P’sak from Rav Elyashiv Impacts Kashrus of Sifrei Torah


rav-yosef-shalom-elyashivA number of Sifrei Torah are posul, according to a p’sak issued by Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the posek hador, who said that one who is not a shomer Torah umitzvos and authors a letter in a Sefer Torah invalidates it.

As is known, often, yeshivos, shuls or mosdos have donors dedicate a Sefer Torah, and it is customary to honor the donor, even if he is not an observant Jew, to write a letter in the Sefer Torah.

Rav Elyashiv has unequivocally ruled that those who are mechallel Shabbos invalidate a Sefer Torah by writing a letter in it.

Rav Elyashiv was asked what the din is if a non-religious dignitary, official or a similar personage was honored with writing a letter – not just filling one in, but actually writing it, according to one source.

Rav Elyashiv responded that even bedieved it is considered an invalid letter, and it must be erased and rewritten. It is also not enough to simply write over the letter, placing ink on top of it, but rather it must be removed and then rewritten.

One source in Israel claims that the p’sak will invalidate hundreds of Sifrei Torah. A sofer in the United States contacted by Matzav.com said that he was not aware of the p’sak, though he said he is not surprised by it, adding that he does not think it will invalidate many Sifrei Torah – in the United States anyway – because “virtually every person who donates a Sefer Torah to a yeshiva or shul,” he said, “is a shomer Torah umitzvos.”

According to the p’sak, any Sefer Torah that contains even one letter written by a Jew who is not shomer Shabbos would be posul.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. How will one know which Torah had a letter writtne by an individual which is not Shomr Torah Umitzvos. Can we assume the non-kosher will be Botel B’rov.

    I see in many cases the Sofer will hold the Feather together the person filling in the letter.

  2. Would someone who is ????? to the Rav please explain just how is *anyone* going to be able to check who wrote what letter in any given ??? ?????

  3. This is not a new psak. Sofrim have been aware of this for ages, so all the letters are always entirely formed, and all that needs to be done is some minor filling in. No one other than a trained sofer actually writes a entire letter from scratch–they wouldn’t have a clue how to form the letter properly.

  4. “not just filling one in, but actually writing it,”

    No problem. A non-shomer Torah doesn’t know how to write a Hebrew letter from scratch.

    Besides, most of the letters “donated” in a typical Hachnassas Sefer Torah are already outlined by the sofer – the donor merely fills them in (even if he’s a Shomer Torah).

  5. This is not as much a Pesak as it is a condemnation of this practice.

    To honor ‘Mechalelei Shabbos BeFarhessia’ to write letters in a SEFER Torah is Passul and makes the Torah Passul.

    This practice should be stopped!

  6. I think everyone should relax. The only reason that this came out now is because someone learned about mumar in Chulin.
    As always before doing anything ask your Rov.
    He should know better than an internet article what Harav Elyashiv paskened.

  7. “virtually every person who donates a Sefer Torah to a yeshiva or shul,” he said, “is a shomer Torah umitzvos.”

    Complete shtuyot. If anything, MOST of the donors of Sifrei Torah aren’t Shomrei Torah u’Mitzvot (or at least not Shomer Shabbat), because they hold most of the wealth in Jewish communities.

  8. Many sifrei Torah come to the final event of writing with the last several lines of letters outlined only, but Kosher even without having ben filled in. But frequently, the last word is missing enough to be posul and is actually written by the sponsor or whomever. An example would be that the last letter, the lamed of Yisroel, the chof and vov would be disconnected. Or the Sin of Yisroel will have the three boxes on the top, and the triangle on the bottom, but the connecting lines are missing. That is where you would need to be certain that the sponsor/writer, is a Shomer Torah Umitzvos.

    My yeshiva had a hachnasas Sefer Torah last year. The Sofer that was arranged was there during the entire final writing portion and wrote everything. Anyone honored to participate was only given an opportiunity to appoint to sofer as his shaliach. The actual osios were not touched by anyone but him. This was mostly due to the concern that the ksav should be first class b’hidur, not necessarilty due to this psak. I don’t recall anyone there who wasn’t Shomer Shabbos.

  9. Keep in mind that, to the best of my knowledge, and correct me if I’m wrong, it is also only a few letters in the last few lines on any Sefer Torah that are left to be filled in, one need not worry about a random letter anywhere else in the Sefer.

  10. When I saw a not-yet-frum person writing in a Sefer Torah, the sofer (R’ Berger from Lakewood) had his hand under the other man’s hand. I was told that it was in order to avoid exactly this problem.

  11. To #10, This very issue came up in Lakewood a couple of years ago when someone was exposed as being a goy! There was a huge tumult about botul b’rov that day in bais medrash and i clearly remember someone showing a Shu”t Chasam Sofer which states that there is bittul even on a letter in a sefer torah, which is a huge chiddush in s’vara. I don’t remember where it is though. Gonna try to find it. Might have been the one you quoted but obviously with a different understanding.

  12. This psak isn’t really out of the ordinary. It just sometimes takes a famous Rav to get people to think. The Gemara Chullin 6a says that one who is Mechalal Shabbos in public is not valid. Examples in the gemara are that his slaughtering is unfit and his wine isn’t kosher. Writing a Sefer Torah is even worse if he doesn’t keep the related mitzvos like belief in the Torah reading and wearing Tefillin.
    As far as bitul, that is impossible to help, because we don’t want the letter to disappear, we need it to be written properly and it wasn’t.

  13. the letter “yud” is passul in outline form, and would be a problem. Heard from Rav Elyashiv, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Scheinberg

  14. A sofer in the United States contacted by “Matzav.com said that he was not aware of the p’sak, though he said he is not surprised by it, adding that he does not think it will invalidate many Sifrei Torah – in the United States anyway – because “virtually every person who donates a Sefer Torah to a yeshiva or shul,” he said, “is a shomer Torah umitzvos.””