Rashi Font: A Study in Honor of Rashi's Yahrzeit
of Tammuz marks the 914th
yahrzeit of one of the most prolific commentators in Jewish history, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, more commonly known as Rashi.
In honor of the yahrzeit we decided to take a look at how Rashi font has evolved and what howKoren Publishers
is restoring the original Rashi font in the 21st
century. modern ways.
Traditional Rashi scriptis a distinct, cursive-esque Hebrew letter. The typeface (which was not used by Rashi himself) is based on a 15th
centurySephardicsemi-cursivetypeface.In the case of the Hebrew press,Ashkenazitradition prevailed and square orblock letterswere used forBiblicalworks. Secondary religious texts, such as rabbinic commentaries, were, however, commonly set with a semi-cursive form of Sephardic origin, ultimately standardized as the Rashi typeface that we know today.
How does this relate to Koren font? As noted in a previous post,
Eliyahu Koren was a master graphic designer and typographer in his own right. In order to develop a unique font for the Tanakh, Koren consulted with other typographers, Hebrew grammarians, and even optometrists. The goal was to develop the most easy-to-read and accurate Hebrew font available. After his edition of Tanakh was published in 1962, Eliyahu Koren
went on to develop a unique font for the siddur as well. As with the Bible, Jewish prayer, should have its own distinct font.
The newly digitized Rashi font as seen in Koren's editions of Tanakh and even the Noé Edition Koren Talmud Bavli
hasslightly different versions of each and every letter depending on the position of the letter and which nikkud are being used. Let’s look at the word “HaMahaneh” – do you see any differences in the letters?
Now have a look at the “hey” at the beginning and the end of the word. The front ‘leg’ of the hey is shorter than the last letter. This makes room for the ‘nun’ that comes before it, and at the same time resembles the authentic look of the Rashi script in original medieval manuscripts:
As in handwriting today, letters can look different depending on their positioning in a word. Take the letter ‘tav’ for which Eliyahu Koren created four different types:
The reasoning behind these different versions was to allow for adjacent letters to fit together in an aesthetic sense, and, so it would look more like natural handwriting. Our graphic designers incorporated this guiding principles into the digitized font, which can be seen here in the word “Nitpayasta” (‘you reconciled ’, as seen in Rashi on Genesis 33:10):
The tav at the end swings around, resembling how one might write a letter at the end of a script word. The result is a Rashi font that is easier on the eyes, facilitates one's ability to read the text, and restores a more accurate presentation of how Rashi script looked when it was first published in the 15th century.
There are many more examples of the nuances in the Koren Rashi font, but you'll have to search for yourself! For one day only (Thursday August 1st ...mark you calendars!) , get 40% off all editions of the Koren Humash Rashi and the Humash HaMevoar,an all-Hebrew edition on the Humash with Rabbi Steinsaltz's commentary.
The first dated Hebrew book was Rashi's commentary on the Torah, printed in 1475 in Reggio di Calabria. There are some letters that are longer, resembling real handwriting. Koren's Rashi script strives to restore this look.
HaTanakh HaMevoar - 5 volume Humash
Koren Humash Rashi