Thursday, September 18, 2014

vov from hahu

Has a noticeable line going out to the right hand side of the gug, if ain shiur beuve haos my worry is if it's a shinuy to a zayin?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shu"A Ha'Rav - hekef gvil toich ha'os

I am wondering what is the opinion on Shu"A Ha'Rav? Does he agree with the Mishna Berurah that the insides of letters (at least 3-walled letters) are exempt from the requirement of hekef gvil (at least after the fact)? Or does he hold that the inside is no different than the outside?

From my learning I have concluded that the inside is no less than the outside.

I'm wondering if anyone understands differently?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I was reading through some kitvei yad of Rav Haim Vital ZTzUK"L and found this recipe for Dyo.  My own comments are in (parentheses like this):

To make a very good ink-  Take rain water and put into it very finely ground Afatzim(gallnut powder) and boil it a bit.  Then remove the afatzim, take the water and put into it Gum Arabic and Roman Vitriol(called Kankantum in the Shulhan Arukh, specifically it is copper sulfate) as you desire and boil them.  When it turns black remove it from the heat and strain it through a linen garment(a coffee filter will work just as well, or any other fine non-reactive filter) and leave it exposed to the air for a single night, and then place it in the sun and it will be a very good ink.  Once reduces you can add water and mix it with a wooden sliver.

For those who want the original Hebrew:
לעשות דיו טוב מאוד מאוד.  קח מי גשמים ושים בתוכן העפצים כתושים דק דק והרתיחם מעט והסר העפצים וקח המים ושים תוכם גומא ארביקא וויטריאול רומאנו כפי רצונך והרתיחם וכשישחירו תסיר מעל האש ותסנן בבגד פשתן והניחם לילה א' במקום מגולה וביום הניחם בשמש ויהיה דיו טוב מאד מאד.  וכשיחסר תוכל להוסיף בו מים ותערב עם קיסם עץ,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The so-called "Chumra of the Rashb"a"

Shalom to all.

I am new to this blog and I hope to make a meaningful contribution.

I would like to revisit a minor discussion which took place on the blog a short while back regarding what's been called the "chumra of the Rashb"a" i.e. not to scrape away a Negiah which took place prior to the conclusion of having written the second letter.

I would like to clarify two points: 1) it is a complete misnomer to call it the Chumra of the Rashb"a.
2) It is actually much more severe than if it was actually the chumra of the Rashab"a that we are concerned about. Allow me to explain with a basic introduction:

The Yerushalmi states:

"Irev es ha'osiyos - milmaalah: passul, milmaatah: kasher" (I have "shrunk" the actual passage to what the minimum  of whats needed for this discussion).

The Rashab"a (as well as the Ramba"n, and the Sma"k) interpret this to mean that if, as one is forming the second letter, it touched the letter preceding it, the second letter is passul and one may not scratch away the attachment as this would be a chok Toiches. The rational is that by virtue of the fact that the second letter has attached itself to another letter prior to the completion of its own formation - it has yet to become kosher letter, Now, to go ahead and grant the letter its initial "kosherness" via scraping is not permitted. If, however, the second letter attached itself to the preceding letter once its form was complete then it is perfectly permitted to scrape away the attachment. As a matter of fact, the attachment can even be left in place and all is still Kosher. In his rational for this the Rashab"a envokes a talmudic principle of "kol ha'raoy lebila - ein bila me'akeves bo". Meaning, that since the attachment took place once both letters had been completely formed, there would be no chok tioches in scraping away the attachment. As such, it can be considered as if the attachment is not there even without actually ridding it.

This, by the way, is how the Rashba"a paskened le'maaseh.

However, there are many Rishonim who come along and state that the Bavli categorically rejects such a distinction between an attachment "le'maalah" i.e. prior to the completion of the formation of the second letter, to an attachment "le'maatah" i.e. after the comple formation of both letters. They cite the statement of Rav "kol ois sh'ein gvil makif lah - pesulah". Now, since Rav did not qualify his psak in any way this indicates that any negiah is equally as passul and never would we accept the Rashba"s kula that an attachment that comes along after the formation of both letters is acceptable.

Now, the big question is: according to these Rishonim, can negios be fixed via scraping or not? So, the Ri"f and the Ramba"m while ruling like the Bavli in terms of the psul of all negios equally, make no mention at all that these negios may be scraped away. The Ro"sh, the Terumah, and the Mordechai, among others, do indicate that negios may be scraped away.

In other words, according to the latter Rishonim both the Bavli and the Yerushalmi have a Kula and a Chumra. According to the Yerushalmi, negios that happened pre-formation are passul and cannot even be scraped away (the only solution would be erasing the second letter and rewriting it). Conversely, Negios that happened post-fomation are not only permitted to be scraped, but can even be left in place without scraping altogether. The Bavli on the other hand has a chumra that all negios are problematic and must be dealt with. However, the kula is that they are allowed to be scraped away and there is not chok toiches in that.

Now, the big question is: on what basis did these Rishonim believe that the Bavli permits the scraping of Negios? Especially in light of the fact that the Yerushalmi feels that scraping Negios (at least the pre-formation ones) is chok toiches!!!

The one Rishon who actually explains the psak is the Mordechai. He envokes the Gemara in Shabbos which establishes that one is chayav on Shabbos for scraping away a chatoteres of a cheis therby resulting in two zayins. The Mordechai points out that if this scraping was considered chok toiches, then how could one be chayav for that on Shabbos? Certainly chok toiches cannot be considered "keshivah"!? He therefore concludes that when one is engaged in an act of separating two attached letters - it is not considered chok toiches.

Now, the Mahahra"m banet comes along and asks: but we all know that it is not permissible to go ahead and scrape away the chatoteres of a cheis in order to produce to zayins!!! He concludes therefore that although it is true that, le'halacha, in Sta"m such an act would definitely constitute chok toiches, nonetheless, the Rishonim felt that at least regarding a case in which the two attached letters each retain their own look - we could draw on this Gemara as an indication that it is permissible to scarpe.

The fact of the matter, however, remains that from that Gemara there is clearly no solid indication to the permissibility of scraping negios. The Gemara considers it kesiva only in regards to Shabbos because "mleches machsheves" is problematic on Shabbos and whether it is formal kesivah or not is irrelevant in so far as Shabbos is concerned.

Hence, the Gr"a concludes that this "proof" is actually very problematic and difficult to accept.

So, where does all of this leave us? It leaves us with
1) The Ri"f and the Ramba"m who while paskening like the Bavli that all negios are problematic make no mention of the permissibility of scraping them.
2) An very problematic attempt on the part of the Mordechai to infer a proof from the Bavli that scraping Negios is permissible.
3) A Yerushalmi which indicates that at least in regards to pre-formation negios - it is chok toiches to scrape them.

So, now we can all see that the reason for the chumrah is not merely "being choshesh for the Rashb"a". The reason for the chumra is because there is no real indication in the bavli that it is permitted to scrape negios at all!!!

Now, I would like to take all of this one step futher. When the Biur Halacha (Siman 32, 18 "ve'im gorar ve'hifridah kasher") brings the Gr"a as well as others who raise this issue to begin with, he only specifies that the issue would be with negios that happened "le'maalah" and "be'emtza". He does not, however, make mention of a negia which happened "le'matah" i.e. post-formation, but prior to having lifted the kulmus (the lifting of the kulmus being the ultimate indication of having concluded the letters formation).

However, earlier on (Siman 32, 16) the Biur Halacha struggles with a different yet related issue. It is well know that the Beis Yosef has two approaches to understanding the nature of the requirement of hekeif gvil. The first is that the requirement of Hekeif gvil pertains only to negios. The second is that the requirement of hekeif gvil relates both to negios as well as to holes in the klaf, but that the requirement to begin with is only applicable pre-formation of the letters. So, does this second approach not completely contradict the assertion of the majority of Rishonim mentioned above? We stated that most Rishonim hold that when Rav said "kol ois she'ein gvil makif lah - psulah" it means that it is always pasul regardless of when the compromise took place!

The Biur Halacha therefore concludes, that although the second approach of the Beis Yosef indeed indicates that the Bavli embraces a pre vs. post-formation distinction when it comes to the issue of hekeif gvil, nonetheless, it differs to that of the Yerushalmis. The difference lies in the definitions of "pre" and "post". According to the Yerushalmi, "post-formation" means the moment the minimum requisite is formed. According to the Bavli, that moment might still be considered "pre-formation". It is only after the Sofer has actually lifted the writing instrument from the klaf that we now can say "post-formation". So, practically speaking: if I am writing a vav and at the very moment that I complete its tip - it makes contact with the bottom of the preceding letter. According to the Yerushalmi, since the minimum required shiur of a vav was in place prior to the attachment - it is considered a "post-formation negiah". According to bavli, however, it is still considered a "pre-formation negiah" since I had not yet lifted the kulmus. As such, both approaches of the Beis Yosef concur that the Negiah is problematic. According to the first approach - all negios are probelmatic - even post-formation ones. And even according to the second approach such a negiah is deemed a pre-formation negiah and is therefor pasul as well.

Accordingly, it would seem logical to conclude that even a negiah "le'maatah" i.e. at the very end of the writing but prior to having lifted the kulmus, is included in the Chumra not to be scraped.

This point I am not completely sure of, however. It is possible that since the Yerushalmi clearly holds that such a negiah may be scraped (and according to the Rashab"as interpretation - doesn't even require scraping at all), so maybe the Gr"a would be perfectly comfortable with scraping in this case.
Because regarding this case of "le'maatah" we have
1) The Yerushalmi that would certainly allow scraping.
2) Many Rishonim who hold scraping of Negios is always permitted.

In reality, the Keses writes about this case too that there is justification to being machmir.

In conclusion:

For our purposes there are three categories of Negios:

1) "le'maalah/b'ematzah" - A negiah that takes place before the second letter meets its minimum required form.
2) "le'maatah" - A negiah that takes place after the minimum required form is in place but prior to having lifted the kulmus.
3) "le'achar she'silek yadav" - A negiah that takes place after the kulmus is lifted

There are three opinions:

1) The Shulchan Aruch Ho'rav: all categories are perfectly permissible to be scraped. (This is the psak of the Mechaber as well. The Shu"A Ho'rav is very elaborate, however, in articulating the heter).

2) The Mishnah Brurah: category 1 should not be scraped in a Sefer Torah, nor in Tefillin/Mezuzos if you catch it on the spot. Rather the entirety of the second letter should be erased. If one only caught it after continuing to write - then scraping is permitted and one must not erase all the way back. In Hashems name scraping is permitted even in a Sefer Torah. Categories 2 and 3 are permitted to be scraped.

3) The keses Ha'sofer: the same as the Mishnah Berurah, but considers it worthwhile to see category 2 the same as category 1.

I hope I have written this clearly and that it is useful to the readers. Please please please write feedback.

P.s. this article remains profoundly wanting. I have not included many sources as I wanted to present a bigger picture to the extent possible. Please feel free to ask and I can refer you to all sources. Also, forgive me for all of my transliteration... I don't type well in hebrew etc. Finally, this is a very concise overview. There are many many aspects of what I've written that can be developed further - some le'iyun and some le'maaseh. Please understand that I have attempted to stay as focused as possible.

Friday, September 12, 2014


This is a picture of a kindergarten in Israel I am almost positive that the Mezuza here is in the wrong place. I am just not sure where it should be. Should it be in the beginning  of the tiled area, or nearest to the door. The thing in the middle is a blinds track.I think it should be next to the doorpost.

Another question is.... should they have a Mezuza on this gate. It is just a metal rod with a door that goes around like a doorpost.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mem Sofit: a hairy situation

the particular area of the klaf is fuzzy with the hairs going in different directions, causing the d'yo to spread. as a result, the MeM of "ואם" has a small חלל.

is it: כשר/פסול/שאילת תינוק?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

NUN pshutah

Can any of the experts out of NY who don't make shaylos tinuk on nun/ zayin shaylos, please tell me the din here on the nun psutah of sitten.

Reb Moshe's opinion would also be appreciated.

Wishing everyone well in the Elul "busy season".

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

pai pshuta

What is the din on the pai pshuta of אף? did it become a pai k'fufa or its still a pai pshuta?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sowing tefillin

I'll be in Connecticut to check tefilin etc. fromה -אלול until I get the job done, which will take a few days.
I will need someone to do the sowing of the tefilin, and when I change the retzuos, to make the knots.
It will be a full time job for both of us, and good pay.
Anyone that knows of someone that would be interested etc.
please email me at
Good shobos

Thursday, August 21, 2014

trying to save these parshiyos...

I have a set of old tefillin which are probably at best only kosher bedieved, however there is sentimental value so I'm trying the best I can to try and keep them kosher, even bshas hadchak . The customer has a better, newer pair but wants to keep these for rare emergency use. Below are three photos with the shailos:

1) the yud in uvisharecha. the kotz RT is not quite as long as the right regel, besides both are very short - not really a ches. Are these reasons to be meikel?

2) the nunim if veshinantom and hotziyonu. Definitely something is there protruding, is it enough to fix or is it a nun hafucha?

Would appreciate Reb Moshe's opinion please.

PS The revach from the extra word has holes in it....
PPS Very politically correct sofer, obviously likes both the Arizal and beis Yosef so much he couldn't decide which ksav to write....

Saturday, August 16, 2014


The mem of להם has a slightly narrow moshav due to the right side being on a bit of an inward slant.
To me it's not narrow enough to be a real clear samech but I also though it was enough of an incline to post and see what others think. Especially when compared with the other mems.

whats the halacha for sfardim for the kuf of bechozek?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sunday, August 10, 2014


there is a app called kidron that basicly checks teffilin and mezuzas for choser yeter, and chiluf,
does anyone know anything about it if its relieble in place of computer check etc.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Miksha and parsha of shel yad. Am I missing something?

I find that by miksha batim, in the shel yad, many expert sofrim are not makpid that the whole parsha should be in the bayis, and if part protrudes into the titura they are not the slightest bit concerned. In fact, the most mehudar tefillin I check, sold with all the top hiddurim including miksha batim, often have the shel yad parsha protruding deep into the titura.

 Yet by non-mikshah batim, these same experts consider it to be a chisoron in hiddur if the above occurs. They hold this (of it being a detraction in hiddur)  even when the parsha does not descend deeper than the titurah elyona or the part of the titurah that is made of the same piece of hide as the bayis.

So what am I missing here? If the whole reason why we are not worried about the parsha protruding by miksha is because it's the same ohr in the titurah as the bayis, why be concerned in regular batim when the parsha does not protrude lower than the "filler" and still stays in the space of the upper ohr which is the same ohr as the bayis as well?

If someone could fill me in, I would like to understand this discrepancy.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Daled of echad

I did a shaalas tinok on the Daled of echad, he could not identify which letter it was, even after correctly identifying a regular daled as well as a large echad daled in another mezuza.
Is there a sevoro to say that tinok would not apply for the large daled?

careless metayeg

Looks like the metayeg botched the tug on the hay. Fortunately it did not go into the space of the chof pshutah but I'm a little worried about what it's done to the hay since its all connected. I think though, it's too thin and negligible to cause a shinuy tzurah of the hay.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

sofek hey

see prim"gd siman 32 eishel avraham s"k 33
However we might be more lenient since there is no shita that this is a hay lechatchila as in the m'a cse where the rashb"a holds that foot of hay belongs inward

is it mehudar because it "ALTER REBBE?"

Short lamed as in last word on line 4,lameds that do not have head only kotz.I am a regular magia not chabad and i find these shailos very often however when I mention the problems to the chabad sofrim they laugh me off with some kind of "reb ruven bla bla bla"

Friday, July 25, 2014

2 M''B Q's

Amatuer sofer here with 2 Q's on M''B!

1) 32:32 - Above each line one should leave enough space for the top of a lamed (which is a 3 kulmusim).
After that shulchan aruch the rama says to leave "bain hashitim kimlo shitah".

Is that referring to the same thing as the shulchan aruch. If not - the MB says that "the sofrim" arent noheg to leave a "kimloh shitah" for teffilin and mezuzos etc....So if the rama is referring to the additional top of the lamed (which the m''b said not to do by mezuzos), how would you write a lamed in the mezuzah?

2) 32::78 - m''b says that if letters keep their tzurah but touch, just remove the connection and it's kosher..whether before or after writing. Seems quite clear!
143:25 - If the connection is in the beginning of the letter, even though there's no shinuy tzurah but "the rest of the letter was written bifsul" (which from my understanding of 32 means u have to rewrite it).


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tzadik Pshutah

Reb Moshe, would you agree that a tzurah such as the one below (where the shailo is that it is lacking a yerech but still has the the tzurah of an Arizal Tzadik) is fixable by adding ink in a way that creates a distinct yerech  such as in the red of the second image?

UPDATED PICTURE - the previous one was not accurately representing the shailo I was asking

Change in RT

Why is it that only recently we in chabad started leaving space at end of shema in RT?
Why the change from before when they finished until end of line?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"Name and Shame" Idea

I received an email this week from a frustrated sofer who is sick and tired of nothing being done to stop unscrupulous vendors selling below par STa"M. While he acknowledges that it is beyond the capabilities and powers of the Vaad and other rabbinical bodies, his idea was to create a website that would "Name and Shame" unscrupulous vendors. In doing so, anyone caught selling fraudulent STa"M would have their business name and a picture of the item sold.

While I think it's a good idea in theory, and may act as a good deterrent, I see a number of problems arising from this idea:

1) Whoever does it will need to dedicate a lot of time and effort into maintaining and monitoring the site without remuneration.

2) There may be legal / defamation issues to deal with.

3) Where is the line drawn? Do people selling items that are bedieved (as mehudar or otherwise) also make the cut?

If anyone has any ideas or thoughts on this please feel free to comment.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Yad kesher

Is there an inyan to makpid on the angel of the end of the Yad kesher wether to the right or left?

Two Mezuzos On One Doorway

I understand some poskim rule in some doubtful situations (when it is uncertain which side of the doorway the mezuzah belongs) to place a mezuzah on each side. Placing two mezuzos in such a situation is not Baal Toisif, according to these poskim. Can anyone please advise the makor for this practice?

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Sofer I know posted an image of a mezuzah he wrote to show off his proud handiwork. I noticed that the yuddin in the Heh's in the Shem Hashem are all written exactly the same as a regular Heh, ie as an upside down yud.

However I learned that all the hehs in Sheimos Hakedoshos should be written distinctly and differently, for the first Heh and the second, ie first heh with a tag _ and second Heh with a tag | to be meshane the Sheimos hakedoshos as an added fence for kavanah LeShem.

Is this a problem to be concerned with if I see a mezuzah like the one described above with all hehes written the same.  I asked him about it and he did not respond.  Maybe he wasn't taught it or doesnt know.

Why Does Dio Lanetzach Seem So Taboo

My knowledge of dio is pretty much limited to the MB and the Biur halacha in siman 32, so when I heard of dio lanetzach, I looked online and asked fellow sofrim.

When I've spoken to sofrim here in Yerushalayim, it's usually shunned. It's not really carried in stores here in EY (i've heard that used as a support to it's illegitimacy). I've spoken to store owners who avoid the topic, and i even talked to members of a Sta''m kollel who spoke lowly of it. Some people use it for tagim but not for letters... Even on this very forum i've seen several posts which shift discussions from the public forum to private messages.

If there are haskamos from the mishmeres stam and many gedolim, why is it so taboo? What am I missing? Is it questionably Kosher, or totally OK? Is the taboo-ness just because it's new?

I'm even worried this post will get censored...

Can it do hagoha also?

Berlin - Robot Writes Torah At Berlin's Jewish Museum

I've met some sofrim who are robots, but never a robot who is a sofer...

See it in action here;

PS, I think the robot could benefit from some safrus lessons. Tagin would be nice too

Friday, July 11, 2014


1) is it kosher?
2) if its kosher, is there any thing to be gained by scratching?

beis touching vav - mem

I think it is pasul (and may not be fixed in tefilin or mezuza) - although a tinok read them beis and vav.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

There is only a revach of one ois between the parshiyos does this downgrade the parshiyos to bedieved?
The parshiyos were in very basic peshutim batim and seemed too good for the batim.

is the stain in the reish problematic?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Harav Shlomo Amar Shlitah On the "half printed" mezuzah scandal, Rabbi Abadi and more...

I recently met with Rabbi Shlomo Amar Shlitah, former Sephardic Cheif Rabbi and noted posek. He was visiting Melbourne and wanted to see parshiyos I had for a pair of tefillin he was ordering for someone locally. We shmoozed for about half an hour and I took the opportunity to discuss some general STa"M issues.

About the recent forgers and their attempts to legitimize their activities, his response was "Hashem Yerachem". He did not see any way that their technique held up in Halacha.

Regarding Rabbi Abadi's silk printing, he was less vocal, but he told me "Tirchak mizeh".

I asked him why there isn't some some sort of law in Israel that in the same way only legitimate and qualified Doctors can practice medicine, so too only legitimate and qualified sofrim should  be allowed to do sofrus. His response to me that it is simply too hard to regulate.

I did not get into any "nitty gritty" shailos on tzuros haosiyos as I don't think that is his area.

With regards to the old mashuach (mostly possul)  6m mezuos sold years ago with the hechsher of the Israeli Rabbanut, he described this as "regrettable".

Finally, he agreed that there should be more uniformity and conformity so that sofrim are all on the same page, adhering to the same standards and quality. We discussed ideas how this could happen and I shared with him some of the measures enforced by Mishmeres Stam and others. He agreed that this matter was of great importance.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Shel Yad Placement On Arm

Question: I have a customer, who, for all his children , ordered davkah a very small shel yad so that the tefillin can sit on the right spot on the arm according to as many opinions as possible. His children are on the shorter side and have smallish arms.

Having said this, I am not so boki in these halachos. The customer is a Litvisher (Brisker I think) and asked me to research if what he is doing is indeed meritorious or OTT (Over The Top).

If someone with a good understanding of these halochos could guide me / him on this , I'd appreciate it.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Boruch Dayan Hoemes: Rabbi Eliezer (Lazer) Zirkind Z'L, veteran American sofer, has passed away

Courtesy of Lubavitch Archives

Rabbi Eliezer Zirkind Z'L was best known in Chabad circles as the "sofer of 770" or the "Rebbe's sofer". He was always considered as one of the veteran American sofrim, having worked as a sofer in New York since the 1950's. At that time, sofrim in America were a rare commodity and Rabbi Zirkind, who was also a shochet, used to make his own klaf and ink.

Rabbi Zirkind, in his peak years, wrote over three sifrei Torah per year, an amazing achievement by anyone's standards.

When Rabbi Moshe Feinstein complained to the Lubavitcher Rebbe that the reason he does not wear Rabbeinu Tam tefillin is because there are no reliable sofrim in America, the Rebbe referred him to Rabbi Zirkind. Rabbi Zirkind wrote Reb Moshe's Rabbeinu Tam tefillin which he wore daily until he passed away. Rabbi Zirkind also used to check Reb Moshe's tefillin.

He passed away aged 83. To me, the passing of rabbi Zirkind signifies the end of an era.  Those of us who knew rabbi Zirkind will remember him for his passion and zeal. His name appears regularly on this forum. I encourage forum members who may have had personal experiences or have any stories about Rabbi Zirkind to please comment.

More on Ateres Batim

Following Avi's post earlier, I am posting some info on Ateres Batim.

I think Rabbi Traube commented fairly when he wrote that even if you advertise all the hiddurim in the world, you loose something once you are a mass producing in a factory / line up situation. It's like that with everything in Sta'm.

I'm not saying these are not good batim. But to me, any of these hiddurim can be obtained at many reputable factories, and still be much cheaper than private batim machers.

The exception are their no folds policy which is a good safety measure (I wouldn't call it a hiddur, rather a safety measure), but you can always choose such batim from regular "factories" before they are painted and it will be cheaper. (By this I mean batim which are free of "potentially" problematic folds)

Their hechsher from the eidah is a good thing.

Someone correct me if I am but other reputable factory type companies I deal with seem to advertise many of the same hiddurim for their higher end batim  as well.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ateret (Ateres?) Battim

A rov in Brooklyn who knows a decent amount about safrus told me that he recently bought tefillin for his son from a company called Ateres (Ateret?) that were comparable in hiddur and quality to the shpitzy R' Sheinfeld and R' Dovid Starik fold-free, avodas yad, miksha battim, but were SIGNIFICANTLY less expensive because they lacked the "yichus". Does anyone on the forum know anything about these battim?

Writing Ketubot

I was wondering how many sofrim write ketubot on klaf.  Further, and more importantly what do you do when you make a mistake?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

NISHTANEH HAITIM - Times have changed.....

I recently had the opportunity to check a very special pair of tefillin, belonging to the late esteemed Chabad chassid Rabbi Shmuel Levitin Z"L. Rabbi Levitin passed away in the 70's and his tefillin were handed down in his family. As to be expected, the parshiyos are extremely unique in the fact that they are an old "Alter Rebbe" ksav, from the old Chabad Russian ksavim (not the new post war style).

The shel rosh was replaced over the years due to age, but the shel yad is original. It must have been checked many times over the years as I can see fresh tikunnim here and there. I would imagine Reb Shmuel's tefillin would have been written by a reputable sofer and clearly they were checked by many (presumably reputable Chabad) sofrim during the course of his lifetime, both in Russia and the US.

I am unsure if these were the only pair of tefillin he had, but they were definitely his and well worn.

Now here is the interesting part:

Some weeks ago I posted how in recent years there had been a huge (sometimes disproportionate) emphasis by some Chabad magihim to fix the tagei lamed - that the right should be higher than the left. While this is a good thing (provided they are equally stringent about more critical halachic issues), I also wrote that I couldn't understand why the same emphasis is not put on the ches, (since the Alter Rebbe also brings down that al pi hasod that the right side of the chotteres should be thicher than the left . The lamed is also brought down that the right tug should be higher than left al pi sod ). And no one seems to be too bothered about fixing the ches, not even those who are extremely makpid about the lamed...

So here is the thing. In these parshiyos, every single ches was done in such a way that the right was NOTICABLY thicker (and taller ) than the left. You simply don't see that today, even by the best of sofrim.

What's even more interesting is that  the lamedim were not as consistent. there were plenty where the left was taller than the right.

There is no question that these tefillin have a strong Chabad lineage and as I said previously would have been written and checked over the years by reputable Chabad sofrim from generations gone by.

I guess its just interesting to see how things change over the years.....





Finally, the explanation I have heard from Rabbi Heller and others who quote it in his name, that he pushes it because of the story with the Rebbe where someone was instructed to have his tefillin checked numerous times and finally someone fixed the tagei lamed, and then the Rebbe stopped instructing: Who's to say that the chesin weren't already thicker on the right side in those parshiyos (ie like Reb Shmuel's above)?

I plan on calling Rabbi Heller this week to try and get to the bottom of this.