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 cheaper mezuzos, tefillin and even sifrei torah that have had rapidograph tagin etc made with Staedtler "Paper 745" rapidograph ink. I cant imagine anyone who sells Sta"m that has not sold a cheaper item esp a sefer Torah with tagin made by a metayeg with such ink.


  1. I have seen many sofrim use SAKURA PIGMA I think based on same thing that they called company

  2. Bepashtus when dealing with Non Jewish representatives we can rely on the rule of "Mesiach Lefi Tumo". So as long as one does not explain to the representative that it is a problem for them to have animal by-products it should be fine.

  3. R. Eli, I find this very interesting as I have never used a rapidograph for Sofrut activity, largely on the grounds that use of a metal pen is considered by some as tantamount to engraving - does that not factor in any decisions as well as ink issues?

    Also as a designer I used to find that rapidograph ink was much more matt and they blocked easily - how would STaM ink not block it even more? Do you have to dilute the d'yo lanetsach you use?

    Also, Adam Eliezer of Machon Melechet Shamayim brings five reasons from Biur Hasofer as to why this and general use of any standard inks ‘from the marketplace’ should not be used: 1) that in the first instance the ink should only be made from things that grow on trees (Rama Yoreh De’ah, Kol Haremez 4:1 and Kiryat Sefer
    2) The ink should be made lishmah
    3) that perhaps there is something forbidden in the shop
    bought ink that would not be permitted in the mouth - one does
    not really know its ingredients; 4) that the ink should be made by boiling (Rambam); and 5) that perhaps the ink won’t be really black on the body of the k’laf and won’t last long. Shop bought ink changes colour much more quickly that STaM ink (Melechet Shamayim). Biur Hasofer says that if you do wish to use a metal pen to write small things like the kots of the yud one should still write with scribal ink.

    1. 99% of magihim I know, from all backgrounds, use a rapidograph for tikkunim. All Major Poskim in stam today allow it. Very few magihim are makpid not to use it. Regarding the reasons cited by Adam Eliezer, Many put a drop of regular stam ink in the cartridge with the rapidograph ink, for whatever that is worth.

      Definitely, the use of Dyo Lonetzach rapidograph ink would be acceptable according to the Biur Hasofer.

      Out of respect for the minority opinion that says rapidograph use is problematic, I personally only use it for tikunim which are only kedai lehader uledakdek, such as to strengthen a tag or make a rosh more bolet. I do not use it to rectify a psul, for example to repair a nifsak. For that I would only use a feather and regular ink. Most people say this is over the top, but out of respect for the minority opinion I have adopted this system.

      Furthermore, even the few Poskim who do not allow the rapidograph for tikkunim, such as Rav Mordechai Eliyahu Z'L, allowed it for tagin by a metayeg. And the few sofrim who I know that are makpid not to use it for various reasons, sell Sta"m with rapidographed tagin.

  4. Over the years I talked to a huge number of company reps and employees. I found that:

    a) Those who are not directly involved with the chemical ingredients rarely know what the ingredients are. If the ingredients are not published, then, the marketing/administrative workers too don't know what they are.

    b) Companies know that there is a general resistance in the market to animal ingredients either for religious reasons, or for Vegan reasons. Therefore, they try to please you. The rule of "goy messiach lefi tumo" does not apply when the goy knows what you want to hear.

    c) I had marketing/administrative people tell me what they believed I want to hear. Then, when I talked to a chemist involved with the product he told me the opposite.

    d) I had people tell me what they believed I want to hear. Then, when I asked for it in writing on a company letterhead, they invented some lame excuse why they cannot give it in writing. A rep in Israel for a German-made rapidograph ink sent me an email in which he said that he believed the ink has no animal ingredients, but, he cannot officially certify it because the ingredients are a trade secret. (If they are a trade secret, then, how did he know what they are or are not?)

    To circumvent all these issues, I use a different approach. I say that we have a customer who wants to have an animal ingredient for religious reasons. Does your product have an animal ingredient? If not, could you recommend an animal ingredient that we can add and is compatible with your product?

    Only if they say something like "Sorry, we don't use animal ingredients", I know that I found what I wanted.

    1. The approach I describe above has to be continued with a second step. Many don't know that certain ingredients can come from animals. So I ask specifically if the product contains shellac, glycerine, glycerol (another name for glycerine), gelatin, proteins, glycerides, - ingredients commonly found in inks.

  5. Without going into too many details into what R' Shammai said (at the moment.) He l'maseh said one could rely on what the person tells you.

    1. Thanks! When you have time please post more details...

    2. I have seen A Sofer Muvhak use the Sakura Pigma pens at least 20 years ago. I have personally contacted the company a while ago, and I asked them 3 questions:
      #1 - Do the black pens have any animal derived ingredients whatsoever?
      #2 - Do they have any tree/wood derived ingredients whatsoever?
      #3 - Do they undergo any cooking/heating process whatsoever?
      The answers were:
      #1 – “no”.
      #2 – “no – we don’t believe so”.
      #3 – “that information is not disclosed to us, as it is considered a trade secret”.
      But after pondering this subject, it seems to me - and please correct me if I'm wrong - that in any case there isn't really a problem. Because no one is considering writing a whole letter with such a pen. Wer'e talking about fixing Tagin, or at most fixing Nifsakim. In any case, the letter is still almost entirely written with all 5 conditions which the Biur Hasofer brings.

    3. If you have a copy of Yeriat Shlomo put out by Yad Rafael he writes there in chapter three footnote seven a rather long Teshuva about this, however the part most related to our subject is:
      ואפילו אם לא ירצו לגלות בחברה את סודות הדיו רק שיודיו ויאשרו שאין בזה שום דבר מן החי ומן ענבים די בזה

  6. Are there many sofrim who write full mezuzos and the like with rapidographs?

    1. no one writes with rapidograph...its used only for tikunim and tagin


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