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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Can I fix an ugly peh?

I took a long break from writing and only started again last week. In the picture below the peh in the word v'eyfer came out quite ugly.


The question is: Is it kosher and therefore I can clean it up by removing some of the ink?

Note that although it is hard to see in the picture, the internal bet has a long tail that goes into the right side:


This leads me to another question: If you haven't written for a while, what you you usually do for "warm-ups"? Write the whole aleph-bet?

14 comments:

  1. There is definitely a tzurah of pay on it so its ok to scrape it out a little.

    for warm up- write a megillah!

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  2. I would always advise regularly showing an experienced sofer your writing for feedback - especially if you haven't been writing for long. I've seen several examples of (1) either people not learning initially by a expert and thus making serious but obvious mistakes in writing and (2) people after having not writing for a while can incorporate "silly" errors into their writing that they may just not realise.

    Is there a reason you don't write with tagim?

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    Replies
    1. Ari, a lot of israeli spfrim give their work to a metayeg to make the tagin afterwards

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    2. I just didn't get to the tagim yet. Once I finish the yeriah I'll do all the tagim.

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  3. Yeh, I've heard about that and read about it in several halachic references.

    I've always wondered, though - is that really a lechatchilah way of doing things? The letters are only complete lechatchilah with their tagim (I know there can be different p'sakim for Ashkenazim/Sefardim - some are even posel without tagim) and leaving them out to me says a bit that we want to write as much as quickly as possible, irrespective of quality or kedusha, for the sole purpose of making more money. It just doesn't sit well with me. Of course there's nothing wrong with making money - but I think there's a line of lechatchilah conduct that shouldn't be crossed. Unless I'm missing something. Perhaps it's a serious matter of parnassah for the metayagim - I just don't know...

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    Replies
    1. I totally agree with what Ari writes. A Sofer should concentrate on making a product of better quality, not a greater quantity.
      But, for the sfardim if is somehow understood from the Kol Yaacov that the taggim are done after the writing:
      ואח"כ יתייגם שעטנ"ז ג"ץ

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    2. In a Sefer Torah or Megillah, there is no halakhic difference whatsoever when you write the Tagim. In Tefillin and Mezuzos there is a hiddur to write the Tagim immediately upon writing the the letter.

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    3. for basic / non mehudar stam, I allow metayeg. Mehudar stam I like the tagin to be toch kedai since some opinioms say tagin have to be kesidran

      For sefer torah with metayeg its less of an issue since no kesidran. I would sell a sefer with tagin by metayeg as 100% mehudar

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  4. I should probably clarify what I meant. My intention wasn't to say that the STa"M is not lechatchila or mehudar. I agree that in the end it probably is.

    I was talking about the conduct of the Sofer, which sometimes can be bediavad conduct even if it doesn't affect the status of the finished product. STa"M is a kadosh profession and I personally find it uncomfortable for it to be written in an "incomplete" manner for the sake of speed. I'm not saying this has halachic ramifications necessarily, but to me it casts a particular impression over the specific enterprise, which I'm not in favour of.

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    1. If a Sofer did not go to the Mikvah before writing STaM, some might consider that "bediavad conduct" and decline to purchase the resultant STaM, even though that does not affect the halakhic status of the STaM. This case is not analogous. The Sofer did not engage in any behavior that is even remotely considered unideal. Every Sofer has the right to write in the way he finds most efficient. Safrus is a holy profession, but is a profession nonetheless.

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  5. "If a Sofer did not go to the Mikvah before writing STaM, some might consider that "bediavad conduct""
    True, some might. If that's their philosophy who am I to judge?

    "The Sofer did not engage in any behavior that is even remotely considered unideal."
    That's your opinion. It is also a very strong statement, to have been said with such uncompromising authority.

    My posts were, similarly, my opinion. I explicitly stated that it probably made no significant halachic difference lema'aseh, but that even though that was the case I still find it inappropriate. It seems as though I am not being clear in explaining this position.

    People today are being very quick to decide for themselves how to keep halacha and how to interpret halacha with little concern for the mesorah and authority of gedolei yisrael.

    This particular issue as I see it has two main aspects.

    (1) Does the personal/professional conduct of the Sofer matter or do we not care how he does what he does, as long as at the end of the day he produces a kosher product?

    (2) If the answer is the former, then the second question is what conduct is considered proper/advisable/inappropriate/unprofessional etc.

    I think it's obvious that the answer to (1) is that conduct matters. The Mishna Berura writes in the name of the Levush:
    ע"ז ומן הראוי למי שיש כח בידו למנות כותבי תפילין מהוגנים אנשי אמת שונאי בצע בעלי תורה יראי א-לקים וחרדים על דברו בכל עיר כמו שממנים שוחטים ובודקים שלא יאמינו לכל הסופרים שאין כוונתם אלא להרויח ממון
    and in the name of Baruch Sheamar:
    יכתוב אותיות טובים ותמימות ולא שבורות ובמתון ובכוונה גדולה ולא ימהר אדם בכתיבתה כדי להרויח ממון הרבה כי אותו ריוח ילך לאיבוד ולדיראון ויפסיד נשמתו כי הוא מחטיא את הרבים

    There are many other examples to this effect in most halachic sources that deal with hilchot STa"M.

    This leads to point (2).

    Now, it's possible to argue that the only reason for the above statements is so that we maintain Sofrim who are knowlegable and y'rei shamayim so that they won't make mistakes or mislead or cheat people. That would lead to the conclusion that one who does embody these attributes would be allowed to try write as fast as possible or make things easier. I'm not disputing this. The statement "Every Sofer has the right to write in the way he finds most efficient." I think is true for the most part. It's true that the poskim are mainly combatting people who intentionally do the wrong thing and deceive.

    But - in qualifying this point, personally, there are certain things that make me uncomfortable. Even if a particular person is y'rei shamayim and honest, there are many that aren't. How does the tzibur know that this person who takes short cuts is ok and that this person isn't? An even if someone starts out honest, it is very easy to get carried away with making more money and starting to make compromises that do cause issues.

    These are parts of the reasons the gedolim formulated these guidelines of proper middot and conduct for someone engaged in melechet hakodesh. How many examples worldwide, not only in STa"M but also areas like kashrut, have we recently seen people who have been thought trustworthy by entire communities, to have been cheating and doing the wrong thing? Did they start this way? Maybe. I don't know.

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  6. Of course, if someone has solid halachic support for what they do (eg in cases of going to mikveh, or like Shlomo brought from the Kol Yaaokv, etc) then that's a very different story. But I could sum up my views in this post with two points.
    (A) The gedolim have made guidelines for a reason and we have a mesorah of halachic development that cannot be contravened by individual halachic independence or personal convenience.
    (B) Conduct matters. Middot matter. The technical validity of the final product is not always the only consideration.

    The Mishmeret STa"M hasmacha for ketiva includes a reshut beit din which ends with the following:
    שפיר קדמנא לתת לו רשות בי״ד וכתב קבלה ע״מ שיוכל להתעסק במלאכת הקודש כאחד הסופרים המאושרים בישראל.
    בתנאים דלהלן:
    ...ג) להקפיד על התנהגותו שתתאים לקדושת מקצועו.

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    1. I completely agree that a Sofer should engage in proper conduct and not take shortcuts that could cause problems. But you seem to want to be gozer against all things that you view as shortcuts. And what this has to do with "being very quick to decide for themselves how to keep halacha and how to interpret halacha with little concern for the mesorah and authority of gedolei yisrael" I have no idea. You seem to have decided on your own that making Tagin after writing is somehow poor conduct although this has no basis in Halacha whatsoever.

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  7. Firstly, who's being gozer anything? How many times do I have to emphasize that this is a personal opinion about something that makes ME uncomfortable. It's really not that difficult to understand.

    The reasoning is not that difficult to understand either. It's made up of two very easy principles.

    1) There are opinions that pasel Stam without tagim and require tagim to be written kesidran (in tefillin and mezuzot). Even those that don't hold this way, most of them hold that Stam without tagim is bediavad. This illustrates that to some degree the letters are not fully "complete" without tagim. Whatever this degree might be.

    2) I feel cautious in general about shortcuts that are designed purely to write faster and earn more money. Generally, these shortcuts are ok. Not always.

    So to put them together - not very hard to do - I PERSONALLY feel uneasy about sofrim that do not write fully complete items of Kedusha for the sole purpose of making more money.

    Again, to emphasize for those that have trouble understanding: this is a personal opinion and feeling. I'm not a posek nor am I being "gozer" anything on anyone.

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