I need some advice here...

I posted a question earlier in the week regarding a sefer that seemed to be getting water damaged easily, and what could be done to waterproof the ksav somewhat. I am still a little worried about this sefer, and would like to share my predicament with members of this forum, in hope of receiving some advice or insight.

 Some months ago I sold a new sefer Torah to a shul here in Melbourne. The sofer who wrote the sefer is a sofer mumacha with a beautiful ksav.  As usual,  I had the sefer checked first by computer, then manually, then tikkunim (repairs) and then a second time by computer. (The magiha who did the manual examination is a magiha mumcha with 30 years experience and although he charges twice the usual amount for the job, I find that it is worth it because he is extremely reliable).

The sefer was used for a few months and received many compliments from all who saw or lained from it. So far, so good.

Two weeks ago however, a problem was found and it was put back in the middle of laining. A stain was found on one of the letters which totally passeled it. See the picture below. I received the call from the shul after Shabbos and naturally I was very disappointed and somewhat embarrassed. See the picture below of the stain...

I was convinced that such a stain surely would have happened after the Torah was already in the possession of the shul. Perhaps a rain drop had fallen from someone's hat or the like. To prove it I asked the computer examiner for the photo of that omud from the second computer check. Of course it did not have the stain. Furthermore, if you looked at the stain you could see that on the back of the klaf there was a black mark corresponding to the place of the stain (see below), indicating that the damage occurred after the sefer was already on the aitz chayims and most likely after the siyum.

So I explained this to the relevant parties, and emailed them the original computer image (see below).

The very next week however, also in the middle of laining, another problem was found.  This time it was a mark between 2 letters. See below.

Again, I felt there was no way both my magiha as well as the computer check could have missed this. So I asked again for the photo of the second computer check, which again, was clean (see below).

I again explained to the relevant parties that I am 100% confident that this too occurred after it was already in the shul's possession and that it was most likely caused by spittle. I explained that the problem is not the fault of the sofer or that it was not checked properly.

The rabbi asked me if perhaps there is something wrong with the ink. (Fair question, given the circumstances.) . He told me that he had never seen such a thing once, let alone two weeks in a row. I checked with the sofer and he told me he used Dyo Nahari, which is the most popular ink on the market. Furthermore, and in all fairness to the rabbi's concern, there are other sifrei Torah in the same shul (which I had sold them in previous years) which were all written with dyo Nahari and never had such a problem (even once) over the years.

I am now worried that this may happen again. If it does, not only would it be seriously embarrassing  for me, it would also be very embarrassing for the donors, who are already somewhat concerned. This was not a cheap sefer, and none of the other seforim in that shul are showing any signs of damage.

I thought about waterproofing the sefer with fixative, hence my post earlier in the week. I'm just worried about the long term effects it may have on the sefer.

Any advice or insights would be appreciated.


  1. Wow! This is not a pleasant situation to be in. Deyo Nahari is a great ink, but as we all know, 99 percent of all inks used in STaM are water soluble.

    Because of the above fact, I would recommend not spraying this new Sefer Torah. It is no different than other new Sefer Torahs, plus the fixative may damage the klaf.

    The real culprit is that the scroll is getting wet. It may behoove you to observe who is getting "Aliyat Cohen or Levy" as these are the persons called up most often to read. It may be that it is an older gentleman who cannot control his lips properly causing spittle to come out when he says the bracha.

    The Rabbi and owners need to be impressed that this is not the fault of the Sofer or Scroll and that it is their responsibility to insure that the scroll remains dry.

    1. The sefer was lained by two separate minyanim in the same shule over the wto weks, therefore no one baal koreh or oleh can be blamed.

      Also the issue the rabbi brought up is that nothing like this has ever happened to any of the other seforim, so if its due to a certain factor like an elderly gentleman spitting, it would be noticeable on the other seforim too.

  2. It is a problem I have had in the past and I was not able to find a solution however, I was able to push the situation along for 2 years with fixing and requesting the baal korah to be careful, asking the shabbas mincha gabay to be extremely careful when it rains not to give aliya to anybody with wet hat or clothing. Bootom line is some inks take 3 years to be full dried. this problem will happen less as time passes. The drying time of ink varies on how much water the sofer added to ink and the weather the yeriot were written at. My problem was with a Toray written in Chaifa-any clue there?

    1. Shmuel, it sounds like you had a similar situation to what I have here.

      This sefer was written in Kiryat Gat, not Haifa.

  3. I think the problem is with the klaf. check it out!

    1. how could klaf affect the solubility of the ink?

    2. Reb Moshe, I am very curious as to your comments because the only difference between this and the other seforim in the shul is that a different type of klaf was used here

  4. Another good reason to write only with water-resistant ink. And you know which one it is...

    Rabbenu Tam prohibited the use of Afatzim in ink, because, as he says it, it causes the ink to be forever wet. Too much Afatzim in a production batch will cause the ink to be somewhat like honey. Honey never dries. Even when dried completely in an oven, when we take it out it absorbs moisture from the air and turns wet again. This kind of ink can do the same. It retains too much moisture in it, and when a drop of water or spit falls on it, it quickly dissolves and spreads.

    Rabbenu Tam knew what he is saying when he prohibited Afatzim in the ink.

    1. The problem is that 99% of sofrim in Israel use the afatzim ink such as nahari, so I cannot blame the sofer here nor can I fault why davkeh this sefer is so temperamental when others in the same shul written with afotzim ink are not

  5. I agree with "Beis Hastam" its time of year/weather plus ink mixture.
    Two times I had a small spray on what I was writing (I figured out why, my silly mistake) was the same klaf. The firs time it was disasterous, really running the ink and letters. The second time it was almost a non-issue with very little cleaning up.
    The only differences between the two:
    1. the "bad" damage happened in summer v. winter (NY)
    2. the bad damage was in my early months of writing, so I was not as practiced at prepping the klaf and getting the right ink mixture.
    I use Dio Nahari (same bottle for both issues)

  6. Hi Chevere,

    Here is my two cents on this issue

    1) All seforim, especially new ones, have occasional spittle water droplet issues that arise and need repair. No one can be blamed for this - it is usual wear and tear. There is nothing wrong with this sefer, or klaf, or ink etc

    2) The fact that this happened two weeks in a row is just sheer (bad) luck.

    3) The ink will become less temperamental with time, as Rabbi Traub correctly points out above it could take a few years for the ink to absorb and dry fully.

    Kol Tuv and have a great Shabbos

    1. Thanks Nachman. the fact that the sefer was used almost weekly for 6 months prior to these incidents makes me think you are correct, especially in point no 2)

      Good Shabbos

  7. R' Eli,

    Do you know, or have a way to know what the humidity level is in the aron where this sefer is kept? I ask because where I live the humidity is extremely high and Nahari ink here seems to almost melt at times and stick to the back of the klaf when its rolled. A possible solution if this is the problem would be to take measures to control/reduce the humidity in the aron and the shul.

    1. I don't think it's humidity, Melbourne is not a humid climate, also the other seforim are not having issues...

  8. I completely agree with what some others have written already:

    1. Almost all sifrei torah in the world are written with water soluble ink. Probably more than 99%.

    2. These inks do 'cure' somewhat over the years and become a bit less sensitive to water. So it is possible that they don't ever have this issue with their older sefarim whereas a brand new sefer may bleed with the smallest drop of saliva or water.

    3. The fact that this happened twice in a short period of time with two separate readers etc.is unusual but doesn't indicate anything about the quality of the ink or klaf. It is just coincidence (AKA Hashgocha Protis).

    I am very interested in R. Moshes comment that it may be the klaf. I'm not sure what he may be referring to.

    BTW one thing strange about this whole situation is that in the first picture, the ink has bled to a blue color. This is very strange since Nehari turns brown/red when diluted very much not blue. There are commercial black inks which will bleed to blue like in the picture. This leads me to wonder if the sefer may have been written with an ink other than nehari, Or if there may be some sabotage involved in this situation. Perhaps kinas sofrim? I have unfortunately seen such things in the past.

    1. Aaron, I agree with you on points 1-3.

      I am also very interested in Reb Moshe's reasoning re the Klaf.

      Re your last point, I don't think this is the case, the donor is a well liked person and I don't think anyone is that crazy or dislikes me that much!

  9. I have noticed (in the last several years) two problems that occur in kelafim.
    A. there are klafs (or somebody processing klaf), that has in the middle layer tunnels, that allow the dyo to spread under the surface moving thru the klaf, first unnoticed and later turn up, causing big problems. I am sure you know about this type of klaf.
    B. sometimes the klaf was not dried properly [IE the process was not complete] and there is recess liquid/fat in the klaf.
    The latter is quite uncommon, but might occur.

    Eli check out what type of klaf this is. If this doesnt reoccur it is a [hashgacha pratis] coincidence, but if it happens more, I am afraid it has something to do with the klaf.

    The second negiya doesnt look like spittle.

    1. The reason I'm so interested if the klaf may be a factor is because it's the only thing that's different to the other sifrei torah in the shul. This is because the donor was instructed by one of his rabbis to use shlill klaf from a beheima shchutah. I asked all the big klaf manufacturers and none of them were able to source me this type of klaf. I was finally referred to someone who makes their own klaf, by hand, who could source me the appropriate skins. I'm not saying hes an amatuer I'm just saying he's not one of the big well known commercial klaf compannies I have used before, and it's possible they may not have been dried in the same manner or level of perfection as the commercial klaf.

      Regarding the second stain, the reason why we think it was spittle is because it was not raining that day and the baal koreh, who is also a sofer, noticed. that it got worse (bled) during laining. It's hard to tell in the picture but the negiyah is more watery and matte than the regular ink and has a circular shape.

  10. All klafs retain a certain percentage of moisture. Some more, some less. Ink drying is not so much by evaporation to the air but mostly by absorption of the water into the klaf. If it is a type of klaf that retains more moisture, it will inhibit the drying of the ink.

    Many years ago, when we lived in Arizona, I dried Mezuzot in the sun. It may be possible to spread the Sefer on a long chain of tables in the sun, on a day with no clouds - zero risk of rain. About 30 minutes of sun exposure per open section, will greatly reduce the moisture in the klaf, and speed up the drying of the ink.

    Don't over do it. Dry Nahari ink is very brittle. If the ink dries too much, it may turn brittle and crack.

    1. Thanks, I think that's it then. I will ask the donor either to be patient until it dries out or perhaps do the sun idea.
      Meanwhile I will ask the gaboim in the shul to be careful that no liquid or moisture gets anywhere near it.

  11. In light of the last few comments that suggest the klaf may be the cause, I am going to conduct an experiment where I will make a similar mark with Nahari ink on both the regular commercial klaf and the shchuta shllil klaf. I will give it a few days drying time and then I will use a dropper to drop a tiny amount of water on to each of the marks and see if I notice any significant difference in the bleeding.

    (Fortunately I have a few extra pieces of the shchutah shllil klaf because I ordered some for a megillah I was hoping to write for myself.

    1. Good experiment to do.

      I suggest expanding the experiment. If you have old Nahari and new Nahari inks, or such type ink from another manufacturer, make marks with these inks too. Then, compare them all with a drop of water.

    2. Ive only got new nahari ink which is the same as the sofer used (and your ink which I use too, but there is no need to test that one). I will hopefully have the results tomorrow.

  12. After experimenting, the shchuta shilil klaf that was used for this particular sefer and the regular klaf I have , there was not much difference. the schuta shill klaf did bleed a little more but they both bled pretty badly, similar to Zvi's test above see

    Its very possible that there is more moisture in the klaf in the section that had the damage, perhaps it was manufactured in the winter or did not dry well, making that section more susceptible.

    At any rate, with thanks to all the expert opinion here, I have reached the following conclusion:

    1) Nahari ink is extremely water soluble.

    2) Nahari Ink becomes more water resistant with time and can take up to 2 years to "cure".

    3) the sefer here was definitely exposed to something external (water / spittle) after the second computer check, which is basically done after all work is completed on the sefer, indicating that this is not the fault of the sofer or examiner.

    4)The special klaf here may or may possibly a contributing factor in delaying the ink's drying time.

    5) It was probably bad luck that it got damaged two weeks in a row.

    6) I will ask the rabbi and gaboim to be more careful as per rabbi Traub's case above which will hopefully minimize the chances of this happening again.

    7) I will periodically look through the Torah over the next year to make sure no further damage has occurred.

    8) I may take on Tzvi's suggestion of laying it out in the sun to expedite the drying process, If the donor / shul agrees.

    I would like to thank everyone for their support and advice. this is really what the forum was created for. If any one has further suggestions or insights please feel free to comment.

  13. R' Eli: Before you do the sun exposure, please do one more experiment and let us know the results.

    a) Take two pieces of klaf shlil. On both of them make similar marks with the same Nahari ink.

    b) Let them air dry for one day.

    c) Turn on your kitchen oven and set the temperature to about 90 degrees C. Place one (only one) piece of marked klaf in the oven and bake it for one hour.

    d) Take out the klaf from the oven and let it sit in the air next to the second (unbaked) klaf for about an hour. Make a pencil mark on the baked klaf so you know which is which.

    e) Drip tiny drops of water on the ink marks on both klafim. Observe the spreading.

    Do they spread the same? Almost the same? Who spreads more?


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