Q. I was leining at Shabbos Mincha and didn’t see the traditional Vav Keti’a in the Sefer Torah. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the Sofer had merely used his knife and cut the very bottom of the Vav so that it appeared as if a hair was sitting below the Vav. When I attempted to wipe or blow off the offending hair from the parchment it did not budge leading me to the conclusion that it was indeed not a hair but rather the Sofer’s attempt at a Vav Keti’a.
Is the Vav Keti’a obligatory?
I understand that some Poskim maintain that the Vav should not be cut near the top because then it makes it look like there is a Yud there and therefore the Vav should be cut about 2/3 of the way down so that it has the appearance of a Vav, albeit a shortened one. Others maintain that it is not necessary to avoid cutting the Vav near the top since it is obligatory that a Yud have a Kutzo shel Yud and this letter, being a Vav, has no Kutzo shel Yud and thus cannot be a Yud.
A. On question 1133 regarding an unusual shayla in Parshas Pinchas when the baal koreh noticed that someone, probably out of simple ignorance, corrected the Vav-Ketia on the word shalom (you could see that there was some ink added to the gap), if another Sefer Torah has to be taken ou. To what we answered: “There are a number of different opinions in regards to the need, origin and ways to write the vav- ketiah. The Talmud (Kidushin 66b) mentions in the name of Rav Yehuda quoting Shmuel, that the source of the rule that the service (avoda) performed by a blemished (baal mum) Cohen, is invalid, is the posuk: (Bamidbar 25: 12) “Behold, I give him My covenant of peace.” Meaning, as Rav Nachman explains, that since the letter vav of “Shalom” is truncated, it reads rather as “Shalem” or complete and unblemished.
Some maintain the this vav, belongs to the group of small letters in the Torah. (Medresh Rabbi Akiva – Botei Medroshos p.479). Others (Minchas Shai (ibid.) quoting Ritva, Shut. Rabi Akiva Eiger 75, et. al.) opine that it is a regular sized letter but with a shorter foot; larger than a yud but shorter than a regular vav. They also assert, that even the opinions that it is read as a yud, still hold that it is a bit larger than a regular yud (ibid.)
Many avert that it is a regular vav that is split or truncated somewhere in the middle. Where in the middle is also subject to different opinions, as well as the angle of the split (Ohr Torah quoted in Minchas Shai ibid. et. al.).
Some Poskim maintain that the Halacha does not follow Rav Nachman, and there is no vav-ketiah at all. They emphasize that no such vav is found in ancient Sifrei Torah or mentioned in Rambam or Tur-Shulchan Aruch (Pachad Yitzchak – Sefer Torah p, 148, quoting The Venetian Sages). Some communities like the Yemenite, do not have that tradition at all. While Shevet Hakehassi Y.D. 1: 297 mentions it is a Halacha LeMoshe MeSinai.
There is also mention of other vavin ketios in the Torah, such as the vav of “Vatomos Sarah” (Bereshis 23: 2 – Machzor Vitri p. 677) or “Eileh Keruei Haeidah” (Bamidbar 1: 16 – Baal Haturim).
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that it was unnecessary to take out another Sefer Torah, even according to those who maintain that tradition, as it is only a Masores. He also suggested that since this occurred in a weekday, it could have been easily fixed by just scratching the vav with a pin or similar.”
The Rov also maintains that if the vav appears to be another letter, such as a yud, following the proper halachos of determining that. another sefer should be taken out.”
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit”a