Any Jew that has had to choose in purchase Tefillin and Mezuzos knows that it’s not an easy task. Even the most seasoned buyer may in fact not know what he is looking for. For example, an extremely nice Mezuzah or pair of Tefillin can have one tiny mistake that can ruin an otherwise-perfectly good Mezuzah or pair of Tefillin. On the other hand, a not-so-nice Mezuzah can cost half the amount as a very nice one and be more Kosher! What exactly is Mehudar, L’Chatchila and B’Dieved? What are the differences between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin? How many Sofrei Stam are “frum” but far from “ehrliche”? How many “shop around” when asking Shailos? How many even bother to ask Shailos, choosing instead to take matters into their own hands? Should you choose Ktav from a Yirei Shamayim or a highly-experienced Sofer that might not have the same amount of Yiras Shamayim as the one that has a lesser quality of writing? Believe it or not, there are arguments for both sides!
In “Inside Stam,” Rabbi Reuven Mendlowitz, an American Talmid Chacham living in Israel, explains with amazing clarity the ins and outs of Sifrei Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzos. I very recently just bought the book from Seforim Warehouse in Toronto for $26.99 and already feel that I got my money’s worth – in fact, it may have been a bargain considering the price of high-gloss English Sefarim. The book is 439 pages long and laid out in a question-answer format of around 75 of the most frequently asked questions a Sofer Stam gets from a layman. It has very clear high-resolution photographs of Tefillin, Mezuzos, as well as containing almost every Rabbinic opinion you can think of, replete with pictures and diagrams. The style of writing is done in a “normal” Yeshivish-English format, which the author confessed to me that he worked very hard on making the writing style relateable to today’s Yeshiva graduate. To which I say, Sh’Koyach!
If you live anywhere in the United States feel free to click on the Amazon.com link above and purchase through here – that way I earn a few cents on your purchase 🙂 If you live in Toronto, Seforim Warehouse for sure has it, and perhaps other places as well – you should call first though before driving all the way down only to find that it’s sold out. Amazon.ca doesn’t have it on sale, so that’s a bummer on Canadian customers.
In my honest opinion I have yet to see any sefer, let alone a sefer on Stam, written on a level where literally anyone can gain a wealth of information and retain it long after finishing the book. It’s definitely a must-have.