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Online Workshop "Origin, History, & Interpretation of Tagin and Otiyyot Meshunnot for Writing the STaM", 6-8 Nov 2023

News vom 11.10.2023

This workshop wants to discuss the phenomenon of Tagin and Otiyyot Meshunnot for writing the STaM and will open up space for paleographic, rabbinic, mystical, philosophical, and educational conceptions regarding these special letters in order to elucidate their role on a metaphysical level. A paleographical particularity of Jewish scribal tradition is that some letters of the strongly standardized square script in scrolls are adorned with crownlets (Tagin) or written in an unusual way (Otiyyot Meshunnot). The Talmud specifies seven letters - gimel, zajin, tet, nun, ayin, tsade, and shin - to be decorated in a special way. Yet, medieval testimonies from the 12th-15th centuries (and some later ones, especially in megillot) present numerous exceptions to this antique limit and show a remarkable wealth of ornaments. Legal scholars across the Diaspora saw the unusual curlicues, arcs, flags, and dashes as a threat to the authentic gestalt of a Sefer Torah, and urged uniformity. However, even the standard work Sefer ha-tagin (10th/11th c.) could not curb the enthusiasm for these letter ornamentations.Parallel to this writing practice, an exegetical tradition began to develop: Tagin and Otiyyot Meshunnot as well as standardized letterforms were interpreted from rabbinic-ethical, mystical, and philosophical perspectives. Our workshop aims to provide an opportunity to present material witnesses, new insights into the origin of tagin, and various sources for describing the shape of the unusual letters. As research has almost completely neglected the numerous exegetical approaches towards Tagin and Otiyyot Meshunnot, this workshop will open up space for rabbinic, mystical, philosophical, and educational conceptions of these special letters.

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