Rashi script
Rashi script is a semi-cursive
Hebrew cursive
Cursive Hebrew is a collective designation for several styles of handwriting the Hebrew alphabet. Modern Hebrew, especially in informal use in Israel, is handwritten with the Ashkenazi cursive script that had developed in Central Europe by the 13th century. This is also a mainstay of handwritten...

In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

 for the Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

. It is named for the author of the most famous rabbinic commentary
Rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term...

 on the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

) and the Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

, and is customarily used for printing his commentaries. The typeface (which was not used by Rashi himself) is based on 15th century Sephardic
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 semi-cursive handwriting
Handwriting is a person's particular & individual style of writing with pen or pencil, which contrasts with "Hand" which is an impersonal and formalised writing style in several historical varieties...

. This was taken as a model by early Hebrew typographers such as Abraham Garton
Abraham Garton
Abraham Garton was a Jewish printer who printed the first dated Hebrew book in Europe in 1475.Unfortunately, very little is known about the personal life of Abraham ben Garton. Most scholars believe he was born in Spain, and emigrated to Calabria, Italy prior to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain...

, the Soncino family
Soncino family (printers)
The Soncino family is an Italian Sephardi Jewish family of printers, deriving its name from the town of Soncino in the duchy of Milan. It traces its descent through a Moses of Fürth, who is mentioned in 1455, back to a certain Moses of Speyer, of the middle of the fourteenth century. The first of...

 and Daniel Bomberg
Daniel Bomberg
Daniel Bomberg was an early printer of Hebrew language books. A Christian, born in Antwerp, he was primarily active in Venice between 1516 and 1549....

, a Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 printer in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, in their editions of commented texts (such as the Mikraot Gedolot
Mikraot Gedolot
The Mikraot Gedolot "Great Scriptures," often called the "Rabbinic Bible" in English, is anedition of Tanakh that generally includes four distinct elements:...

 and the Talmud, in which Rashi's commentaries prominently figure). The purpose of this was to distinguish the rabbinic commentary from the text itself, for which a proper square typeface
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

 was used.

The Rashi typeface is also traditionally used for printed Ladino
Judaeo-Spanish , in Israel commonly referred to as Ladino, and known locally as Judezmo, Djudeo-Espanyol, Djudezmo, Djudeo-Kasteyano, Spaniolit and other names, is a Romance language derived from Old Spanish...



The initial development of typefaces for the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 was often anchored in a pre-existing manuscript culture
Manuscript culture
Manuscript culture uses manuscripts to store and disseminate information; in the West, it generally preceded the age of printing. In early manuscript culture monks copied manuscripts by hand, mostly religious texts. Medieval manuscript culture deals with the transition of the manuscript from the...

. In the case of the Hebrew press, Ashkenazi
Ashkenazi Jews
Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim , are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for this region and thus for Germany...

 tradition prevailed and square or block letters were cast
Movable type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....

 for Biblical and other important works. Secondary religious text, for example rabbinic commentaries, was however commonly set with a semi-cursive form of Sephardic origin. This was ultimately normalized as the Rashi typeface.

A corresponding but distinctive semi-cursive typeface was used for printing Yiddish. This was termed vaybertaytsh, where the Yiddish word vayber mean "women's", and taytsh means to render something intelligible in Yiddish. (Works printed in vaybertaytsh were largely intended for a female readership.)

Rashi compared to Square Hebrew

Hebrew letters in square and Rashi type
א = ב = ג = ד = ה = ו = ז = ח = ט =
י = כ = ך = ל = מ = ם = נ = ן = ס =
ע = פ = ף = צ = ץ = ק = ר = ש = ת =

External links

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