Author Topic: Mezuzah Fraud  (Read 22998 times)

Offline ExGingi

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #285 on: June 15, 2020, 06:16:35 PM »
Finally, if the findings out of Chicago are true, does that mean that many times the people who have tfillin put on them by Chabad are actually wearing passul tfilin and making a bracha lvatalah? It would seem that anyone active in putting tfillin on people should have the tfillin checked by an unafiliated sofer. It would be the prudent and reasonable thing to do.

You are probably totally not following the story.

The Mezuzos in question are so-called "mivtzoim mezuzos" i.e. mezuzos that are כשר but definitely not mehudar. They are sold to people who agree to put up mezuzos but for some reason couldn't be convinced that it is worth paying for anything more than just the basic (akin to what one would call in home construction "contractor grade", or building to code - which is the lowest legally acceptable).

Most Lubavitchers putting on Tefillin on other people use their own Tefillin. Such Tefillin are usually high end (from what I've seen/heard Lubavitchers pay more for their STA"M than others).
I've been waiting over 5 years with bated breath for someone to say that!
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Offline fineguy

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #286 on: June 15, 2020, 06:17:00 PM »
All he's saying is that it's not a mitzvah to over passel things. Meaning if there's a way in halacha to say it's ok it's better to do  so. As the age-old saying goes "a good rabbi is someone who knows how to be maykil and to be machmir is no talent"
OK but from what they are saying in Chicago, many of these tfilin are not in that category. They are saying they are clearly no good.

Of-course the counter argument is that those mezuzos in Chicago were played with. I wonder what the incentive would be, but if in fact they were, so then this letter writer and other sofrim/sellers should demonstrate how various random tfilin/mezuzos are really kosher. Of-course it would have to be proven that they are not choosing to show us tfillin that they know are kosher or that have been touched up. The incentive there would be obvious.

Offline El Capitan

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #287 on: June 15, 2020, 06:20:15 PM »
OK but from what they are saying in Chicago, many of these tfilin are not in that category. They are saying they are clearly no good.

Of-course the counter argument is that those mezuzos in Chicago were played with. I wonder what the incentive would be, but if in fact they were, so then this letter writer and other sofrim/sellers should demonstrate how various random tfilin/mezuzos are really kosher. Of-course it would have to be proven that they are not choosing to show us tfillin that they know are kosher or that have been touched up. The incentive there would be obvious.
In general I would say it's loshon horo but In this case it's clearly letoieles.
Not sure if you are chabad but around here people know to take anything this wolf family says with a grain of salt...
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Offline ExGingi

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #288 on: June 15, 2020, 06:22:07 PM »
so then this letter writer and other sofrim/sellers should demonstrate how various random tfilin/mezuzos are really kosher. Of-course it would have to be proven that they are not choosing to show us tfillin that they know are kosher or that have been touched up. The incentive there would be obvious.

They should? ? ? ?  ::)

Is this the way to deal with real halachic issues? Making online exposÚs?
I've been waiting over 5 years with bated breath for someone to say that!
-- Dan

Offline fineguy

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #289 on: June 15, 2020, 06:25:06 PM »
You are probably totally not following the story.

The Mezuzos in question are so-called "mivtzoim mezuzos" i.e. mezuzos that are כשר but definitely not mehudar. They are sold to people who agree to put up mezuzos but for some reason couldn't be convinced that it is worth paying for anything more than just the basic (akin to what one would call in home construction "contractor grade", or building to code - which is the lowest legally acceptable).

Most Lubavitchers putting on Tefillin on other people use their own Tefillin. Such Tefillin are usually high end (from what I've seen/heard Lubavitchers pay more for their STA"M than others).

Thanks for clarifying. That does seem to mean that the shlichus tfillin are not part of the present issue.

But as far as everything else goes, the problems remain. The argument that it is better to kosher them to prevent the potentiality of ginizah of kosher tfillin which is only akin to michikas Hashem when a very real sin of uttering the shem shamayim livatalah and the sin of not fullfiling the bibilical command of mizuzah and tfillin is at play......seems hard to accept. I would be interested in hearing a response to this.

Offline ExGingi

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #290 on: June 15, 2020, 06:27:28 PM »
Thanks for clarifying. That does seem to mean that the shlichus tfillin are not part of the present issue.

But as far as everything else goes, the problems remain. The argument that it is better to kosher them to prevent the potentiality of ginizah of kosher tfillin which is only akin to michikas Hashem when a very real sin of uttering the shem shamayim livatalah and the sin of not fullfiling the bibilical command of mizuzah and tfillin is at play......seems hard to accept. I would be interested in hearing a response to this.

So AYLOR!
I've been waiting over 5 years with bated breath for someone to say that!
-- Dan

Offline fineguy

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #291 on: June 15, 2020, 06:27:36 PM »
They should? ? ? ?  ::)

Is this the way to deal with real halachic issues? Making online exposÚs?
Maybe not as a first choice, but now that someone actually put out a video online showing that such types of tfillin are likely pasul (15k people have seen the video to date), then for better or worse, a similar response would seem necessary.

Offline fineguy

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #292 on: June 15, 2020, 06:31:26 PM »
So AYLOR!
What does my local orthodox rabbi (or better yet my local orthodox sofer) have to do with the current scandal?
His response wont change the issue at hand. What will help the issue is if the sofrim/stores stop selling the bad tfillin/mizuzos or if they demonstrate clearly that they really are kosher.

Offline ExGingi

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #293 on: June 15, 2020, 06:39:22 PM »
What does my local orthodox rabbi (or better yet my local orthodox sofer) have to do with the current scandal?
His response wont change the issue at hand. What will help the issue is if the sofrim/stores stop selling the bad tfillin/mizuzos or if they demonstrate clearly that they really are kosher.

Your local orthodox Rabbi might give YOU guidance as to how to approach this. (and I specifically referred to Orthodox Rabbi, and not Sofer, as I was asking about the proper way to deal with Halachic issues, not about the specifics of safrus)
I've been waiting over 5 years with bated breath for someone to say that!
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Offline El Capitan

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #294 on: June 15, 2020, 07:20:53 PM »


Lubavitchers putting on Tefillin on other people use their own Tefillin. Such Tefillin are usually high end (from what I've seen/heard Lubavitchers pay more for their STA"M than others).

Lots of guys I know buy "mivtzoim pairs" for people that commit to put on daily.
But the topic discussed is mezuzahs which guys buy for their route because I can't exactly lend a mezuza
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Offline yfr bachur

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #295 on: June 17, 2020, 12:35:28 PM »
As someone with some idea of the inside of the industry, I'm going to try and write a coherent overview.

I am not Chabad, and as such have no dog in this scandal/debate.

You can go into ANY Judaica store in the US and Canada, and ask for Mezuzos and their prices. Below a certain price point, the Mezuzos will probably have major issues. This is known to anyone who does a little research. The chiddush of the expose is that R' Wolf is picking on the retailers in a certain neighborhood.

What is the price of a Mezuza? After all, its just a piece of parchment and black ink. How much should it cost already, $20?
 
The Mezuzah Supply Chain
A sofer contracts with a wholesaler who guarantees to buy his mezuzos at a given price. They may contract for a specific number of mezuzos/tefilin each month or whatever the sofer manages to write.
The wholesaler (who has a number of sofrim writing for him) supplies stores that need mezuzos to sell.
There maybe additional middlemen involved, for example a wholesale buyer in Israel who sells it to a distributor in the US.
Some larger stores will have enough demand to do their own wholesale buying directly from sofrim.
At some point in the chain, the Mezuza is checked by a Magia to make sure its Kosher. The widespread custom today is to ALSO have it checked by a computer.

On every Mezuza, all of these people need to make money. 0)The Klaf maker 1) The Sofer 2)The Magia 3)The Computer Checker 4)The wholesaler 5)The final Retailer

The Klaf
Klaf is made either Avodas Yad (hand made) or Avodas Mechona (machine made). The lower level of mechanization, the higher the price of the Klaf. There are other chumros in the making of the klaf that can add to the price of the klaf, but this is irrelevant to the lower level commodity mezuzos we are dealing with.

The Sofer
Generally, sofrim who write for a living are located in Israel. There are sofrim in other countries but they are the exception. The Sofer has the expense of buying the klaf. He may also rent a work area (In EY this is very common).

It takes time to write a mezuza. The faster the sofer writes, the more mezuzos he can sell. The faster he writes the less time/care he takes on each letter in the mezuza. This can lead to issues in the proper forming of each letter, negios between letters, placing the letters below the sirtut (the embossed lines) which can all make the mezuza PASUL - with NO way to kosher it. he may also leave out Tagim (crowns), and look sloppy (a chisaron of Zeh Keli)
The more hours in a day that the sofer writes, the more mistakes he will have, and the sloppier he writing will appear.

The Magia and Computer Checker
Sometimes this is the one person, many people specialize in one or the other.
As with the sofer, the quicker he checks the less care he takes.
The computers also NEED attention. they DO NOT check automatically. They will bring up a list of possible issues in the mezuza. Depending on the neatness of the writing there can be many false positives, (and there can be false negatives, which is one of the reasons that it does not replace a Magia). The computer checker needs click a button two say that he looked them over and it's false positives, or click what the problem is. He the quicker he checks, the more mezuzas he checks, the less care he takes on each one.

The wholesaler
He may carefully select which sofrim he uses, or take anyone who gives him product. He may check that they have Smicha to write, that they have Yiras shomayim, that they know the halachos or he may not check at all.

The retailer
May be a certified Sofer or Magia who knows the halachos, or may just be a salesman.
Like the wholesaler he may or may not be selective in whose stuff he offers for sale.

To summarize The price of the Mezuza depends on:
1)How many Mezuzos the sofer writes a month i.e how quickly he writes. The more, the cheaper.
2)The speed of the magia. The quicker the cheaper.
3)The markup of the wholesaler and the retailer

Below a certain price point, , after the retailer and wholesaler's profit and the sofer's expenses, very little remains for the sofer to live on. He can only make up for this with volume. Volume = speed = lower quality.
It is more difficult to write tefilin than mezuzos, and both are more difficult than a Sefer Torah or Nach. The writing is smaller, and the din of Kesidran makes it impossible to fix many mistakes, if found after the sofer wrote more.
Considering that a sofer who can write a line in a safer torah in 5 minutes, writes REALLY fast, how fast can a sofer write a mezuza which is 21 lines?
« Last Edit: June 17, 2020, 12:57:09 PM by yfr bachur »

Offline ExGingi

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #296 on: June 17, 2020, 01:44:17 PM »
I am not Chabad, and as such have no dog in this scandal/debate.
Don't feed the trolls by calling it such.

You can go into ANY Judaica store in the US and Canada, and ask for Mezuzos and their prices. Below a certain price point, the Mezuzos will probably have major issues. This is known to anyone who does a little research actually cares, and has at least half of a brain.
FTFY

The chiddush of the expose is that R' Wolf is picking on the retailers in a certain neighborhood.
Again, please don't feed the trolls by giving any credence to sensationalism.

To the substance of what you wrote, you literally spoonfed the details in an excellent way. I think the other side of this is Rabbi Menachem Moskiwitz's letter.

And to those that haven't ever tried to get as many yidden as possible to put up as many kosher mezuzos as possible, please reserve judgment until you've done just that. The approach is always to get the person to get the best (though I doubt many would try to convince someone to pay $1,150 just for Rashi parshios, not considering the battim, retzuos, and Lehavdil bags), putting up 10, 15 or more mezuzos on a house sometimes gives a person sticker shock, so they might opt for 1 or possibly 2 or 3 better mezuzos with the rest being kosher but basic.
I've been waiting over 5 years with bated breath for someone to say that!
-- Dan

Offline avromie7

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #297 on: June 17, 2020, 03:11:33 PM »
The approach is always to get the person to get the best (though I doubt many would try to convince someone to pay $1,150 just for Rashi parshios, not considering the battim, retzuos, and Lehavdil bags), putting up 10, 15 or more mezuzos on a house sometimes gives a person sticker shock, so they might opt for 1 or possibly 2 or 3 better mezuzos with the rest being kosher but basic.
I find this to be an interesting approach, I would think the best approach would be to push for kosher l'chatchila, anything better than that is nice but not necessary and shouldn't be the focus. I think if you push for the best it takes away from the importance of getting good instead of questionable. If the person is unwilling/unable to buy kosher l'chatchila then you settle for cheap.
I wonder what people who type "u" instead of "you" do with all their free time.

Offline fineguy

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #298 on: June 17, 2020, 04:09:29 PM »
To the substance of what you wrote, you literally spoonfed the details in an excellent way. I think the other side of this is Rabbi Menachem Moskiwitz's letter.
What exactly is the other side? That the risk of putting a kosher mezuzah into shaimos is worse than the much more serious risk of selling passul mezuzahs, bracha livatalah, and transgressing the mitzvah of mezuzah?

And to those that haven't ever tried to get as many yidden as possible to put up as many kosher mezuzos as possible, please reserve judgment until you've done just that.
One thing has nothing to do with the other. Judgement is being passed on the purchase of very cheap Mezuzahs that are problematic based on the Chicago research. It is understood that it means that those dedicated people purchasing mezuzos to help others may need to pay more, but if the cheapest stuff is no good, there is no alternative.

The approach is always to get the person to get the best (though I doubt many would try to convince someone to pay $1,150 just for Rashi parshios, not considering the battim, retzuos, and Lehavdil bags), putting up 10, 15 or more mezuzos on a house sometimes gives a person sticker shock, so they might opt for 1 or possibly 2 or 3 better mezuzos with the rest being kosher but basic.
Note that you wrote "with the rest being kosher". That's the key point. It doesn't help matters if you put up many non kosher mezuzahs. The approach you give to go with kosher mezuzahs (with a few nicer ones) sounds nice, but we are talking here about the very cheap ones that we are learning one should never get.

Offline ExGingi

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Re: Mezuzah Fraud
« Reply #299 on: June 17, 2020, 04:52:05 PM »
I find this to be an interesting approach, I would think the best approach would be to push for kosher l'chatchila, anything better than that is nice but not necessary and shouldn't be the focus. I think if you push for the best it takes away from the importance of getting good instead of questionable. If the person is unwilling/unable to buy kosher l'chatchila then you settle for cheap.

Sorry, if I was misunderstood. When I said get the person to get the best I meant a nice mezuzah which is כשר לכתחילה לכל הדיעות (if something like that exists, or if not at least according to most opinions). Definitely not pushing for getting a $500 Mezuzah for the front door and $25 mezuzos for the rest. Was talking about a person who would get one or two $60-$80 mezuzos but still needs another 10 in his house and won't spend even $40 for those.
I've been waiting over 5 years with bated breath for someone to say that!
-- Dan