew letter Bet Rashi.png ג = Hebrew letter Gimel Rashi.png ד = Hebrew letter Daled Rashi.png ה = Hebrew letter He Rashi.png ו = Hebrew letter Vav Rashi.png ז = Hebrew letter Zayin Rashi.png ח = Hebrew letter Het Rashi.png ט = Hebrew letter Tet Rashi.png
י = Hebrew letter Yud Rashi.png כ = Hebrew letter Kaf-nonfinal Rashi.png ך = Hebrew letter Kaf-final Rashi.png ל = Hebrew letter Lamed Rashi.png מ = Hebrew letter Mem-nonfinal Rashi.png ם = Hebrew letter Mem-final Rashi.png נ = Hebrew letter Nun-nonfinal Rashi.png ן = Hebrew letter Nun-final Rashi.png ס = Hebrew letter Samekh Rashi.png
ע = Hebrew letter Ayin Rashi.png פ = Hebrew letter Pe-nonfinal Rashi.png ף = Hebrew letter Pe-final Rashi.png צ = Hebrew letter Tsadik-nonfinal Rashi.png ץ = Hebrew letter Tsadik-final Rashi.png ק = Hebrew letter Kuf Rashi.png ר = Hebrew letter Resh Rashi.png ש = Hebrew letter Shin Rashi.png ת = Hebrew letter Taf Rashi.png

External links

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.

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