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Thursday, November 15, 2012

scratching letters for a siyum

Hi all,

I recently had a situation where I ordered a sefardi sefer torah and the sofer left only a few letters to be filled in by the shul. the shul wants more for donors and want to know if i can scratch out some letters, to be filled in at the siyum .

The sefer has osiyos nifsakim at the end, not osiyos challalim, so the sefer is definitely NOT kosher. Furthermore the yeriyos are not sewn together yet, so it is a work in progress. Question is, can one make more small nifsakim to accommodate the extra donors? Obviously hashems name cannot be touched but what about some other words / letters?

Feedback appreciated...

11 comments:

  1. R. Eli - I have had this request on a number of occasions. Once in my early days, I complied and scratched out some insides of the gag without breaking the outline for the extra donors, but never really felt comfortable with this, as even though the letters were still technically kasher it just seemed wrong. Making a letter deliberately not kasher also seems very wrong, so I don't do it even if asked nowadays. However quite a lot of the time people accommodate things mipney kavod hatsibur and if the extra donors are contributing ts'dakah to the shul or a good cause then then might be considered worth it. Kol Sofrim 2:6 warns against unscrupulous scribes who leave too many spaces for completion in order to raise more money presumably because this raises the risk of a non-shomer person completing or shows the sofer not to be a 'hater of profit' (Keset 1:1). However I don't recall seeing any other discussion of this. Will do a check.

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  2. Absolutely should not be done. The seforim have extremely strong warnings against this. I am travelling right now, but will send mareh mekomot when I get into the shop.

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    1. One of my sofrim told me that he once left too few letters and he asked rav stern who permitted it

      I will call him back and ask him th eexact circumstances and which rav stern. it would be nice to know if this is credible

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    2. I would very much like to hear the answer to this and what Rav Stern says.

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    3. Rav Avraham, can you please post the sources that support not doing this. I have a sofer in Israel who swears rav Stern allowed him to do it

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    4. I spoke to the sofer, the rav who was machshir was shmuel eliezer stern, the case was that the sofer left only left a few leters at the end and they wanted to have him rewrite the last yeriya and leave more space. Rav stern said better to erase and make more letters then put the yeriya in geniza

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    5. How interesting - so in effect Rav Stern was 'sacrificing' some letters to preserve the rest of the yeriah. Look forward to seeing R. Avraham's sources.

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  3. The bigger chiddush is that for the sake of giving some additional people a ceremonial kibbud you can passul letters.
    You also must assume that the last yeriah would have gone to geniza rather than be used by the sofer for another sefer Torah. If the yeria could have been used with another sefer then he could have rewritten the last yeriah and there then may not have been a heter to passul letters.

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  4. Permitted or not, what sofer would have the heart to deliberately ruin perfectly good letters in a sefer torah?!

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    1. I discussed this issue with a few soferim, and all of them expressed horror at the idea.

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  5. Apologies for being tardy in my reply - I have been swamped lately and am only now having a chance to get to this.

    See Shulchan Melachim 104b, Seif 33: http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9006&st=&pgnum=227
    While he assurs erasing letters, he also writes the Yeria should not be rewritten because we don't want to put the old one in a geniza.

    Also Imrei Shefer 17:6 & Vayitzaber Yosef Ois 5.

    The Nitei Gavriel also cites a teshuvah from HaPardes on the issue, but I couldn't find the edition he cites.

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