Showing posts from May, 2013

Yud touching long nun

While each case must be judged for itself I once heard the following. Normally when a yud is touching a vav or zion and could possibly turn the ois into a "ches" is more of a problem then a case of a yud touching a long Nun. The fact the the regel is so long, doesn't begin to go into the sofek of looking like a Ches. Do any achronim or seforim speak about this case (in a general ofen. Like I said of course difficult to say an exact clal since every case is different.)

Water on Nahari ink - continued

A month ago we discussed water damage to Nahari ink. I then suggested drying the affected Sefer Torah in the sun, hoping that the ink will dry and be less susceptible to water damage. I made an experiment. The following was written with new-fresh Nahari ink on klaf. It was then allowed to air dry for two weeks. Then, the letter ד was wetted with water. Some ink spread on the klaf. The klaf was then baked dry at 100 degrees C for 2 hours, to make sure the ink is really really dry. The klaf was then taken out and allowed to stand in room air for 2 hours. Then, the letter ר   was wetted with water. Some ink spread on the klaf, with a different spread pattern. It appears that drying the ink did not help. I now suspect that drying the Sefer Torah in the sun will also not help. Why does the ink spread even after good drying? .

850 Year Old Sefer Torah? Update: high quality photos!

Article here: Italian Articles here if you read Italian (I don't): (This article seems to be showing a different sefer than the one in the other two articles.) Update: I found much clearer photos here: I have also posted the photos of the ksav below. Click to enlarge:

Lamed going into the daled

What does the olam think about the daled with the lamed possibly going into its cholol?

3 times "ASHER" in Mezuzah

In connection with what Rabbi Michael Tzadok wrote about sqeezing in ג"פ אשר before והיה אם שמע, I recall doing it once without a problem, but that was pre-digital years so I have no picture of it. Therefore today during a break I scribbled it again and presto!! I even had 5 mm spare... I wrote this on a line size that is equal to a 15 cm מזוזה and the width of the line is the "standard" 12.5 cm. In the beginning I really wrote tight but toward the last words I saw that there is enough space so I stopped squeezing and there is still a 5 mm "extra". I never really understood the logic in "starting under this word" or "starting under that letter", all that has to be done is to measure the space accordingly. And if there still is not enough space you can also simply ask the משרטט to give you an extra 5-6 mm ( if you have access to him).

Need help evaluating sefer torah

Hi , Could  I please get the help of some experienced sochrim, what would be the fair price for a private sale of a sefer torah including all checkings in the ksav below. price in Israel I guess... A) I know is more simple and B) is very beautiful but assuming they are both frum ehrliche sofrim with ksav kaballah what would be the prices. I'm not looking to sell anything this is purely for my own research with a customer. You can click on the images to see them clearly Thanks                                                               A                                                                                                                                                                            B                         

More Hiddur Woes

I wrote this Mezzuza to help my own teacher fill an order.  I managed to get the Ayin and Dalet low enough without causing a negia to satisfy him.  However the part that I am not happy with is the first line of והיה. The י  of אנכי is just barely within the shora.  The issue stems from trying the need for a parsha stumah.  The Shulhan Arukh says that Sephardim have the custom to extend the last line of the first parsha to the end of the shora and leave a space of 9 otiot at the beginning of the second parasha. While there are some Sephardi Poskim who permit shitat HaTaz for Mezzuzot, Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul have been kind enough to declare them possul.  So we are left with trying to fit the space of three time the word אשר(for hiddur purposes) into the beginning of the parasha. While I know that there are opinions(the Yeriat Shlomo for instance) that state the three times אשר is the space of 22 yudin, which wouldn't be so bad, I wasn't writing for t

mezuza on sailboat?

OK, I have to admit, I do not recall learning the halacha for this situation, so please help me out... my in-laws want to place a mezuza on the main doorway of their sailboat. They consider their boat their second home, and live on it for most of the summer. What to tell them?

Forum update

Firstly I would like to welcome all new members who have joined in recent weeks, my apologies for not updating the new members list. I hope to do that soon. Thanks to Rabbi Michael Tzadok, one of the new members for adding a Sephardic flavor to the forum, something that has definitely been lacking until now. There was a nice article about the forum on, a respectable NY communal website, see it here  . A special thanks to Dovid for arranging that. I have received input from a number of members regarding changing the forum model to something more like this type of style. I only used BlogSpot because I was familiar with it from before. My biggest interest is to have posts indexed nicely by topic, something I don't know how to do on BlogSpot. Input, as usual , is appreciated..

Hiddur Ayin & Daled continued...

Hi R. Michael, Here is a picture from an older shel-yad in which the AYIN & DALED of Shema' descend to the lower sirtut as described in your previous post.  I believe, that both Hakham  Ben Tzion Abba Shaul and Rav Mordekhai Eliyahu stipulated the above as a hiddur in order to comply with the directive of the Arizal that  the SHIUR of the big DALED of SHEMA' should be that of four small DALEDs. If one takes a look at the pictures of the older Sifrei Torah in your previous post, one will notice that they were meticulous as to not extend their large letters above the upper sirtut.  Since normal letters extend into the middle of the sirtut, the only way to maintain the requirement of the Ari was to double the size of the letter, thus extending the foot all the way down to the lower sirtut. We all know that the above is not explicitly required by halakha.  The only requirement is that these letters should be slightly larger so that it may include at least four tiny DALE

Smudged tag on top of Beis

I didn't see the shailo yet itself however I heard today someone say they found a Beis in a Mezuzah that the tag is somewhat "smudged". To what degree or how much I don't know. However what would be the din if ... (1) It's not niker anymore as a tag. Should they erase it and attempt to fix it? Or simply erase it and leave nothing there. (2) Is niker but however "not so nice" because it's smudged. The same thing, should this be erased and fixed or erased and not fixed? Or not to erase at all? I realize it's difficult to describe without a picture. Maybe I'll try and get if I can before whatever happens, happens.

500yrs of Sefardi Sifrei Torah

This first one was written by Rav Yitzchak Abuhav for the Arizal, in which the Ari wrote all of the shemot hakodesh himself: This one is from Rav Sulamein Ochana, a Persian sofer from the roughly the same time.  What is interesting about both of these first two is that the sephardi sofrim were clearly holding by Rashi and not Rambam on the shape of the Chet. This one is from Rav Yedida Rafael Abulafia, 7th Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaMekubalim Beit El, who served as sofer for the previous five Roshei Yeshivot. This is the writing of the Kol Yaakov himself.  Notice at this point the mekubalim started placing a tag on the vav of Shem HaShem. Sefer Torah from Rav Ezra Shayo an important Rav, posek, mekubal and sofer in Beit El This is from Rav Yehuda Patya a famous mekubal and sofer.  You can see in this his attempt to get the Ayin and Dalet as close to the sirtut as possible.  Also that he placed a tag on the vav of shem hashem, though it seems he was ch

A Hair's Breath!

Hi Eli, What you notice is correct.  Here is a sample of a beautiful sefer written by HaGaon Sadka Houssin around the turn of the century in Baghdad.  As you may notice, the writing is extremely exacting/mehudar.  Likewise, there is little spacing between the words. The above phenomenon is not part of a leniency.  Rather, it's part of an ancient tradition of what is involved in fulfilling the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah Min Hamuvhar.   As the RAMBAM clarifies for us, "One should write with very careful and attractive calligraphy, leaving the space the size of a small letter  between each word and a hairsbreath space between each letter". Hilkhot Sefer Torah 7,4 As can be seen, the above directive was carried out with punctilious precision.  More so, although the words are very close, one is able to differentiate between one and the other with impressive clarity.  Today, we are not as expert, therefore our practice has become to leave a slightly larger space

What were they thinking?

I've noticed a trend in some of the older (pre war) Sefardi sifrei Torah, particularly those written on gvil, where there is very little space between words. Sometimes the space is virtually indistinguishable from the space between the letters. Certainly today's poskim would have an issue with that. But these are not cheap seforim, these are otherwise well written  and mehudar. Does anyone know if a sefardic leniency exists or what other logical explanation for this phenomenon?

Hiddur Ayin and Dalet

Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul and Rav Mordekhai Eliyahu say that if the Ayin and Dalet do not at least touch and preferably cross the sirtut of the line below the resulting tefillin, mezzuza or S"T has no hiddur.  I'm not trying to argue their positions, but does anyone have an idea of how to pull that off in Tefilin.  Especially without posuling the dalet by having have the tagin of the letters below enter it? So far this is as good as I have been able to manage.

Second hand sifrey torah

Twice in one week I've had approaches from synagogues who are 'downsizing' in the economic climate/moving to new premises and want to sell some of their excess sifrey torah (though most will need repair before being sold as kasher). I've started putting out feelers in the UK for congregations who might have a need but would welcome views on any congregations who could benefit from this/new homes. Whilst I've done many many repairs and acted as an agent for sale once or twice, it isn't something I've done a lot. So I would welcome other people's views and experience and suggestions. Todah, Mordechai

Kulmos HaShamir

I've seen ads for "Kulmos HaShamir", a ceramic kulmos. Can anyone who's used this offer any feedback?

Siyyum Question

I've recently completed a new Sefer Torah and will be holding the siyyum in early June.  At the request of the shul I've left quite a large number of letters open so that "as many as wish to may participate in the mitzvah." My concern is that given the large number of people called up, many, perhaps most of whom I will not know, that among these individuals could be invitees who are not shomer mitzvos, or perhaps even halachically Jewish.  Does anyone have a politic way of allowing people to 'participate' in the filling of the letters without running the risk of rendering a year and a half of work posul?  Also, what would be the correct course of action if it did come to my attention that one or more letters had been written by someone who is posul for writing, but after the fact I had no way of knowing which ones?  Would it be permissible to use an ink for the siyyum, dyo l'netzach for example, which before it has fully cured can be peeled off the kla

sha'ala on kof

I was sent some Mezzuzah's to check.  Oddly enough one was still new in a plastic wrapper with this hekhsher on the back: However upon inspecting it visually these were some of the more glaring issues that I found: Does anyone know anything about this Hekhsher?

Applying Mei Klaf (מי קלף) - eitzahs?

up until now i've employed a small cotton swab (q-tip) to apply mei klaf. the advantage is that a little goes a long way. i would also use the same q-tip each time, eventually causing a slightly noticeable mark to form around the area where the mei klaf had dried. i was told this was from particles of dust or dirt that had been on the q-tip. i'm looking for a new method to apply mei klaf that conserves on the materials (and amount of mei klaf) being used any advice? l'chaim, pesach

Mezuzah in "space" carved into a doorpost

If someone simply carved out a space in the doorpost and stuck the mezuzah there (inside of a case) would this be kosher? In such a case the mezuzah in it's case will stay where it is however it's rather easy to simply remove from there since it's not nailed in. If anyone has any insights (or b'frat mareh makomos) on this please share.

scan - size sensitive

The samech of 'vesartem' is tiny. Although there is no shiyur (me'akev) of the challal of the letters, including the samech. But it is obvious that a tiny slit isn't considered at all challal, and is pasul because of shinuy tzuras ha'os. In the case at hand, the scan shows me a samech that is pasul. But any slight variation will change the picture - the size of the challal in relation to the letter at large. Therefore I can not decide from the scan in this case, this has to be seen in reality to decide.

Plastic Kulmus Tips

Does anyone know of a way to get plastic kulmus tips in or around the New York City area and/or online? The last time I saw them was in Monsey a few years ago (they may still have them there, I just haven't been to Monsey for a while) and any leads would be appreciated. Tizku l'mitzvos!
I know this might be total am haratzes but ein habayshan lamed I have seen many people on different safrus blogs that they highlight a letter and encircle the letter. Sometimes thought the letter with the problem is in hashems name. I was wondering if this is okay on computer even if it sometimes covers up hashems name. on a more personnel level I highlight hashems name with a highlighter and was wondering if that is okay. Input would be appreciated.

My Article on paskening shailos from electronic images, printed this week in a local Kovetz

Introduction When checking STa”M (Sifrei Torah, tefillin and Mezuzos) , it is not uncommon for an examiner to encounter a shailos chochom , a question that requires the psak (ruling) of an expert rav or moreh horoah .  However not all morei horoah / rabbanim are comfortable answering technical shaolos in STa”M - as a matter of fact very few are. Additionally, virtually all the noteworthy poskim in STa”M today live in Eretz Yisroel . As a sofer living in Melbourne, I have personally relied heavily on overseas rabonnim to answer my questions, either by telephone or by email. If the question concerns a tzuras haos (formation of a letter), very often I will take a clear digital photograph or high resolution scan and email it to the rov for a ruling. In the past, upon receiving an answer, I  would often share the email with other sofrim around the world who were on my email list. Likewise, many of them shared their answers with me. (Over the years I have amassed hundr

problem with akev of beis

The second beis [in 'levavcha'] doesn't have an akev at all. This type of akev of the beis (found in russian & chabad ksav) is a bend outward of the descending  line "gav", making an akev. It must start around half way down of the back of the beis, so the akev is the bottom part protruding. Here the bend starts immediate after the gag, so it is the back of the beis and not an akev. Although most poskim pasken that a clearly squared beis is kosher [Mishnat Sofrim, Chatam Sofer], there are some poskim that demand an "akev kolshehu" (some protruding oketz) [see Mishnat Hasofer]. and all agree that lechatchila a beis must include an akev. Therefore this beis must be fixed, by scraping a bit from the beis before it, allowing space to add an akev.

Is this kosher lechatchillah?

Hi, If a sefer was written in  ksav beis yosef but shemos written like the kaballah of the arizal. I have never seen this before. Is this lechatchillah ok or is there any detraction of kashrus or the like? Its being sold as kosher lechatchillah , is this correct?

Sending a sefer torah in the mail

I can't remember if this has been discussed before on the forum but is one allowed to send a kosher sefer (with aitz chayims) wrapped in a box or suitcase by mail or cargo? Or can it only be taken by hand? Or Does it have to be made unkosher like unstitching two yeriyios if such a thing is even allowed? I'm sure this has an easy answer but I've only mailed parts of sifre Torah (which is definitely allowed) but I now have to transport a kosher one.

Parsha stumah in Shema by Tefillin d'R"T

A sofer was writting R"T tefillin and didn't leave 9 oisios at the end of "v'haya im shamo'ah" (in the shel yad.) In Mishnas HaSofer from R' Yaakov Meir Stern (Siman 26 Sif-Katan 15) he writes that by R"T this isn't m'acev b'dieved. In Note 18 he is m'tzian the following teshuvas: Noda B'Yehuda Tinyana Siman 5 , Shut R' Chaim Kohen Rappaport Siman 1 , Shoel U'Mashiv Mahadurah Kammah Chelek Beis SIman 30 and Remah (רמ"ע) Siman 37 . The question is are the poskim l'maseh makil in this? Obviously I'm assuming the sofer would have to tell the koneh however maybe he could sell these tefillin for cheaper if the original buyer wouldn't want them. R' Shammai was asked this shailo and told the sofer that it's a problem (i.e. pasul), however after someone mentioned to him the makilim that R' Yaakov Meir Stern brings down he said he didn't know or perhaps didn't remember there were makilim

Someone in NY who repairs Atzei Chaim

Someone contacted me recently looking for someone in NY who repairs Atzei Chaim. Any leads would be appreciated. Thanks.

Three questions:

1) Does anyone know if there is anything written about the halachic perspective of putting an old possul sefer torah in a display cabinet in the foyer of a shul? 2) I have a sefer Torah that sags a little and its hard to roll during hagbah (ashkenaz style) , they have to fiddle with the klaf  so that it rolls straight. Is there a solution for this? 3) Does anyone know a chasidesher sofer in Amsterdam Holland or even Antwerp Belgium or vicinity who has kabola from Mishmeres Stam? It's for someone in Amsterdam but Antwerp is not too far for them. Thanks!

Certified Scribe in Baltimore

Looking for sofer musmach in Baltimore that can check alter rebbe ksav parshios. Many Litvishe Sofrim have a problem checking alter rebbe ksav.

R' Shammai Gross and pictures from a computer

Just wanted to share a general point and a "maaseh rav" from today. Eli had posted recently what he heard from R' Friedlander in regards to paskening from a computer image or print out. Many shailos that I've seen on this forum and on R' Moshe's Hebrew forum I have brought to R' Shammai as a way of learning (this helped a lot in the shimush that I've made by him. Usually there are shailos in STaM by the Beis Horah every day however it was good to always bring more.) I've so far asked around 250 shailos from printed images and have them all saved in a folder as well as the psakim written in my notes on the computer. I have another 500 or so that I haven't asked yet! Aside from the folder with the printed images I hope to organize one day a Power Point presentation with all the images and psakim written out nicely and clearly. There were some printouts that I brought that I was asked to get an official psak on. No matter what the shailo as

Double kuzu - in back of mezuza

Double kuzu - the sofer made a mistake in the first one skipping a samech [BTW the last 2 zayinin, are more vav than zayin] and was afraid to erase the 'shemos' so he wrote a new kuzu above. 1) since these shemos are not me'akev at all the mezuza, it is kosher with 2 kuzu. 2) it was permitted to erase the first kuzu [more accurate from the (lacking) samech down], since these are not true 'shemos' that are forbidden to erase, rather 'kinuyim' (other secondary/derivative names) that are not kodesh and permitted to be erased for great need as tikun. That should of been done rather than write a second one.

Relying on Non Jewish or Non frum company reps with regard to verifying kashrus of ink

Continuing with the topic of ink, which seems to be our topic of interest at present, I have a question for Yehoshuah to please ask Rav Shammai Gross Sh'; If a company representative tells a customer that no animal by -products are in a specific ink can that be relied upon from a kashrus point of view? The reason why I ask is because I understand that  the common use in the ST'M industry of  Staedtler "Paper 745" rapidograph ink for uses such as tiyyug, tikkunim etc, was based only on telephoning the company and asking if any animal by-products are used. Lab tests were not conducted independently by the rabbis allowing the use of this ink. I was also told by reps here in Australia that no animal by-products are used. Can I rely on this? While I currently only use dyo lanetzach rapidograph ink which has a hechsher,  I'm more worried about the past, I have used the ink for tikkunim based on rabbinic advice that it was OK, and even now I do sell some cheape