Frumgirl 1: Lowercase T

My handwriting, in general, is quite legible. This is important when you’re going into a profession in which people have to read your had-written notes, like mine.

I have exception to legibility, and that is my lowercase letter “t.” There. See how it curves up a bit at the end? When I curve mine, people mistake them for Gs or Qs. It annoyed my superiors in my clinical to no end.

I finally mentioned to them, in passing, how I was taught in pre-1A (I had to stop and explain what this mysterious grade is at that point,) to curve my lowercase Ts so that they wouldn’t be crosses. Which, I understood as a five year old, is forbidden for nice little frumgirls.

My superiors got a kick out of that.

I was wondering if anyone else was taught to do this (if you can remember pre-1A, that is,) and if people encounter similar readability issues with it. The males I have asked so far have given me negatives, the females positive.

Published in: on August 30, 2008 at 9:45 PM  Comments (19)  

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  1. I actually write my lowercase ‘t’s like a cross and I’ve gotten comments about it. At one point in time, I attempted to straighten out by curling up (haha), but it takes too much time

    Anyway, I’m not really sure how your t could look like a q or g. Those are curved in the lower zone and a t is curved in the middle zone.

  2. we routinely curve our t’s so they shouldn’t be crosses……

  3. I remember learning in school to curve our “t”‘s. I used to always curve it. Then I started doing it regular, don’t remember why. I guess I liked the straight look better, my “y”‘s I also don’t curve on the bottom.

    In HS, by art, when my art teacher showed us how to make a house, she told us by the windows we can’t make them the regular way because then its like a cross, so we had to make them like a “T” as if they are an open window.

  4. i remember when we learned how to make kites in third grade, my teacher tried to get us to cross the wooden sticks more like in a plus shape than a cross shape. then she realized the kite wouldn’t fly that way.

    and in eighth grade when we were doing yearbook pictures (remember those? i want to burn mine) when we were posing for the group picture we couldn’t kneel, we had to squat…

  5. we were absolutely taught to curve our “t”s in grade school. Now that my daughter goes to the same school that I went to as a child, she is being taught the same thing.
    It’s kind of silly, really.

  6. I learnt the curving “T” also, now Im thinking its the only way.

    My 8th grade yearbook was 190$ and thers was tons missing from the ads people put in nothing funny at all no way to remember how the kids used act or there phrases. Not even those baby pictures. I was planning not to “buy” one but our teacher forced us.I want to burn mine.

  7. I can’t believe that people were actually taught a different way of handwriting to avoid making a cross. It’s sounds preposterous! How could you define a letter of the alphabet as being a christian symbol? It doesn’t make sense to me. Should you not write the letter “x” either because some people write x-mas?!?!

  8. Nikki Flores:
    A lot of things we do in Orthodox Judaism seem preposterous. We always have reasons (and sometimes I even know them!). A cross, in an of itself, is an object of worship. We shy away from objects of worship, for fear of mistakenly worshiping or association with them.

  9. frumgirl1:

    A lot of things we do in Orthodox Judaism seem preposterous unless you truly understand the meaning behind them. If they still seem preposterous after a thorough investigation, then they probably are and that’s probably why they weren’t halacha given to Moshe at Sinai.

    With that said, I understand and appreciate your struggle, but truth be told, the struggle is completely self-made. Much like how an anorexic person sees themselves as fat, thinks everyone else sees they are fat, the problem really never existed. The perception of a problem lies within your own mind.

    What you, your teacher (and other people who have commented here) neglect to understand is that what defines holiness is not the object in and of itself, but it is defined by the person who possesses the item and what he/she endows it with. The Talmud teaches that if everyone ceased to keep, let’s say Shavuot, then it would no longer be Shavuot. It would no longer retain it’s sanctity because it us, the people, who endow the holiday with reason, purpose, and kedusha. That is a fundamental part of Judaism.

    My point is we (Jews) give objects sanctity. A rock is just a rock until someone bows down to it, the Sun is just the Sun until people sacrifice to it and a lowercase “t” is just a “t” until someone worships it. (You still reap the benefits of the Sun even though there are tribes out there who STILL believe it’s a god don’t you?)

    I am sure your teacher meant well but simply failed to see the larger picture. A lowercase “t” is a just a letter in the alphabet, unless you endow it with more meaning than that.

  10. Nikki:

    While some of the things we do certainly have no basis in halacha, neither you nor I are proficient in it enough to say so. Even if something were to have no basis, minhag has its own not insubstantial value and validity. The lowercase T issue could be halacha, minhag, or just shtus. Unless you can claim to be an authority on the subject, or can bring the opinions of various authorities on the subject, continuing as we have been taught in our frum schools is the way to go.

    While I have also learned that we are what makes things holy, if you look at instances of avodah zorah mention, numerous examples of using what other people consider their holy objects as a definition thereof exist. The medrash example that first springs to mind is that we can’t spit on an idol if spitting on it its normal mode of worship.

    Now that’s preposterous! Spitting is not worshipping! We don’t spit to worship so obviously, since we decide what’s holy and what isn’t, spitting is not a valid form of worship and should be able to do it on whatever we want, regardless of the meaning other people might find in it!!!! (sarcasm fullstop)

    Peiyos are left at the sideburns, which is what monks would shave. The whole concept of mar’as ayin. We base what we do on ideas that don’t originate with us so often, how can you dismiss that as a possibility?

    Your sun example is the same as your previous x-mas example: illogical. X as a shape is not considered divine. Sitting in the sunlight, using it to see or grow things is not the way the sun is worshiped.

    While I have been disillusioned a long time ago, and know good and well that a lot of things my teachers taught me have no basis in anything, I think I’ll reserve judgment on this one.

  11. One more thing…
    We are technically forbidden to draw a complete sun. Or the image of people. Why is this any different?

  12. Frum Girls:

    You’re right. Neither one of us our experts on this topic, so I took some time to research things and consulted with someone who did know a thing or two before posting my response.

    In summary:
    You were taught that a small letter T is a like writing a cross (and by extension so would an X, because of the T’s origins and because simply turning the paper would reveal the hidden symbol—See my explanation below.)
    We (Jews) are taught that the cross is a form of avoda zora (idol worship).
    We (Jews) cannot posses ANY or participate in ANY worship of other G-d’s.

    I think it’s important to understand the history behind the letter T. T, Taw or Tav in Hebrew is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There are many forms of Hebrew–cursive, Rashi script and the most famous, Torah script. But take a further step back and remember that the Torah script we have today is NOT the same Torah script from the time of Moses. That Phoenician or paleo-hebrew script ( did not have a Tav like we see it today. In fact, that Tav was actually a cross on its side or today an “X.” (Which interestingly enough, is the same symbol used to replace a specific word in X-mas or Xtians, like my previous example.) In fact the usage of X in place of the word christ has by definition made the two synonymous, further imparting X with some degree of idol association.

    So looking at your original definition of the letter T:
    T = cross and is therefore, forbidden in writing
    X = an original form of the letter T
    So according to your definition, the original Ten Commandments and Torah were bogged down in avoda zora because it was filled with Tavs (Xs). If you research even further into the history of the cross you will notice that your logic makes all plus + signs problematic as well.

    I’ll reserve judgment on this one.

    Oh and as for my Sun argument, enjoying the suns rays for tanning and growth purposes wasn’t my point. My point would be more of how paintings or kids drawings could never include a picture of the Sun, the Moon or even Stars due to their status as gods. In fact, some Frum families have taken this ludicrous strictness seriously and forbidden their children from drawing such a thing.

    PS: I agree with your not being allowed to draw images of people, but when was the last time you went into an orthodox Jew’s home and didn’t see paintings, images, drawings of the Rebbe or any other pre-dominant Jewish leader/Rabbi? This is especially problematic in light of how some Jews have dangerously elevated the Rebbe’s status (I think we all know what I mean.)

    Furthermore, if you are really that passionate about avoda zara, why does your blog have English dates everywhere? Isn’t 2008 counting down from the time of Jesus?

    Oh and you may want to reassess your usage of the Magen David due to it’s occult, polytheistic and Catholic attachments.

    **I’d like to thank my source for letting me borrow some of his ideas and information he has been compiling for his own upcoming blog on the topic. Thanks for letting me use your ideas.**

  13. Wowa. From a simple t question to full out debate. Nice.

    Anyways, I got the “t” lesson too but now I don’t really care so it can go either way.

  14. And in Israel they draw a line into the number 7? Anyone know whats up with that? Email me.

  15. The number 7 in Israel has a line through it to distinguish it from the number 1. In Israel (and Europe in general), the number one is written like a computer writes it, without the bottom line (a slash, and a ‘l’ line). Therefore, it could be easily mistaken for a 7 if they didn’t place a line through the 7 instead.

  16. Not sure why the other comment didn’t post, but I wanted to give the link to my source for those who are interested:


  17. Sorry, nikki, your source post went straight to my spam queue.

    First of all, I don’t consider someone a reliable source on matters of what is and is not halacha until they’ve had semicha. The issue at hand may have other halachic basis that thejewishphilosopher is not aware of.

    Additionally, it is one opinion. I like to attain several before making global changes in the way I do things.

    Thirdly, his post is rather attacking. He calls me a sheep. Bad policy. I consider being something other than a sheep to be one of my good points. He obviously has not read my arguments and blithely continues his one-sided tirade without addressing the other side of the argument much at all. He expects his readers to sheeply believe or agree with everything he says, which rubs very wrong.

    We seem to be arguing in the dark on here, too. You have not addressed anything I’ve said, either, instead choosing to copy-paste from your source.

    If you’re trying to convince me of something, it’s best to do it off attack-mode and to acknowledge or address my points.

    I will be conducting my own research on the matter.

  18. In defense of myself…….

    Most of my comments are meant as sarcasm/humor which you should have realized via my pictures (stained glass Mr. T) or because I even blatantly pointed out jokes specifically due to people such as yourself. Written words tend to be difficult to relay humor in and I understand that, which is why I am here to explain it just once. The Jewish Philosopher blog is logic presented in a somewhat tongue and cheek manner so relax a bit.

    As for the sheep comment, what can I say! There really isn’t that much I can to change that comment, not that I would. It is more of a generalization then a personal attack. In respect to the sheep comment being addressed directly to you, that is more subject specific (this lowercase t topic to be exact) verses your identity at large. My experience both personally, as I have fallen prey to the same herd like mentality in my education, and indirectly from observing others in the many communities I have been a part of, have lead me to the broad sheep generalization. If it is upsetting, I apologize, but outside of having a one to one conversation that will undoubtedly go no where, my opinion of a herd like mentality is just as valid and subjective as any other. It’s an observation made by many and not Orthodox specific; it’s a psychological reality that EVERYONE, myself included, is shackled by our own perceptions. Religious indoctrination simply tends to exacerbate the problem.

    I fully endorse you and everyone to get more then one opinion; it’s a great policy, GREAT policy!

    Last, as for your comment “He obviously has not read my arguments and blithely continues his one-sided tirade without addressing the other side of the argument much at all” that is entirely incorrect. I addressed every issue you mentioned, brought down numerous sources and searched for the perfect pictorial representation (humor again.)

    You are correct that it is one sided and that is because it is a blog, specifically my blog, in which I give my opinions. I have one entry to make a point and thus chose my side and attempted to, as briefly as possible, lead the reader down a crash course in the logic. This topic was not simply slapped together but was rather one developed after years of study and conversations with Rabbi’s, the only title you respect. And although I would have loved to go into all the halachic details that we went through, bring down sources and explain the deep spiritual aspects of this discussion, that would entail a small book not a blog entry and as you could tell, my one side tirade took way to long as is.

    By all means, go see your Rav. Find out every single mistake in my logic and comment back. In fact, when/if you do, I encourage you to do so with scathing humor, as I know it’s all in good fun and not a personal attack.

    The Raz
    aka a bitter, un-authoritative, anti-sheep source of knowledge and humor.

  19. Has anyone seen Israeli maths books?
    They don’t use a +, the lower part of the vertical line is missing so as not to draw a cross.

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