The Reliability and Necessity of a Computer Check

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Many years ago, the Vaad Mishmeres Stam developed a computer program which can be used to find missing or extra letters or words in a Sefer Torahmezuzah or tefillin. Since then, it has proven itself to be far better than any human. Until today, it has checked over … sifrei Torah and found only … to have been perfect. It has also proven that even the best sofrim are only human, and despite the fact that they carefully check the parshios they write, mistakes can slip by even the best proof-reader as any newspaper and printer can testify to.

With the advance in technology, others have also developed similar programs. However, in order to find out if these programs are actually 100% reliable and could find every mistake, I decided to put the different programs to a test and give them parshios which had mistakes in them and see if they would be able to find every single mistake. Let’s realize that parshios that are 99% kosher and are only missing one letter are in reality 100% posul.

The results showed that while they did find many of the mistakes, they, too, were not infallible and some mistakes slipped by them. The only program that caught them all was the one developed by the Vaad. So before giving you parshios a computer check, it would be advisable that you insist it be done by the Vaad and you should insist that they also give you a printout of the results.

Is A Computer Check Necessary?

Just imagine that someone invented a machine into which one could put a vegetable and it would immediately tell us if it contained any bugs which the eye could see, would we use it? I sure hope we would. While the Torah does not require us to use any machines but only our eyes, we all know that to do it properly takes lots of time and we often make mistakes and don’t do a good job. If we have some way to prevent us from making a mistake, than logic tells us that we should use it.

When we take a surgeon, we always look for the better one with the most up to date equipment. It stands to reason that when performing a mitzvah we also do everything possible to make sure that it is being preformed as best as humanly possible. And so while a computer check is certainly not compulsory, it is definitely extreamly helpful and desireable.

However, one must realize that despite the computer check, the Vaad requires that it also undergo an expert human inspection to determine that the letters themselves are formed correctly. This is something the computer does not do for it often requires the decision of a rov.