A Modern Approach to an Ancient Art

For thousands of years Jews have written their holy sifrei Torah, mezuzos and tefilin by hand. And so even with the invention of the printing press no one has dared change this ancient requirement. Beside the requirement that they must be  written with the proper intention, halacha also demands that they only be written with the right hand and that letters not be formed through the process of elimination. Neither can ink be sprayed or dropped on parchment to form a letter. Tefilin and mezuzos must also be written  in the proper sequence.

Yet there were always unscrupulous individuals who were caught using  shortcuts such as printing them. Recently, a very learned and respected rabbi,  also known as being a maverick in halacha, has come up with a brilliant idea. Why not produce these scrolls  through the process of silk screening. All one has to do is produce a silk screen and all the sofer need  do is brush the ink over the screen spread over a piece of parchment and eureka! One can thereby produce a sefer Torah in just a few days instead of a year. Beautiful mezuzos can thus be produced in just minutes instead of hours,  and cost pennies! This would bring down the prices of Sifrei Torah and allow every person to buy one for himself , the rabbi claims.

Great idea, only one problem. When I asked which leading poskim had given their approval to this method of writing, I was given the names  of some rabbis, but they could not supply me with any written confirmation. When I  called some leading poskim such as Rabbi Cheskel Roth and others in Israel, to find out if they approved of this new innovative method, they replied that it is absolutely scandalous and they  vehemently disapproved of  it. They asked that all should be done  to put a stop to it at once. Yet, that  hasn’t really stopped the rabbi from informing the public and claiming that he is doing it with the full authority, approval, and endorsement of leading Torah scholars, a claim which he is unable to  substantiate in writing. He is now producing these silk screened mezuzos and also offering Sifrei Torah for only $18,000 each, quite a bargain if they would only be kosher.  And now that his secret is out, I wonder what stops anyone else from making his own silk screens and producing them at a quarter of the cost?

Actually, the rabbi shouldn’t really receive the credit for this original approach, since a number of years ago the Vaad Mishmeres Stam in Israel caught someone working in the Israeli Ministry of Education mass producing mezuzos and selling them worldwide using this exact method. The Vaad made the discovery by accident. Someone had brought some of the mezuzos into the Vaad’s office to have them scanned by their computer to see if they were kosher. The computer immediately alerted them of the fact that all the mezuzos were identical to each other and to another one that had previously been scanned. The only way two mezuzos can be identical is if they are printed. It is impossible for anyone to write two identical mezuzos by hand. The Vaad did a through investigation and traced the source of these mezuzos. It discovered that the person producing these counterfeit mezuzos did so through the process of silk screening. The leading poskim in Israel, Rabbi Wosner of Bnei Brak and Rabbi Eliashuv of Yerushalayim, were outraged and asked the Vaad to press charges and have the criminal arrested for fraud.

Perhaps next, the good rabbi will  simply  connect a pen to the output of a computer and have the sofer type the words on the keyboard. The pen will automatically write the words on the parchment, which will be in the printer. In fact, who needs a sofer? Anyone can do it himself! Whoops! I better watch myself and not give him any ideas, since one never knows if he will take me seriously and later claim that it has my endorsement!

Please note that these Sifrei Torah and mezuzos  are now actually being produced by Rabbi Yossi Tessler in Lakewood N.J.  The Vaad  Mishmeres Stam calls on him to cease and desist at once, until he gets the written consent  of the gedolei poskim, !