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Elul 27, 5768

Stam


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

Question:
1) I know that a sefer torah written by a mumar or any other kind of heretic must be burned. I assume the same applies for one written by someone who converted to Judaism through reform (i.e. not Orthodox Jew). What about a torah written by a reform Jew? It is unlikely to be Kosher but should it be burned?

2) I’ve been reading a lot about the first "soferet" Aviel Barclay. Is her position supported by Mishmeret STa"M? I read that she checks as well as writes. Is one not obligated to protest if only a normal sofer is now checking STa"M as opposed to a qualified Magiha?

Thank you.

Answer:
The issue of reform, especially a convert, is complicated. According to many poskim a reformed Jew today is a "Tinok sheNishba", a Jew who was not taught the truth of Torah and has quite limited responsibility for transgressions. The convert would be considered a non Jew, certainly not an idolater. The halacha of burning specifically applies to an idolater. A Torah written by a non Jew who believes in one G-d would be invalid, but not burnt (It should be put into genizah). In regards to a Torah written by a reformed Jew, it would be difficult to ascertain that the sofer was well versed in all the laws of writing the sefer, even more difficult to trust his sincerity in carrying them out if he would not be scrupulous in other mitzvot. But the sefer would not be burnt.

Tefillin and mezuzot written by a woman are invalid, wereas in regard to a sefer Torah there are opinions that it is valid. I am quite sure that no orthodox rabbinical organization has recognized the work of a woman soferet as being kosher. Protest is not necessarily productive, but it does help to let people know of the halachic problems. I do not know Aviel Barclay, but notice on her website that she mentions sefer Torah but not tefillin and mezuzot.
If a woman is invalid for writing, her corrections are also invalid.


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