A couple of months ago we had a discussion how new techniques help sofrim write a Torah in 6-8 weeks. A very interesting discussion about a metayeg that was not mekadesh a shem took place.

As we have many backyard minyanim, many people want the cheapest kosher lechatchila Torah.
Guiding somebody to buy a Torah is very complex,  I will explain the pitfalls of the lesser expensive and often even the expensive Torahs.

KSAV KABALA: If you are looking for a ready Torah or even half ready, you probably will be dealing with a socher.
Many if not most sochrim even erliche, will deal with sofrim that:(worst first)
Have no kabala, and are not planning to have kabala
Are planing to "take out" kabala (the plan makes the socher feel good)
Have a silly hamlatza that they are erlich
Passed written test but not oral test
Kabala was received many years ago and they never reviewed the halachos.
If a metayeg was used 90 percent will be first category.
I hope I do not need to explain on this forum why a kabala is needed.

FACT: you will be shocked that although socher says sofer has a kabala when you ask for a copy you will get the runaround. Unfortunately by the time you find out the bitter truth you will have showed the sample and received a commitment, deposit, or full payment. Breaking a sale is not easy and often impossible.

COMPUTER CHECK: never trustworthy just do another check -if you don't have tor just scan and send to Mishmeres Sta"m. if it passed one computer- 60 percent will have a mistake. If it passed 2 computer checks only 10 percent will have a mistake, however you will find some psul or other.
FACT: When you try to inquire how a computer checked torah is posul you will get :
metaken didnt fix
this yeria didnt pass
the hard drive got wiped out
or some creative explanation.

Hagah: We all know this is the toughest part, however I must first explain the SOFER's part before we can look at the MAGIA.

SOFER: We expect a sofer to be knowledgable in "ALL" the halachot and  facts pertaining to sefer Torah, aside from forming the letters.
KLAF: choosing with hechsher ,with proper gilyonos, exactly same size so sirtut from yerios line up.
SIRTUT: in place of mechika, setting up shiras hayam and shiras hazinu properly (how many sofrim glanced at hilchos S"T in Yoreh Deah)
KIDUSH LESHEM KEDUSHAS S"T (wht is he listening to when he is tracing on a light table)
NICHTAV BEPSUL (according to m"b in s"t must scratch all written after negia.
OSIOS RABASI: many many dont know how to do it and if letter is totally above sirtut its posul
PARSHA:space needed lechatchila between parshios pesuca and stuma.

If sofer does not know what he is doing then even if he is tracing Menachems tikun he will make terrible flaws.

FORMING OF OSIOS:  My opinion is VAAD MISHMERERS STa"M made a TERRIBLE MISTAKE giving kabala to sofrim that know the halachos without making sure the ksav is written properly. short vavs long zayins square samechs and broken tagim are the norm even by better sofrim
in Israel.

Sofrim no more need to know the halachos all they need is a plastic kulmus a tracing table and a blasting radio or for the erliche a shiur torah. The sofer will trace approximately and the METAKEN will erase scratch and fix it up so it can pass the computer check.
FACT: If you would see what a yeria looks like after the sofer finished before the metaken started you will be shocked.
Most metaknim Don't have Kabala those that do still have many apprentices that have no idea what kedushas stam is. They erase shaimos not realizing that its a sheim, they patch up holes not knowing that care must be taken not to do half letter on matlis and much more.
Often the  yeria goes back to the sofer to fill in the blanks and often the young apprentice just fills in the blanks.

HAGA:  First take a guess how much they receive to do haga for a full Torah.  it shocking- price starts at 1500 SHEKEL and goes up to 2800 SHEKEL, now you wouldn't be mavir sedra for this amount.
 The sofer thinks he has zero achrayus since its going to haga, he doesn't even need to mark where he made a negia. The poor MAGIA does his best to mark up the big mistakes. he feels great he found the thick negios and some missing tagim. Many Torah's have passed haga five times and the sixth time psulim were still found.
FACT: if sofer was not careful it is impossible for MAGIA to find and correct all mistakes.

never mind that magia won't look at, psuchos, nekudos, osios gedolos etc.


Following these precautions might make it a bit easier.
Let the socher sofer know beforehand -if possible in writing that you are makpid on the following and he will be penalized monetarily if any of these conditions are not met.

Sofer and Metayeg must have Kabala from Rav or vaad specializing in tests for safrus, that states sofer and metayeg learned and passed test. A copy must be presented.
Sofer must take responsibility  by writing a letter that Torah is Kosher when complete.
Metaken must have kabala or rabbinical supervision.
Magia must have Kabala and be ready to write and sign a letter that torah is kosher when complete.
A computer report with less than 10 mistakes must be presented. make sure the mistakes were corrected & that the report is a full report for all columns.
FACT: A Torah that has a mistake that may be fixed is still posul.




  1. Very good post. Some excellent points.

    (I should point out however that the Israeli poskim aren't as fazed by a slightly longer zayin as the ones in New York. I guess every place has it's chumros....)

  2. I don't have time at the moment to read through this, but look forward to doing so soon. You mentionied a metayeg being mekadesh Hashem. Not all metaygim do so. The question is does it affect the hidur of the ksav. Rav Mualem told me that it's not morid in hidur. I recall a metayeg told me he asked a posek (not one with particular expertise in Stam) who agreed yet another mot'z in Stam told me that it does affect the hiddur.
    There's also the question of the not lishma tagim going into and partially covering the actual heads of the Shaimos.
    Here's a number of sources I noted at the time on the subject when I did a little research into tiyug lishma:
    Mikdash Me’at 274:2, Keses Hasofer (?) , Mishnah Brurah 32:62 and 67 and Biur Halachah “v’enah nikeres”, Mishnah Brurah 39 Biur Halachah “bchol tikun asiasam”, Shu”t Shevet Halevi 1:10 and 10:7, Mitzvas Hayom page 122 Halachah Brurah chelek 3 36:14, Mishnas Hasofer siman 1:3 Biur Hasofer “tikun Asiasam” and siman 4:1 Biur Hasofer “lishma”, Sheilas Moshe pages 362-366. Harav Moshe Shaul Klein (Mibeis Levi 15 pages 117-123, Yalkut Kisrei Osios chelek 2 pages 371-373, Hadar Mezuzah pages 59-62 and Yerios Shlomo chelek 1 14:11. Harav Shlomo Mualem is of the opinion that the hiddur of the writing is not affected when the non lishma tagin cover part of the actual letter that was written lishma, however, the Shevet Halevi and Harav Moshe Shaul Klein are of the opinion that the hiddur is affected.

  3. We had that gevaldige discussion between you and Rabbi Wiener.
    This post is about how many sforim arrive Kosher from Israel and where the pitfalls are.

  4. Sorry. I forgot about that discussion here. I thought you meant you had an in person discussion.

  5. Ah! The Hegalig Beis Hastam!

    Excellent points as always. I'd like to add that a good amount of consumers, for whatever reason, prefer to buy their STaM in Israel. (At least that's the case in the greater Los Angeles area over here) The blind trust in a yid with a "beard" and "looks like a Rabbi" always scares anyone who knows the complex system. One of the many reasons why I learned Safrut... to make sure people know what they are dealing with!

    1. Besides those who are doing so bc they want to support Israel (even though the vast majority of Stam sold worldwide is sourced in Israel) I suspect many are doing so in the expectation of a better price by cutting out (most of) the middlemen.

  6. When you try to inquire how a computer checked torah is posul you will get:
    *When the sofer or metaken made the correction, he made a new mistake.
    *As sefarim are sometimes computer checked in batches sometimes a yeria is left out and doesn't go through 2 computer exams
    *We're human. While the problem was likely found and recorded, the one reviewing the results didn't see it. This is one of the reasons why 2 exams are done and depending on the results of the 2nd exam, a 3rd exam may be called for.

    KLAF: exactly same size so sirtut from yerios line up.
    The only practical way to do this is when a sofer finishes a yeria he should make sure the following yeria lines up with it.

    NICHTAV BEPSUL (according to m"b (Biur Halachah in name of the Gra and Shaar Ephraim?) in s"t *lechatchila* must scratch all written after negia.
    It's worthwhile seeing what Rav Mualem writes on the matter.

    OSIOS RABASI: many many dont know how to do it and if letter is totally above sirtut its posul
    Do you mean the entire *rosh* of the letter above the sirtut?

    For those writing with a synthetic kulmus, stainless steel followed by ceramic are the most popular these days. Most Sephardi sofrim write with synthetic and by Ashkenazi sofrim it's becoming more popular among newer sofrim and the less Heimish (for lack of a better word) sofrim. We may have already discussed here the use of the various synthetic kulmusim.

    Even if a sofer gives to a metaken, who he must ensure is qualified, along the way he needs to mark anything that he thinks and knows will need to be fixed and not just leave it for the computer and magia to find.
    Generally the metaken does a much better erasing job, meaning a nicer appearance and less holes. This also allows the sofer to focus on what he's good at, writing. I don't see an issue if a qualified metaken also fixes what the magia has marked.


  7. Hagaah- You make good points. Actually, there are those taking as low as 1100NIS to check a Torah.

    Frankly, I'd not consider anything less than 4000NIS to do a hagaah on a medukdak ksav. Many of the cheaper Torahs are much more difficult to check and could take 50-100% longer and the price should be in accordance.

    I'd also only work by the hour.

    It's always a catch 22. The sochrim are trying to offer lower priced Stam and in order to do so they need to keep costs down. If they pay for 2 hagaos and pay 50-100% more per hagaah their selling price would be less attractive and less competitive with others who continue to follow the norm of including 1 cheap hagaah.

    These lower end hagaos on sifrei Torah are only to look for psulim and even then how can you expect someone to find everything when working so fast and for so little? Forget about the bedieveds or choser hidur!

    The seller of a sefer Torah not only needs to ensure he's selling a kosher Torah but that it meets the standard expected for it based on the ksav and cost. It's not at all uncommon to see very nice and fairly expensive sifrei Torah (being sold in the 40's and even well into the 50's that blatantly lack hiddur. Of course it all starts with the sofer and then the socher may not know the halachos well or may not care and the magia isn't asked or paid to do more than the minimum.

    The industry standard among most sochrim is to provide one manual hagaah, which is ridiculous. Even if the 1 hagaah was very thorough (paid well/by the hour and hired to ensure the sefer met a specific level of kashrus) another hagaah is very much needed. (This is discussed in the Kol Yaakov and is obvious to anyone with experience in the field.)


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