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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 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. This 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 of this 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 Ladino.
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, 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 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.