Devorah Learns Masorah

Discover the wisdom of the Torah one letter at a time

Tagin / Crowned Letters

In every Torah Scroll, some Hebrew Letters have crowns, and some do not.

According to Jewish tradition, there are meanings tied to every single crown tied to every single letter: The meanings can be hidden, but they exist to be discovered.

These little crowns, sometimes called “tittles” in English, are always called Tag (pl.: Tagin) in Hebrew. In most modern Torah scrolls tagin are standardized to three small lines with little dots on the top of specified letters.

Here is a sample of a standard modern Hebrew Aleph Bet with crowned letters:

So according to modern scribal traditions, the Alef never has a crown, but the Shin always does.

And yet…

guess what? There are exceptions to every single rule. Sometimes, we do find crowns on these other letters, but these are in very old scrolls…

This is where things get interesting: The older the Torah scroll is, the more likely you will see crowns on letters which usually do not have them (in a modern scroll, that is). This is because the old scroll was scribed before the crownlets were standardized.

  • NOTE: There are many, many different valid traditions of Torah Scroll Hebrew: Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Yemeni, and many variations in between.
    • This means that there are also many different variations of the Tagin on each letter
    • But it is important to bear in mind that these crowns, like the Otiot Meshunot / Extraordinary Letters, have been passed down from scribe to scribe for thousands of years

So the next time you look inside a Torah scroll, take a peek at the Tagin, and see what you can see… for there is much to be learned from every jot and every tittle and every Tag of the Torah.

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