Instant Sofer Courses

25 Sivan 5711
June 27, 2011
scribe-photoThere have been a number of signs luring Avreichim who are looking for an additional source of income, offering courses which claim they will train students to become a certified and qualified sofer, who will be able to sell mezuzoth tefillin and articles of STaM, in a short period of time.

It would appear that the midterm break (bein hazmanim ) is the perfect opportunity for taking courses to learn how to become a sofer. This would be great if the information, halachot and traditions which are essential components of being a sofer could be inculcated during the allotted time frame, but this is not the case.

Unfortunately many of those who teach these courses promise a great deal but in actuality, delivery leaves much to be desired. The only ones who are guaranteed benefit from such a course are those who run the course, as it is impossible to study comprehend and master all the materials, including the technical aspects required to become a certified sofer.

In order to become a certified sofer one must study extremely complex materials. These materials include: Tor Beis Yosef, Shulhan Aruch, Rishonim and Acronnim. His coursework includes the “Sofer” classics which include Mishnah Brurah, Mishnat Soferim, Kesset HaSofer  Kol Yaakov and other halachic works pertaining to the laws of torah tefillin, mezuzoth, megiloth as well as the laws of writing G~D’s name. The halachic materials required to become a Sofer are much more intense comprehensive and much more difficult to learn and master from the theoretical points than a shohect and a mohel.

The technical side of becoming a sofer is, within itself a full course. For an individual to become a sofer he first has to master the theoretical halachic side of the profession, otherwise he will have no clue if what he is doing is actually correct according to Halacha. Once he understands what is required of him, then the challenge is to learn how to fulfill all the points which he is learned. A person learning the technical aspects first, followed by the halachot is like driving a car without knowing which side of the street to drive on. 

Writing is more than just putting pen to paper, especially when one does not write with a pen but rather was a quill. A sofer needs to learn how to choose a feather, how to make that feather into a quill, , how to use the quill to make the strokes required and finally create letters, and only thrn how to write letters with a quill.

Beyond the letters, one is not writing on paper but one is writing on parchment, which one must learn to choose. These factors will affect the sofer’s writing and the longevity of what he writes. He is also writing a given text, which means he has to learn how to fit the given text into the space allotted.

A sofer has many other non-tangibles to cope with, such as being able to adjust one’s ink to allow for even flow during periods of time when it is hot and dry compared to other times when it is damp and cold. A sofer needs to learn how to do simple acts such as to correct a mistake. Making an erasure on parchment is much more difficult than taking a simple eraser and erasing pencil on paper.

As one can see, becoming a certified professional sofer is not a two week project but rather a full-time coursework for the period of approximately a year. To become an examiner requires even more studies and training. Nevertheless, many young Avreichim and yeshiva students who are looking for a source of income, not understanding what is truly involved towards being certified as a genuine sofer, will pay good money to attend these classes. Unfortunately, some will be tricked by the yeitzer harah to think they are actually sofrim.

Anyone considering becoming a sofer should consult with organizations as Mishmeres Stam or Rabbinim who are poskim (Rabbinic authorities) in this area of halalcha. While we all need parnasa, one should not permit oneself to become duped into thinking that in a few weeks one can actually obtain the knowledge and skills required to becomes a certified well-trained professional sofer.

One may contact Rabbi Moshe Flumenbaum directly at

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