More on the current state of computer checking - and more problems...

Around the same time Rabbi Bressman posted his recents concerns surrounding the issue of computer checking, I was receiving emails from friends regarding another online discussion on this issue. This discussion was being held in a closed forum for Chabad Lubavitch Rabbis (Achdus Shluchim Exchange), on exactly the same topic.

While most members of this forum are not affiliated with Chabad, I think it's of great value for everyone to see the types of complaints and comments that were raised. Most Sifrei Torah reaching Chabad Houses (a substantial amount globally) are originally sourced from many of the mainstream sochrim in Bnai Brak, Yerushalayim, Ashdod etc and the issues they raised are the same as the one's I hear from the Litvish, Sefardi, Chaseidish etc rabbis as well.

It started with a post from one rabbi complaining that he bought a new sefer Torah which was computer checked and found to have a spelling mistake. There were many responses and discussion with people sharing their experiences, mostly negative. It is interesting to see it from their perspective. But for those of us in the business of STa"M, it is important to hear them loud and clear.

Because it's a closed forum, I was advised not to cut and paste the discussion with names, etc. But here are  some of the comments:

There were many comments, but these are just some of the experiences being shared:

     [EDITED] wrote:
> > > We bought a Sefer Torah from a very reliable person and it also had a
> > > mistake ארר instead of אשר. I don't know if the computer scan missed it
> > or
> > > it wasn't followed up on, but there is always the possibility for
> error.

     [EDITED] wrote:
 Same here. Had a ST written through a very reliable [edited] sofer.
> > Beautiful ksav. Was computer checked and still found a mistake during
> > kriah, missing a letter.


This one is bad (Although its not really a computer checking issue):

    [EDITED] wrote:
Same here.
A whole Yeriah was missing!!!

And this is pretty bad too:

     [EDITED] wrote:
> > > Over the past few years i have twice bought a new sefer torah.
> > > Both times I was
> > > assured that it was computer checked twice...
> > > Both times I paid kesef
> > > molei...
> > > Both times I bought by different well known [edited] sochrim...
> > > Both
> > > times they were written by different [edited] sofrim...
> > > Both times we
> > > discovered mistakes of chasir veyatir, (the last time it was missing an
> > > entire
> > > line!)
> > > my suggestion? if you buy or have bought a new sefer torah, demand a
> copy of
> > > the computer report, and double check each mistake found by the
> computer,
> > > to
> > > confirm it was actually corrected!

     [Edited] wrote:
Wow! This is scary stuff!

This one was written by someone from Australia. I include it not because he quotes me but because for me this has worked and brought me peace of mind:

    [Edited] wrote:
> > >I was‎ talking about his to Rabbi Eli Gutnick
> > who sells a lot of sforim, he said many of the private computer checkers who use the generic Tor or Duk software are unreliable,
> > > he always does an additional check at Mishmeres Stam PRIOR TO SALE, the software is better and the guys checking are more responsible.
> > Many of the seforim he deals with ALREADY computer checked
> > > are found to have errors at Mishmeres Stam.
> >The mishmeres stam computer check
> > > costs about $300 and can be done in a day.
> >It makes sense for anyone spending tens of thousands of dollars to pay a fraction extra to avoid the embarrassment and headache of mistakes.

This written in defense of the issue:

[Edited] wrote:
    > > Have you ever bought a car and drove off the lot and a block away from
> > dealer the engine light goes on??
> >
> > It happens
> >
> > The question is what warranty you have...

Finally this one sums it up:

   [EDITED] wrote:
> > > the issue is not if the sofer fixes that letter, that is a joke fixing
> > one
> > > letter takes a few minutes and would be a very small charge. the issue
> is
> > > that they say they are RELIABLE sofrim and checked it and computer
> > checked
> > > it PROPERLY! if it is checked properly any choser and yatir should be
> > > picked up. in the meantime we are reading for many years with a sefer
> > torah
> > > that is really possul!

I don't know what else to say but there, but comments are truly welcome.

Gut Shabbos


  1. Dear R' Eli,

    While ask of these points are completely valid, I would like to raise what I see too be the REAL issue. Namely: why are Sta"m coming to computer checks with mistakes!!!??? This is where the sad fact lies!

    Take, for example, a parsha in tfillin. According to the A"R, every single time err write Sheim Hashem we need to check from THE TOP OF THE PARSHA! Then, before writing the next Parsha, the Parsha must be checked AGAIN! And the wording the A"R uses is "paamayim veshalosh"!


    For centuries there was no computer checking. The devices Chaza"l put in place are certainly sufficient. AND WE ARE NOT EVEN LIVING UP TO THAT!

    I can tell you: it happened to me a few times that I "checked" my parshiyos Baal peh and missed mistakes as a result. I note only check - each and every time - from a ksav, line by line!

    The problem is: folks are liking to buy cheap Sta'm. So there's an entire market for speed writers, poor checking etc. Etc. Etc. That is the ONLY way for it to be cheap.

    This is what I think is truly at the heart of the matter... For a Sofer to outsource the responsibility of checking -any checking- to the Socher is a crime! Whenever I seek to Sochrim I tell them clearly "this is 100 percent ready to sell. No exceptions". It's their choice to computer check or whatever. But the whole notion of computer check, outsourcing jobs to the socher etc, is tragically what's at the heart of the matter.

  2. Not that it makes a difference, but modern Sofrim suffer from the distractions that "progress" has to offer. Radios, recordings, phones ... all serve to derail concentration, again and again and again ... These factors did not exist many years ago. Also, most of the population did not live in large cities but in small or tiny villages, so "people interruption" was a fraction of that of modern times. Even then and even there, Kesses Hasofer advises the Sofer to have a separate Bayis (room? House?) where he can write - undisturbed!

  3. I was just in New York and met the Shliach who started the whole discussion about computer checking. He contacted the Socher who he bought the sefer from who offered to pay for the Sefer to be returned to him and fixed.
    When he brought the Sefer back it transpired that it was never computer checked in the first place. The Socher (who has a good name and is considered reliable) told him that he had understood from the Sofer that it was computer checked! He apologised for the mistake, computer checked it and fixed the mistakes.
    I am quite suprised that any Socher would accept a Sefer without asking for a copy of the CD and printout.

    1. Agreed.

      It just always ends up going back to the basic principle, which is sadly, not to trust anybody. If you want it done properly, do it yourself.

      This includes checking yourself anything you sell, putting the parshiyos into the batim yourself or in house (so you know they fit properly and are not mixed up with others), reviewing the computer duch (even from Mishmeres Sta"m) to ensure every item was repaired, etc etc etc

    2. I agree with Eli and agree that the socher should receive and look over the results. However, why should you be surprised that the socher trusted the sofer? Did he trust him to write lishma? To not do chok tochos? So why not believe him when he thought he understood it was computer checked.
      In any case, it's foolish and negligent to sell a sefer with 1 computer check, the 2nd one being done after all tikkunim are complete. At the very least, this 2nd check should be done by or under someone that the socher trusts.
      While on the topic, it's critical to carefully choose who manually checks sifrei Torah as well. There are numerous magiim checking for $1 (and change) an amud. You get what you pay for. At the very best, after 2 such hagaos and computer checks you need to pray that everything me'akev was found. Forget about them checking for it to be lechatchila or mehudar. Do the checking right and charge the customer accordingly or it will eventually come back to bite you in this world and the next.


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