WARNING ABOUT ISRAELI SARFUS WHATSAPP GROUPS
Over the past several years I keep getting added onto Sta"m and Safrus whatsapp groups, mostly Israeli in origin. I am currently part of about 25 such groups and while I hardly have time to follow them and rarely post on them, I have found them useful on occasion.
The best example of how they are useful to me would be in an emergency situation such as when I have a sofer in Israel that I usually buy from and I want his work computer checked before he sends it to me - but the regular computer guy is not available - I will post on the groups looking for someone else in his area who does computer checking. Or sometimes my metayeg is busy so I will post that I am looking for a metayeg in a certain area in Israel. For such situations, the Israeli whatsapp groups are extremely helpful.
Occasionally too, If I urgently need something, and I cannot get it from my regular trusted sofrim or suppliers, I may advertise that I am looking for a particular item and will usually get a response and find what I am looking for. While 99 percent of my regular supply come from reputable sofrim (and occasionally dealers) that I know personally and are honest, reputable and ordained - I do sometimes need to turn to online forums and whatsapp groups for emergency items.
Of course, in these groups, you have all types of people. Some are reputable and others are complete sharks, looking to make a quick dollar and have no credibility whatsoever. So just like dealing with any sofer or supplier, one must be very careful. I cannot begin to overstate how careful you need to be. I recently had a shocking experience from someone who originally came across as very honest and knowledgeable in Sta"m, and was recommended by rabbis within the group. He promised me two sifrei Torah at good prices and, after paying him deposits, did not come up with the goods. He also did not return much of the money and ignored my calls for many months. It was the single worst experience I have had in over 20 years in this business.
The thing that bothered me the most was that the administrators of these groups, some who are rabbis and known in the Sta"m world, know that these crooks lurk in their groups and allow them to do so. It is absolutely unacceptable and they must take a stronger stance and not allow people who they know are likely to engage in unscrupulous behaviour to be part of these forums.
I would like to add that if any members of this forum have fallen victim to unscrupulous vendors of Sta"m in Israel through these whatsapp groups or otherwise, and require assistance, I strongly recommend getting in touch Rabbi Eliezer Adam. Rabbi Adam is well known in the safrus world, he is a teacher of Sta"m, English speaking and a member of this forum. He was very helpful in my situation and succeeded in getting my money back. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Wishing everyone much hatzlocha during the bust Ellul period and a ksivah vechasimah Tovah.