Showing posts from August, 2013

Ignorance of Halachos of Safrus

This is not an easy post to write, but it is one that I have been thinking about for a very long time. I respectfully submit my opinion, and would like to make it clear that I am not targeting anyone or any organization with this post, and I hope no one takes it personally. There are sofrim, including well meaning ones, who sometimes appear to be ignorant of some of the basic halachos of writing STA"M. Even here in this forum, without mentioning any specific cases, I occasionally notice posts or comments that indicate the author's ignorance of very basic halachos. I am not sure exactly what the source of the problem is, but I think the solution is simply that sofrim need to learn the Kesses Hasofer (including the Lishkas Hasofer, of course), and review it again and again. Additionally, I think that in many cases, learning other seforim on writing STA"M may take away from the knowledge of the halachos, as people seem to get confused or distracted from the basic halac

Global Safrus

Had an interesting case this week. An American Yeshivah bochur learning in Melbourne brought me his tefillin to check. I saw that the yudim looked a little dubious - lacking a guf. In some cases it was worse than others - see pic below. I told him that many of the yudin (without guf) are problematic. Then he told me that he had it checked last year, in Canada, by a sofer who told him the same thing. As it turns out the sofer in Canada is a member of this forum. So I gave the customer the deatails of the sofer to find out what he paskened. It turned out the sofer asked a few poskim in Israel and came to the conclusion that the yudim were kosher. I felt that it may be a worthwhile exercise to fix the yudin, at least the worst ones, since based on the psak the Canadian sofer received, there would not be a shaila of lo kesidran - so why not try and improve the situation. So now my questions are: This guy is a very serious bochur and wants his tefillin to be betachlis hahidur. Ev

beginning of the line (5th and 6th line from the bottom)

Do you guys come across this often that the sofer started the line with the wrong word? is there ever an instance that it is kasher, or it it 100% passul?

Practical info for writing a Sefer Torah

Until now I only wrote Mezuzot and Megillos, but I will ii"H soon start writing a Sefer Torah for personal use. I thought the fellow members could help me with some practical considerations. 1) I need the best tikun. From what I gather, R' Chernobyl from BB has the best one - is this true? The shops in Mea Shearim I went to were not really interested in supplying any kind of tikkun for sefer torah. 2) Over the years I've come across the halachic discussions in regards to the different mesoras of  spellings (e.g. pezuei daka) and spacing (e,g, shirat hayam) in theory. Today do we all use exactly the same spellings and spacings in stam? Is this tikkun's spellings approved by all gedolim? 3) Does this tikkun shows when the letters should be done it differently (e.g. Vav Ketia) or I have to realize it myself? 4) Can I start sowing the yerios together as I write or must I necessarily sow all together only in the end? 5) I once heard ideally there's an inyan to wr

lightweight atzei chayim - does it exist?

lightweight atzei chayim - does it exist? Does anybody know anything about atzei chayim made out of a special material? Light, but still strong? It would be useful for heavy sifrei Torah. Thanks

Oisios Gedoles and Katanos

In Keses HaSofer Siman 16 Sif 4 he brings the din of oisios gedoles and katanos that we are nohag to write in a Sefer Torah. He says that this is only "l'mitzvah" and if one doesn't make the proper letters "big" or "small" relative to the others that it isn't pasul. This is seemingly all in a situation where one must read from this Sefer Torah. What about after that situation passes and one now knows that the letters weren't written according to the minhag or mesorah, must one go back now and fix them? Is there any source for this?

Dodgy mezuzot

Here's an interesting case. I was not machshir this mezuza for a few reasons. In this mezuza you have instances of a vav with the same dimensions, in some locations (ואספת, ושמתם) it's a vav and in others it's more of a nun (יורה). Its hard to tell because in the word יורה for instance - is the hey long or is the reish short? We know that bediavad the regel of a reish can be kosher if its the size of a regel yud. But, the yud here is even shorter than the reish. Without the hey, the vav would be a clear nun.  But if we call the vav a vav based on the height of most of the rest of the line, then the nun of פן should be a zayin even though normally פן is a unique case due to the height of the peh. There are similar instances with other letters, eg kafim etc Normally we look at both dimensions of a letter and the surrounding ktav. In this case the surrounding ktav changes drastically between lines and even words.


The left head of the above TZADEs appear like a kav peshuta.  There are many poskim who invalidate and others who are matir.  Each case needs to be independently assessed, and so this is a she'elat Hakham. The question here is if the small Tzavits are considered significant enough for us to correct the letter by adding a clear head, or if it should be outright invalidated.  Your insight is appreciated.

Common Mezuzah Questions

I find that often people ask this question on whether such an "entry way" needs a mezuzah or not. From what I see here there is no mashkof what so ever as well there is just a regular plan wall on the other side opposite this, not even something protruding out. Is there any reason to yes put a mezuzah here (any shita or chumrah?) As well if the mezuzah has already been put up should one leave it up or may it be taken down? I know in the past R' Shammai always says (pashut) that there is no need for a mezuzah in such a case. The other question that was asked was this one: The same idea, no mezuzah on the other side (just a plain wall), and not mashkof. Even if there would be some sort of mezuzah on the other side, still there is no mashkof.

Quill knives and how to sharpen one

The quill knives that are available nowadays for the most part are in fact Sloyd knives, or bench knives intended for woodworking and whittling that have been reground and presented as quill knives.   This selection of high quality knives is produced by Lee Valley.  Notice that model E is the exact same knife, albeit reshaped, as is sold by John Neal Books as a quill knife.  In its natural state it retails for about $18, reground $70. Here are two others that are made by Pinewood Forge.  With a moderate amount of grinding these make extraordinarily good knives for cutting quills.  This is the quill knife available from for 125 Euros plus international shipping, again looking suspiciously like a spear-point whittling knife available in the US for $25-30. What sets a quill knife apart from a carving knife is not the quality of the steel, or the shape of the handle, but the way the blade is reshaped.  Given this fact, if you're an enterprisi

Elul. Is it worth it??

11 months of the year I wish I had more work.  Comes Elul and I wish I had less work or another sofer to help me. I think many Chabad sofrim feel the same. The prevalent custom in Chabad is to check  tefillin and mezuzos in Elul (while its brought down  in kitzur, Chabad are the most vigilant about this custom).   So the question it really such a great idea?  I remember a sofer in New York bragging that he gets so busy in Elul he checks 12 sets of parshiyos an hour. That's one every five minutes. ( I assume he does not unassembled and reassemble them himself). For a guy who's personal best is 6 pairs of tefillin and 40 mezuzos in one day, I was horrified when I heard that. The fact is that everything is done extra fast during Elul and this means the chances are that mistakes will be made and vital issues overlooked. I think that in Chabad communities, the volume is up to 10 times of that of the normal year. During the year I get about 4-5 pairs of tefillin  to check

Looking for a colmus (pen) sharpener

I was wondering if anyone have heard of the colmus (pen) sharpener, I saw one a couple days ago on a website I cant seem to find again. Any info is much appreciated.

Does anyone recognize this Ksav?

The image below comes from a heavily water damaged half-sefer someone gave me last night. The section I have runs rougly from Parsahat Shmini until the end and is written in 60 lines without vavei ha'amudim which leads me to say German but I didn't think Yekkes wrote like this.

Ashkanazi reading from Sephardi Sefer Torah

I know there are a number of Achronim that speak about this issue (and permit) of Ashkanazi minyan may use a Sephardi Sefer Torah to lein from. Does someone have the list of poskim and exact mareh makomos for those that speak about this?
one little mistake someone showed it to me it took me some time to find it