"Name and Shame" Idea

I received an email this week from a frustrated sofer who is sick and tired of nothing being done to stop unscrupulous vendors selling below par STa"M. While he acknowledges that it is beyond the capabilities and powers of the Vaad and other rabbinical bodies, his idea was to create a website that would "Name and Shame" unscrupulous vendors. In doing so, anyone caught selling fraudulent STa"M would have their business name and a picture of the item sold.

While I think it's a good idea in theory, and may act as a good deterrent, I see a number of problems arising from this idea:

1) Whoever does it will need to dedicate a lot of time and effort into maintaining and monitoring the site without remuneration.

2) There may be legal / defamation issues to deal with.

3) Where is the line drawn? Do people selling items that are bedieved (as mehudar or otherwise) also make the cut?

If anyone has any ideas or thoughts on this please feel free to comment.


  1. I think we need to put more focus on consumer education

  2. For a whole I've been thinking about a similar thing to this.

    My idea has centered around developing some kind of information guide that includes a list of sofrim and mochrim worldwide. Similar to any product review website.

    In each global location we could provide a list of individuals or businesses and then give review points - such as: they are certified sofrim/ magihim, their products are mehudar/ lechatchila/ bediavad/ Pasul/ unknown, level of service, etc etc
    There are endless options and ways to make it useful for people who have little to now understanding.

    It could be done by several of us getting together and discussing how we could do this. We could explicitly state on the site that the reviews are the consensus of an "alliance" of sofrim who have come together to provide the public with advice and support and a guide to where and how they can buy Stam.
    We could have a page listing the details of each Sofer/magiha who is a part of this process...

    Id be happy to help get something like this going if anyone is interested?

  3. and who is going to determine what is acceptable and what is not? And what if your authority says its not acceptable or not lechatchila while another authority disagrees?

    If you require lechatchila are you going to put the person selling peshutim mehudarim on your name and shame list? What abut those selling machine made retzuos?

    What about those selling kosher lebracha (not lechatchila) mezuzos written by certified sofrim and properly checked to kiruv organizations or to those who refuse or can't pay for a better mezuzah?

    I don't think this is the place for a consensus of sofrim. It's a matter for the expert poskim of stam and participation of any "laymen" (sofrim, dealers, magiim) would be their choice alone.

  4. The other issue that you run into is that Israeli law is against. According to Israeli law, if you make damaging statements about someone, even if they are true, but have damaged their reputation and business you can be sued for 250k shek. If they are no true more.
    Do you really want a secular Israeli court determining what is true and not regarding a halakhic matter? If you can afford to open yourself to that sort of risk, then feel free.

  5. Both posts bring good points.
    I would reply by saying that firstly I stated clearly that there would be many ways to approach it and that it would take some collaboration.

    At the end of the day, even if this may be a matter for expert poskim etc the fact of the matter is that there is no such system, it doesn't look like one is imminent and even if poskim gave their opinions much of that would be unaccessible and unknown to the majority of Jews, particularly outisde Chu"l.

    Think of this as more of a review site. It could be possible to only include sofrim that are "ok" as oppose to shaming those that aren't. At least then people could know where to buy and assume that anywhere else is unknown.
    Just like a kosher food guide.

    Or at least some kind of "alliance of sofrim" where all of us that currently do sell could make a database site referencing our details in each global location so that people have somewhere to go everywhere.

    There are ways that this idea can be done effectively without breaking any laws. And it's necessary. Because even if we would not be able to meticulously define who is within each bracket of "bediavad" "lechatchilah" "mehudar" etc etc, at least we could influence people that otherwise would be buying pasul gamur to buy something that's at least kosher. There are so many people in this category.

    End of the day, someone spending decent bucks on mehudar stuff generally would be going to someone reliable anyway.


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