By COLlive reporter
The recent controversy about the kosher validity of small low-cost mezuzos and the modus operandi of the Sofer Stam industry brought some back to a document written in 1986.
On Friday, 24 Kislev 5747, the eve of the first night of Chanukah, the Crown Heights Beis Din (Badatz) issued a public letter to all sofrim (scribes), magihim (reviewers) and sellers of Stam, an acronym for Sefer Torah, Tefillin and Mezuza.
Rabbi Yehuda Kalmen Marlow OBM, Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba and Rabbi Yosef Heller didn’t write what prompted the letter, but it is clear they tried to impose standards on a market with little transparency.
While there is a great demand for Stam, they wrote, there is a lot of improper Stam on the market, “or at least ones that aren’t optimally kosher (lechatchila) and enhanced kosher (mehudar),” they wrote.
The 3 rabbis then spelled out 9 regulations “so that there would be no impediment in our neighborhood,” as a Mezuzah which is pasul (non-kosher) is known to create harm instead or protection.
Among the rules were that all scrolls, batim (boxes) and retzuos (straps) should undergo “rigorous review” and that their writers should be known as “G-d fearing and expert,” whether stemming from Israel or written locally.
“The small mezuzos which many of them are written without the required accuracy, and are missing tagim (crowns on letters) etc., should not be sold at all even after a review of the magihim here,” they stated.
They also demanded that all sofrim and magihim in the neighborhood appear before the Badatz and show their credentials and that they revisit the halachos of Stam in Shulchan Aruch at least once a year.
As reported on COLlive.com, a private research conducted by R’ Yisrael Dovid Wolf of Chicago accused Stam merchants in Crown Heights of selling small low-cost Mezuzos which are non-kosher.
Merchants responded by claiming their scrolls indeed undergo a careful review after being written and before being sold. They are calling Wolf to a Din Torah at Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch in Crown Heights, which runs independently of the Crown Heights Beis Din which is fractured today into 2 entities.