Worksheet for STAM Buyers

I’m in the middle of writing a series of educational posts about purchasing STAM on my own blog — trying to give potential STAM buyers as much information as possible so that they can be educated consumers, while at the same time not overloading them with too many extraneous details.

The series isn’t done yet, but based on what I have so far I’ve developed a “worksheet” for people to use to evaluate the merits and weaknesses of STAM from different sources. Ideally, the worksheet is a supplement to the blog, but it should be able to stand on its own as well.

I believe the worksheet is ready to release into the wild, but it would be helpful to have input from other STAM professionals first. Please take a look and comment on this post if you feel there is anything missing or extra that takes away from the effectiveness of the worksheet as an educational tool.

STAMink Worksheet

The worksheet is free of charge for anyone to download, copy, and distribute without modification, subject to a Creative Commons license. More details on usage are here.

This is a work-in-progress, so please subscribe to be notified of updates.

Looking forward to hearing from you…


  1. For Tefillin the detail of if the person (in the case of an Ashkanazi) wants the pasuchos and stumos to be Taz or Rambam is also important, no?

  2. @ Yehoshua: Good point. I had the option in there in an early draft, but I took it out in the interest of simplicity.

    I was taught to always write Taz unless Rambam is specified (Ashkenazi, Beis Yosef writing). In theory, anyone who wants Beis Yosef writing and also wants Rambam parshi'os knows that he wants Rambam and will ask for it. The same applies to Rabeinu Tam tefilin — it's not relevant for most people, if it is relevant it will be requested without prompting.

    All out-of-the-ordinary options can be added by hand in the "Additional Info" section.

    Do you think Rambam parshi'os have broad relevance?

  3. Etan -

    I understand you. For the more "educated" buyer they should or will know what they are interested in. For the uneducated buyer I suppose like you said they won't care if they get Taz or Rambam...However perhaps it's good to educate the masses. Maybe find a way to simply explain the difference? I suppose most though will just take Taz.

    I'm not a sofer but a posek and I am just starting to learn Hilchos STaM right now (especially after hearing from my Rebbe, R' Shammai Gross so many times the importance of Rabbonim knowing STaM since many in fact don't know!)
    My chevrusa and I when we got to this sif in Siman 32 he himself had no idea of the maklokes
    (I myself had a yedia at least and enough that when I purchased new tefillin 4-5 years ago I bought Rambam davka.)
    In any case this chevrusa is bli ayin a very big talmud chocham (lots of yedias in Shas and Shulchan Aruch, he knows other seforim very well, Nach, etc. just this maklokes he never came to) In any case he himself also purchased new tefillin a couple years ago and spent a lot of time looking at different parshiyos, checking out the sofrim, asking his Rebbe for advice, etc. This point of Taz and Rambam never came up. However after learning the inyun he said "hmm, I wonder what I have? Probably Taz!? The socher didn't even ask me..."

    Now he wishes then he had known more of this maklokes and would have made a more "educated" decision at the least.

  4. Another point...
    Here in Eretz Yisrael amongst charedim (b'frat chassidim and not just Chabad) many take Rambam. Most of these people that I've met though that do this are for sure more "educated" in the inyun

  5. @ Yehoshua: Point taken, but as you yourself said — this is a subject that requires a great deal of background. As such, it may not be possible to address it effectively in a one page worksheet.

    For now, I am comfortable leaving the option out. I may decide to put it in a later version.

  6. first of all in taz alone there are 2 opinions -taz that equal nine yudin called by sofrim taz taz,or taz osios gedolos-which means leaving nine yuds on top and nine large letters betziruf.
    it seems to me that most unknowing customers should get taz osios gedolos.
    A very interesting point is that the minhag depends on geography.people originating from russia which includes skvere chernobel (chabad the real ones do 3 times asher on both sides but it is also based on not accepting the taz) and litvaks that come from russia-as reb moishe feinstein and his family all use rambam.
    satmat ger use taz taz
    bobov uses taz osios gedolos
    sfardi ksav should allways be rambam
    feel free to add other minhagim or to contradict me.

  7. etan how about grading the STa"M ?
    i have a sheet with a box next to bdieved
    kosher lechatchila
    now when somebody purchases a kosher mezuza you start asking what range price and you get the regular "if its kosher its kosher"
    when he gets the sheet and the kosher gets checked off he asks "oh its not lechatchila"? then you know this is a customer you can educate.

  8. @ Beis Hastam: Thanks for the comments.

    Re. osios gedolos vs. osios ketanos: The Mishna Berura, Keset Hasofer, Pri Megadim and Mikdash Me'at all say osios ketanos. Rav Elyashiv, Rav Nissim Karelitz and Rav Chaim Kanievsky all say osios ketanos. Rav Moshe's teshuva on the topic ends with a tzarich iyun.

    Re. Rambam vs. Taz: I just heard from a colleague — who is a total Brisker and is close with Rav Elyashiv — that years ago he asked Rav Elyashiv if he should write himself a second pair of tefilin with Rambam parshi'os… Rav Elyashiv responded that he should write himself a second pair — and they should also be Taz (!).

    Re. grading the STAM… I think it might be a good idea, but I'm not yet sure how I'd like to implement it. I'll file that with "stuff to consider for future versions".

    Keep the ideas coming!

  9. This is not an easy topic. It has harsh ramifications as the wrong shitta can be meakev in certain cases. I once wrote an article for a publication for the layman to help explain the different shittos. I posted it on the blog in the early days

  10. The comments are very much appreciated even if I don't incorporate them into the current version. For now I'm pretty much leaving the worksheet as-is. I did make some minor design and proofreading changes and re-uploaded it as version 1.00.

    I have some other projects cooking right now, but I will probably come back to this soon. At that time I will have to figure out if it's worthwhile to add in more options or just KISS.

    One of the suggestions that was made in another forum was to add checkboxes next to the choices (righty/lefty, square/dalet, etc.). does anyone here think it's necessary? would it add to the usability of the worksheet?

    Thanks for all the input.

  11. etan :use it for a year or 2 -you will be much smarter:as for your list of osios ktanos-first of all most people will do like the minhag of their parents -it would be nice to compile a list of mainhagim
    see chazon ish siman 10-2- then see shevet halevi chelek 5 siman 12
    have you ever seen sefer הסתומה שבסת"מ?
    has list of poskim to do osios gedolos very nice sefer

  12. The series of blog posts that is the basis of this worksheet is finally finished. An index to the compete series (along with a summary of the main points) is here.

    1. Hi Etan,
      Great worksheet! This gives the prospective buyer a wonderful orientation/perspective of what to expect when purchasing STa"M.

      Because the worksheet is intended for the layman, I would suggest clarifying what is meant by Rashba, Avnei Nezer (in tefilin and mezuzos) with regards to hidurim.

      Otherwise, an excellent worksheet. Keep up the good work.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Thanks!

      In the post on Evaluating STAM in the Market, I explain the various hidurim.

      I just amended the Index & Summary post to clarify that it is just an outline and there are more details in the linked posts in the series.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Not a "khaf"

תיבה מיותרת במזוזה