The Sta”m Chronicle (4)

20 Cheshvan 5774
October 24, 2014
In our last Newsletter we discussed two of five tips one can employ when purchasing Sta”m to help ensure that a l’chatchilah product is received. 1. “Ask around” among people known to be scrupulous in their mitzvah observance. And 2. Ask if the sofer and magiah have received certification. (A Teudah)

We now continue with the list:
3. An outstanding way of measuring the reliability of the broker or sofer is by asking him a simple question; “Whom do you bring your shailos to?” The following must be crystal clear: There is no such thing as a sofer or broker who does not have shailas regarding the kashrus of an occasional pair of parashiyos or mezuzah. It simply doesn’t exist. Even the very best sofrim encounter shailas every so often.
An honest, ehrlich and reliable individual will then bring those shailas to a Rav who is an expert in hilchos Sta”m for a psak. The Rav may reply with any of the following decisions:
L’chatchilah but NOT mehudar.
Shailas Tinok
Shailas tinok means that the questionable letter must be shown to a child to see if he/she will recognize the letter correctly or not. Sometimes the Rav will say that even if the child DOES recognize the letter – it will still be kosher only b’dieved.
The client is then relying on the broker or sofer to put this item on the side if it is not up to the standard they are being told it is.
If the sofer or broker does not have a clear, instantaneous answer to this question, this is cause for alarm. A person selling Sta”m must have a Rav to whom he brings all his shailas. If he is not bringing his shailas for inspection, you may well be receiving an item whose kashrus is questionable.
4. Ask the sofer or broker if you can bring the mezuzos or parashiyos to “your” magiah. Ask this of him even if you don’t have a magiah you are familiar with. The advantages of having the parashiyos checked by an additional set of eyes are obvious. Yet, the primary purpose of the question is to observe his reaction.
If he is hesitant, or wavers, or starts giving excuses why he can’t let you have them examined by an outside party – do not purchase the Sta”m. An honest, reliable sofer or broker will have no reason to refuse such a request. After all, if he is confident that the item is up to the standards he is selling it as, he will welcome the opportunity to have an outsider also proclaim the item as mehudar or l’chatchila.

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

  Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz is a practicing magiah who lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He has certification from the Vaad Mishmeres Sta”m for Safrus and Hagahah. He has received Rabbinical semichah for psak in Sta”m from HaGaon HaRav Mordechai Friedlander, Posek for Mishmeres Sta”m in Yerushalayim and the Badatz Eidah HaChareidis Sta”m division. Rabbi Mendlowitz has authored the acclaimed sefer “Inside Sta”m, A Complete Buyer’s Guide” (Israel Bookshop 2012) and is in the process of preparing a Hebrew version for print. He lectures in Eretz Yisrael and the U.S. to raise consumer awareness in these areas. Rabbi Mendlowitz may be contacted at


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