Shabbat Parashat Emor| 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Restoring Faded letters with a Chemical - Part I - Condensed from Amud Hay’mini, Siman 41
The question arose in regard to the lettering of an old sefer Torah, which faded until its letters appeared red. A chemical, which is clear in color, causes the Torah’s letters to revert to black, when applied to the old writing. Does use of this chemical fix a halachically invalidated sefer, ruin one, or not change its status? Let us begin the analysis.
The gemara (Gittin 19b) discusses the case of a husband who gave a get which now looks like a blank piece of paper. When checked with “mei narah” (a chemical that makes writing reappear), it was revealed that the get was written with “mei milin” (a form of ink which is originally visible, but becomes invisible when dry). Shmuel says that we must be concerned of the possibility that the wife is divorced, because it is possible that at the time the get was given, the writing was visible. Tosafot (ad loc.) infers that if the ink had already “disappeared” at the time the get was given, it would not have been valid at all.
What would the halacha be if the get were given after the writing was restored with mei narah? Is the restored writing considered writing or not? Let us consider that ink that disappears is not considered valid, as writing must be permanent. If so, how is mei milin valid before it vanishes, as Shmuel implies? It is because mei milin can be restored subsequently and is, thus, permanent. But this is logical only if we assume that the restored letters are not a new act of writing but a return to the status of the original writing. Thus, even if the restoration were done without the requirements of writing a get, the get would be valid.
This conclusion is all the more clear from the Ritva’s understanding. The Ritva, in contrast to the aforementioned Tosafot, understands that Shmuel discussed a case where the get was given when the writing was already invisible. Yet Shmuel felt that the get might still be valid. It is logical to entertain the possibility that the writing is valid even when invisible only if one holds clearly that after it is restored, it is unquestionably valid.
It is apparent from the Beit Shmuel (124:23) that he also felt that ink which disappeared and was restored is halachic writing. The Shulchan Aruch (Even Haezer 124:9) says that one should wait to give a get until the ink dries. The Chalkat M’chokek (ad loc.:24) cites the Mordechai who explains this halacha as follows. Since when wet the ink is easily erased, it is not considered permanent writing. However, the Chelkat M’chokek says that perhaps it is valid, because later on the lettering will be permanent. The Beit Shmuel (ad loc.:21) argues and says that we follow the situation only at the time that the get is given, not later. His proof is from our gemara, that a get given when the writing is not visible is invalid despite the fact that it can be restored. The only way one can prove from that gemara that we follow the present situation is if we assume that, after the writing is restored, it is considered valid.
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