STaM Alert: Warning of Book Store Sofer Services

21 Adar II 5771
March 27, 2011

certifiedIn the last few weeks we have received a number of stories of individuals who have brought tefillin and mezuzos into local religious article stores or book/seforim stores. These stores “farm out” the work to sofrim who may or may not be certified or trained to examine.

The rabbonim from Mishmeres STaM and Vaad HaRabbonim L’inyanei STaM of Jerusalem report of at least 3 cases in which individuals were told that he parchments were not kosher when in fact the rabbonim said that they we kosher as is, or repairable.

In one case, someone who clearly was unfamiliar with Halacha took a pencil and circled the letter in question and in the process wrote over other letters, thusly rendering the parchment invalid. The letter he circled was found to be kosher. 

Rav Freidlander, of both Mishmeres STaM and the Eida Chareidit said one needs to be careful to buy and service ones tefillin and mezuzos from individuals who are certified to do the work which they are performing or at stores certified to provide such services. One would not dream of buying meat from a butcher without certification or eat the meat from the shochet who is not certified. The same holds true regarding STaM inspections and repairs, and uncertified stores and sofrim fall into such a category.

We have found tefillin improperly sewn and sealed.  Pasul straps put back onto tefillin. Mezuzos marked up with pencil on the side of the margin indicating repairs needed to be made but were never made.

One looking to examine, service or purchase articles of STaM should never assume that the person is certified. Recommendations alone are not enough.  One should ask if he is certified, who certified him if that certification is valid. Ask if he is certified to write or examine. Ask if any of the work is farmed out to others and their certificates of kashrus.
Let the buyer beware — and if you careful then hopefully you will never appear in the collection of horror stories.  

To contact Rabbi Moshe Flumenbaum directly, email

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