Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More than thousand years of the 'kamatz': from Tiberias to Artscroll

Nachum writes:
A few years back, a new petition went out: Using a kamatz with a straight bottom line was now assur. Avos Avoseinu always made a kamatz with a round bottom, and this is how we must do it. Of course, this is simply nonsense: There’s no halacha of drawing nekudos, and the nekudos are not MiSinai (a thousand years ago, there were a few systems of nikkud, and they had just been invented). Various gedolim had signed on, though, but I have no idea of how that process works.

Anyway, Artscroll, which had been using a straight kamatz for over twenty years, instantly buckled under, apologized and grovelled, and changed them all starting with their next editions.
I wish I had more info about this. I don't. I do remember the brouhaha though. But I haven't noticed that Artscroll 'caved' on it.

But I can show a couple of things about kamatzen.

Here is the kamatz in the Artscroll font:

And here is something like the 'traditional' kamatz, which, I suppose, the kol koreh was referring to:

Unsurprisingly, this isn't anymore the traditional kamatz (if one could speak of such a thing!) than the Artscroll modern version.

This is:

and this:

As you can see, the inventors of the nekudot, the Masoretes, wrote it as a short horizontal line over a dot which didn't touch the line. This is the real 'traditional' kamatz.

1 comment:

  1. In my kid's school library, I found a picture from tenth century Egypt. It was a lesson book for children. The kamatz, like the ones in the bottom two pictures above, had a dot under a line.

    I can't figure out why this interests me so much.

    You may wish to know that there are some who make gematrias out of vowels. A kamatz is 16. (The line is 6, the dot is 10.) It works a lot better with the "real tradition kamatz."




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