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Rashi script is a semi-cursive typeface for the Hebrew alphabet. It is named for Rashi, an author of rabbinic commentary on the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Talmud, and it is customarily used for printing his commentaries. The typeface (which was not used by Rashi himself) is based on 15th century Sephardic semi-cursive handwriting. It was taken as a model by early Hebrew typographers such as Abraham Garton, the Soncino family and Daniel Bomberg, a Christian printer in Venice, in their editions of commented texts (such as the Mikraot Gedolot and the Talmud, in which Rashi's commentaries prominently figure).
The purpose was to distinguish the rabbinic commentary from the text itself for which a proper square typeface was used.
The Rashi typeface is also traditionally used for printed Judaeo-Spanish.
The initial development of typefaces for the printing press was often anchored in a pre-existing manuscript culture. In the case of the Hebrew press, Ashkenazi tradition prevailed and square or block letters were cast for Biblical and other important works. Secondary religious text, such as rabbinic commentaries, was, however, commonly set with a semi-cursive form of Sephardic origin, ultimately normalised as the Rashi typeface.
A corresponding but distinctive semicursive typeface was used for printing Yiddish. It was termed vaybertaytsh, the Yiddish word vayber meaning "women" and taytsh being an archaic word for "Yiddish". (Works printed in vaybertaytsh were largely intended for a female readership.)
Compared with 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 =|
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.