The Sta”m Chronicle (3)

3 Cheshvan 5774
October 7, 2013

In our last discussion we addressed the issue of subpar Sta”m being sold at low prices. Yet, as we all know, even when paying a respectable sum for what should be a respectable product, we do not always receive quite what we thought we were paying for. And this begs the question; how can one indeed ensure that he is actually getting what he thought he purchased?

Although there is no single, easy answer to this question, there are multiple means one can employ when in the market for Sta”m. I have made myself a list of five ideas. I’m sure there are many others, but these come to mind. By making use of these tips one can probably reduce his odds of getting “gypped” by over 90%. We will discuss these tips in this and coming Chronicles. (In no particular order!)

“Ask around” among people known to be scrupulous in their mitzvah observance whom they consider reliable. We all know people who are extra careful in regard to matzos. Others are super knowledgeable regarding lulav or esrog. Still others have thrown themselves headfirst into hilchos Shabbos. Since these individuals have acquired great proficiency in these fields and having been “in the shetach” for years, their opinions, suggestions and recommendations are often worth exponentially more than your neighbor who says that his brother in law writes mezuzos and is “very reliable”.

Those who are scrupulous in their observance have a knack to (or have made it their business to) find those who actually have considerable knowledge and seek their advice. Thus, by and large, they end up with much better quality Sta”m than the average consumer. Although this is far from fool-proof, nevertheless, as one who has been checking Sta”m on a daily basis for over a decade, I can testify that the average individual who has done his homework searching for a reliable seller will indeed have better mezuzos, tefillin etc. than his friend who “heard” that so-an-so is “very ehrlich” and reliable.

Ask the seller if the Sofer and magiah both have a “teudah” (certification). It is amazing how a simple, innocently asked question like this can sometimes send the seller into a fit of verbal calisthenics. The fact is that a great many sochrim purchase from sofrim who have never obtained certification and then have those same tefillin or mezuzos checked by magihim who have also never achieved this feat. Often the Sofer may have a teudah but was never asked if he does by the seller! I myself on more than one occasion have been told by a Sofer that I am the first person who ever asked him if he was certified. I have also been told by more than one Sofer that I am the first magiah in twenty years (!!!) who ever pointed out something that needed to be corrected in his Kesav! (And his Kesav is no better than average…)
Of course this does not mean that every Sofer or magiah who has certification does a good job. That is not the point here. The point is that a seller who has never asked the Sofer or magiah if they are certified to write or check, is a seller who should not be selling.
Be”h in the next issue we will continue with more tips…

The Sta”m Chronicle is reprinted here on JKN with permission from the author.
To see the original, please click on this link:


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