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Author:  withheld
E-mail:  not available
Date:  1/22/2004 5:38:00 PM
Subject:  Silk Screening
Message:  Saw this article. Do you have a reply?

Silk-screened sifrei Torah, tefillin, mezuzas and megillos, produced and distributed by a ring of forgers, were uncovered recently in Eretz Yisroel. These kisvei stam, invalid for use according to all opinions, are virtually indistinguishable from the valid product.

Computer scanners can be used to create patterns that replicate writing by top soferim, reproducing entire pages within minutes. The elaborate fraud led to a major scandal, shocking leading halachic authorities. Since only expert i>soferim are able to distinguish between genuine writing and silk-screened reproductions, many innocent consumers are liable to purchase unfit mezuzas, sifrei Torah and tefillin.

Gedolei haposkim issued harsh letters of denunciation against the ring of forgers who breached the walls of kedushoh by relying on halachic rulings rejected by all poskei hador. A letter signed by HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv reads, "A Megillas Esther bearing peculiar writing on a klaf was brought before me and, although it appears to have been written by a skilled professional with a variety of hiddurim, a special examination indicates this is not kesivoh at all, but was done through silk- screening.

"In addition to the michsholim that could result, it remains to be determined whether this falls under the rubric of `kosav, velo shofach' discussed in Perek Beis of Gittin Yerushalmi. In kisvei stam there is also a deficiency in sanctifying the Holy Names, rendering [the writings] totally unfit and forbidden for mitzvah use. Anyone who issues a halachic ruling permitting them and anyone involved in their sale or distribution is a sinner and causes the public to sin.

"According to the Maharshal they require genizah: `Writes Chochmas Shlomo on Gittin 54b, "He pays nothing, not even their value for study use. Although sifrei Torah were once studied from [directly], in the case of sifrei Torah it is prohibited, since they are liable to be used for public readings; instead they should be destroyed through genizah."' The Tiferes Shlomo on the Rosh and the Taz on Yoreh Deah (271) rule similarly.

"He who wants to fulfill the mitzvos of laying tefillin, fixing a mezuzoh, reading a megilloh or writing a sefer Torah should verify that the item was written by an skilled sofer with yiras Shomayim."

A letter issued by HaRav Nissim Karelitz reads, "Considering the many michsholim involved in sifrei Torah, tefillin, mezuzas and megillos not written properly but merely [produced] through silk-screen printing, I hereby give notice that they are entirely unfit; he who lays such tefillin has never laid tefillin on his head and a home with such mezuzas is a home without a mezuzoh. All those involved in this are subject to double retribution and those who bring merit to the public by [producing] kosher stam writing will receive great reward . . . "

Another harsh warning was issued by the Beis Din Tzedek of the Eida Chareidis in Jerusalem and signed by the Av Beis Din as well as other members. The letter states, "We were seized with great fear and trembling upon seeing sections of a sefer Torah and megilloh produced through silk- screen printing and brought before us. This was done by people of ill repute who lack any trace of yiras Shomayim and who are involved in distributing them on the market with the sole intention of uprooting the foundations of halochoh of this sacred work, and woe are we to see such a phenomenon in our day.

"We hereby disclose our position, daas Torah, that sifrei Torah, tefillin, mezuzas and megillos produced through these means are entirely unfit and cannot be used to fulfill mitzvos, and doing so is a grave prohibition. Furthermore it is prohibited to keep them, as is written, `Al tishkon be'oholechoh avloh.' He who commits or assists in this act is a sinner and causes the masses to sin and will one day have to stand judgment for this. And he who guards his soul will distance himself from them. Therefore producers and distributors are not to sell parchments to those involved in this.

"Those who purchased sifrei Torah, tefillin or mezuzas recently without knowledge of their source must have them checked by a skilled sofer, and anyone who knows people who produce, distribute or sell such sifrei Torah, tefillin, mezuzas or megillos is required to notify the beis din in order to protect the public from transgressions. Those who heed our words will dwell in peace and serenity. May we merit the salvation and redemption of Klal Yisroel through the coming of the Goel Tzedek speedily in our days, amen."

Beis Din Tzedek Zichron Moshe issued a notice stating the following:

"A. These sifrei Torah, tefillin, mezuzas and megillos are prohibited outright since they are not an act of writing in any form whatsoever, and by reciting a brochoh on them one is reciting a brochoh levatoloh, and of course one cannot fulfill mitzvos with them.

"B. It is prohibited to keep such a sefer Torah, even for use as a Chumash or megilloh from which to study. It has the status of an unchecked sefer Torah, particularly since its fault is indiscernible and it must be sent to the genizah immediately; keeping it constitutes a violation of "al tishkon be'oholechoh avloh."

"C. Buyers misled by sellers can cancel the transaction and demand a refund, since this is worse than a mum bemekach, for it is like providing an entirely different type of item.

"D. Thus every rov and moreh horo'oh must prevent this stumbling block from spreading further, choliloh. He who is able to prevent these printers from bringing stumbling blocks before the masses, Rachmono litzlan, by halting their activities must stop this public stumbling block, and blessings will come upon him."

The letter is signed by Beis Din members HaRav Moshe Shaul Klein, HaRav Yaakov Meir Stern and HaRav Shlomo Zalman Ulman. Av Beis Din HaRav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner also signed, adding, "The above remarks are as clear as day, for this type of writing activity is totally unfit according to Torah law and carries all of the implications mentioned in the above rulings by the reputable rabbonim, and the halochoh requires one to distance himself from this aberration."

Rabbonim, moreh horo'oh and activists working to staunch the forgery ring expressed hopes that the publication of the daas Torah of maranan verabonon, headed by HaRav Eliashiv, shlita, will put an end to the distribution of silk-screened sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzas and will raise awareness among the general public to ensure such items are only purchased at locations under the supervision of known and authorized rabbonim and moreh horo'oh.

Reply:  I agree 100% with what they are writing. Those people who wrote those Mezuzos, Tefillin, Megillas or Sifrei Torah in Eretz Yisrael using the old silk screen method, were Chotei Umachti es Horabim.
Boruch Hashem, the K'lall has always bought Divrei Kedusha from people they knew and trusted, therefore they never got fooled into buying those fakes. The naive, uneducated, people who just go into some store that says "Jewish Bookstore", end up being fooled, Rahmana L'itzlan. There was a picture of a bunch of Mezuzos on one piece of Klaf that they found by one of these individuals.
The only way to buy such Divrei Kedusha, are from someone you know and trust, like the above article states very clearly. ".....supervision of known and authorized rabbonim and moreh horo'oh."
The new silk screen method of printing that is being done by us is an unbelievable, unimaginable process, that is very hard to comprehend without seeing it. We hope, B'ezras Hashem that many Rabbonim will get to see the process and bring us all closer to the day that 80% of Sifrei Torah will be Kosher - NOT possul, like the Vaad Mishmeres Stam says is the reality now, Rachmana L'tzlan.
I hope this satisfied your request for a reply.

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