For thousands of years, teffilin, mezuzos and sifrei Torah have been hand written on parchment in the very same manner. Even with the invention of the printing press, Jews continued to write them by hand. That’s because the Torah says “u’ksavstom” which means that they be written and not produced by any other means such as spraying or pouring. (See Yerusahlmi (Gitin) that says that letters cannot be formed by dripping ink on parchment.)
Yet, most recently, there are some people that have decided that smearing ink over a silk screen is also considered a kosher form of writing and have now begun producing sifrei Torah, mezuzos andtefillin through the process known as silk screening which is similar to a stencil placed over a piece of parchment. All that is required is to paint or smear the ink over the stencil, a process that can easily be performed even by a small child that is still unable to write a letter. Using this method, one can produce a perfect mezuzah or sefer Torah for only pennies.
When Horav Hagon Yosef Shalom Eliashuv and Horav Hagoan Shmuel Wosner, two of the leading poskim were asked if this is indeed permissible, they both strongly rejected the idea and asked that all should be done to inform the public of this prohibition.
If a small child that cannot be taught to write a letter can easily be taught to produce a letter by using a brush to smear ink over the stencil, then it is quite obvious that the letters are being formed by the process of painting or smearing and not through the normal process of writing. (This is because a small child is still unable to write). To change the method of writing that has been used for thousands of years would necessitate the approval of the leading poskim and certainly cannot be done by any individual no matter how learned he may be.
Free translation of letter given by Rav Shmuel Wosner when asked about using the silk screening process used to produce sifrei Torah, teffilin, and mezuzos.
Thursday Parshat Bolok 5761
To the honor of my esteemed friend who works for the merit of the public, Harav Hagoan Rabbi Dovid Leib Greenfeld Director of the Vaad Mishmeres Stam.
I received the information from you and was appalled to hear about the new destructive method being used to write sifrei Torah, tefilin and mezuzos. I hear that there is a person who plans to write sifrei Torah (print) -through the process of silk screening – i.e. engraving the shape of letters one page at a time. By using this method, it is easy to print a column of a sefer Torah or mezuza, or teffilin at a very low cost.
This method goes against a fundamental requirement of the Torah, since it is not considered writing a sefer Torah at all. This is a “kal v’chomer” that can be derived from what the Mogen Avrohom states at the end of simon 32 (Or Hachaim) where he discusses the problem of not writing the letters in their proper sequence. This process however is not even considered writing at all. For the correct process of writing sifrei Torah, tefilin and mezuzos for which we have a tradition from Sinai, is to write each individual letter with the hand of a sofer, with the proper intent for each individual letter. There are other fundamental halahos in Siman 32 which are derived from the traditional way of writing which are contrary to this process.
This is a grave transgression and a clear-cut sin, and it is forbidden to use this process for it will also cause others to sin as well. It is truly difficult to comprehend how someone who has a Torah outlook and feeling would even contemplate doing something that causes others to transgress this. It’s a mitzvah to stop this and to stand very firm against it.
Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner