Exposé: Are any Cheap Mezuzos Perfect?

When the mezuzah scandal broke, most people were shocked. How could it be that so many respected members of the Crown Heights community were selling unkosher mezuzos? Is it really true?

The heated debate veered back and forth in shuls and on social media. Questions such as; What are the Halochos? Are the mezuzos all possul? And do I have to check my mezuzos? have been discussed and answered by sofrim and rabonim.

Yet many questions remain, but one such question stands out.

While the experiment done by the individual appeared fair, how could it be that not a single issue was found with just one of the stores in question? Even a quick glance at the mezuzos sold by that store show that the quality of the mezuzos are no better than those named Possul!

A sofer consulted by crownheights.info said, “Not to find any questions in a mivtzoim mezuzah at all is surprising. These mezuzos are cheap for a reason and are very hard to check. Even the most experienced sofer may miss something, but you can always find them if you are looking hard.”

The store that gained perfect marks was Machon Stam, run by Rabbi Yitzchak Raskin.

In an effort to answer this question, stills from the original video were taken of the ten mezuzos from Machon Stam. They were shown to a sofer, and asked to find and note any issues found.

As these are pictures and mezuzos themselves, only the following issues can be considered.

  1. Added or missing words or letters.
  2. Touching letters that are obvious.
  3. Malformed letters.
  4. Spacing Issues.
  5. Any other obvious issues found.

When the results were sent to crownheights.info, a second sofer was consulted for verification. The second sofer did not agree with all the issues found by the first, but found other problems the first did not.

The results from the first sofer are shown below, with those issues agreed on by both sofrim highlighted in text below each image.

With this, we answered one part of our question. The truth is that the mezuzos sold by Machon Stam have many of the same issues as the other establishments.

These mezuzos, called mivtzoim mezuzos, are of the cheapest kind and are difficult to check. Not all Rabonim allow for the sale of these mezuzos. The Crown Heights Bes Din under Rabbi Marlow allowed them with restrictions, including a minimum size. All the mezuzos involved are of those allowed by the Crown Heights Bes Din. No questions on the kashrus of the more expensive mezuzos have been raised against any sofrim or establishment. To bypass any issues while purchasing mezuzos, buy a more expensive one from a trusted sofer.

NOTE: No claim on the kashrus of these mezuzos are being made. These pictures are for educational purposes only. Any questions should be directed to a qualified Rav or Sofer.

Number 2 would be a Shailos Tinok as the beis is very narrow.

Number 5 may not be a Psul, but is missing the right tag.

Number 6 has a sharp bottom, which creates a question if it might be read as a beis.

Number 2 is true, although it would likely not make the mezuzah possul.

Number 4 looks like a bad smudge or correction made, but without the original mezuzos, no decision could be made.

Number 3 does look like a blot of ink, and although it might not be a psul, it should have been corrected.

Numbers 1-2 look like bad smudges or corrections made, but without the original mezuzos, no decision could be made.

Number 3, although hard to tell in the picture, as there appears to be a protrusion from the right side of the final mem, there are opinions that would make this mezuzah posul. The letter could be read as a backwards final mem.

Number 4 looks like a bad smudge or correction made, but without the original mezuzos, no decision could be made.

Number 5 looks like letters touching and might make the mezuzah pasul and uncorrectable. A look at the original mezuzos would be necessary to make a determination.

Number 3 looks like a bad smudge or correction made, but without the original mezuzos, no decision could be made.

Number 2 the space between the vov and closed mem is significant, but since the space between the closed mem and ayin appears longer, a Rav would most likely say kosher.

Number 4 the spacing between the mem and ayin of the word Shema is the same or greater rthan the space between the ayin and tof. This would make the mezuzah posul.

Number 5 the spacing between the chof and lamed is questionable, and a Rov should be asked.

Number 10 the long chof may not be long enough and the head is too narrow.

Number 12 (uncircled) the final tzadik has a questionable space between it and the reish before it. It also has an extra long quill stroke that makes the right head look to be “dripping,” and should have been corrected.

Number 1 the spacing on either side of the aleph of Yisroel is troubling and a rav shuld be consulted.

Number 3 the spacing between the mem and ayin of shema, and the ayin and tof is questionable, and might make the mezuzah posul.

22 Comments

  • 1. Which Soifer wrote:

    Made any comments on a picture of a mezuzah?

    It is well known that we absolutely and unequivocally do not determine such things without looking at the actual klaf. No pictures, no magnifying screens or projectors, the klaf itself. This is a clear horaah from Rabbi Zirkind, the Rebbe’s soifer.

    Whoever even opened their mouths about this from just seeing the screen should have their names publicized. There are people (including myself) who would not rely on such a soifer.

    Reply
  • 3. Sad reality wrote:

    et’s start with who I am and why I started this project:

    Those who know me know that I have always been involved with mivtza mezuza. When I was in Brunoy, I personally took down all the mezuzos, had them checked and put them back up. I did the same in Montreal camp, Cincinnati Yeshiva, and Chayolei camp. As you see anywhere I went I was involved with mezuzos. In the past few years I have been involved in educating the local Chicago synagogue gift shops about kosher stam. While meeting with the gift shop volunteers I stumbled on a sad reality. Some of the big wholesale suppliers of pasul mezuzos are frum yidden. In Boro Park (an office in the Keter building) you have a store called Klein Brother Judaica ran by Moshe Klein. This store sells 1000’s of pasul stam across the country. They claim its 100% kosher but it sure isn’t (selling a mezuza at $19). I went to confront this man, he shut the door on me after saying “bdieveddike yidden can use these mezuzos”. When I exposed this to the conservative movement they were shocked. A man with a beard is lying to them. Sadly he isn’t the only one. Zevi Sheinberger from Ramot Israel runs a Judaica scheme called Ramot Judaica. He sells to many of the online Judaica stores wholesale at $13 a mezuza and claiming its kosher checked twice! See attached some of the Mezuzos he sold to an online Judaica store who reached out to me.

    As you see I spend much of my time helping people check their mezuzos, and educating about the issues in the mezuza market.

    One thing bothered me very much, we have this problem among are own in chabad. I knew for many years the issues in crown heights Stam. Spoke to many rabbonim and sofrim who all agreed this problem is serious. No one did anything about it. After consulting with a Rav and a Mashpia i took the step of releasing an in depth video. Many are trying to discredit the work by pointing out that Rabbi Raskin is my second cousin. My friends, I work with this issue before that store was even open! I have no interest in promoting stores, I am educating the public. You can choose to deny the reality.. Besides does anyone want to point out the relation between Moshe klein in Boro Park and the CH Moshe Klein.

    The stores have tried a few angles. They tried a din torah, but then gave up when they see they have no case. They tried to claim that Machn Stam planned this when there is no truth to that. They have tried to discredit my report because Rabbi Raskin is my 2nd cousin. They tried to warp Rabbi Veiner’s psak about these halachik shalos. They tried to say that they rely on lenient opinions… Can someone please tell me which opinion holds a niggiah is kosher? or that missing taggim is still lchatchila? Or that when a child reads it as two words when its one its still kosher?

    These findings in machon stams mezuzos are not even worth my time to address. it just someone attempting to undermine the issue and make as if this video wasn’t genuine and was a promo for machon stam which it is not.

    YD Wolf

    Reply
    • 4. Yossi L. wrote:

      In your video you say that Raskin doesn’t deal with the cheap mivtziom (THE REBBE’S MIVTZIOM) mezuzos.
      Here we see the same type of issues with your holier then thou sofer & 2nd cousin.

      ALSO, being involved in mivtzah mezuzah in Chicago, doesn’t meke an expert. LEARNING THE HALOCHOS DOES!

    • 7. What are you talking about? wrote:

      I didn’t say buying a mivtzoim mezuza. I said that any soifer who would send in the above information based on looking at pictures, I wouldn’t use him. For anything. Where does it talk about mivtzoim mezuzahs.

      Any intelligent soifer is not opening his mouth about this, so the guy who did is probably not so intelligent.

  • 10. Nothing to see wrote:

    To rabbi wolf.

    Please comment on the specifics . Are the problems that you claim to highlight in your video a problem for all mezuzos or just not a problem for your cousin?

    Reply
  • 11. Great article. wrote:

    Wolf can not respond to these findings because he is not a expert in safrus he is an expert at making machlokos!!!
    That’s why he keeps saying the name of one sofer over and over again.
    All I will say to wolf is keep talking because the more you do the more every one can see who the real fraud is!!

    Reply
    • 12. Sofer sta"m wrote:

      GUT GIZOGT!
      Rabbi Wolf. If a Rabbi told you to do what you did the way you did it, then he is a rasha and ba’al mschlokes JUST LIKE YOU!

  • 13. Look Closely wrote:

    After looking at the full quality scans on Wolf’s website, I’m shocked at the level of nitpicking. Almost all of the issues highlighted are good explanations as to why these are basic level cheap mezuzos. The ksav is not nice, and the shape of some letters are not perfectly refined.

    The total amount of clear pesulim, i.e touching or cracked letters is absolutely zero. The total number of letters missing tagin is absolutely zero. Most of the mezuzos from the other stores clearly have at least one of these problems.

    Many of the alleged touching crowns problems don’t exist at all, and almost all of the rest only touch at the bottom, but there are three clear heads at the top. Some tagin appear to be touching, but most look to be touching only in the bottom part. While it should be fixed this is kosher lechatchila as is.

    That said, mezuzos 4J and 4K have some spacing issues, especially 4J (the sofer that went over the scans looking for every slight mistake actually missed one of the worst spacing problems in 4J, the ץ in הארץ הטבה). Some of these appear to be necessary to be shown to a tinok. Of the 10 mezuzos, 4J looks to be the only one with serious room for doubt about its kashrus. However, it isn’t clear, and it may be that it was showed to a tinok who read the words properly.

    Reply
  • 14. Question for Mr. Wolf wrote:

    Who was the Rav and Mashpia that approved releasing the video as you claim?? With no name, i am left to believe that it is a blatant lie on your part and you “explosive video” was done with no rabbinical authority.

    Reply
  • 15. rav wrote:

    mr. wolf you say you consulted a rav we would like to know who this rav is that gave you the ok to do what you did the way you did it

    Reply
  • 16. Yanki wrote:

    Mr. Author, please disclose your name and agenda before we start a non biased, level-headed conversation.

    Otherwise you sound like trying to rehash a non-story.

    Signed, silent majority.

    Reply
  • 17. To yd wolf wrote:

    If your whole point of your video was lisham shamayim like you concluded that people should have them checked before they buy, so why do you care that people are saying the same thing about Machon Stam. Why shouldn’t people also get those checked?? Obviously you’re not doing this lishem shamayim!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • 18. Certified sofer wrote:

    Mr wolf: you make as if you know these halachos. 1) the problem with negios is that it’s not surrounded by klaf or it changes tzuros haos. Look in Shulchan Aruch Simon 32 siif 16-20. And siif 5. This is not a simple issue. Rabbi viener did not say it’s pasul if you read his answer carefully. And missing tagin the alter rebbe says bidieved it’s kosher and some say pasul and therefore fix it. There is a famous noda biyihudah about all the lichatchilahs and you Should learn it. Bottom line is that it’s kosher lichatchila!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    • 19. Anonymous wrote:

      Dear Mr. Certified Sofer:
      As long as you don’t sign your name, and you hide behind anonymity, you’re credentials are in question.
      YD Wolf signed his name, to his credit, he stands behind what he says, and you are able to challenge him.

  • 21. to yd wolf wrote:

    can you explain to how how crowns touching is kosher lichatchila?????? look in shulchan aruch its the same things as missing crowns!!!!!!

    Reply
  • 22. Stop the slander wrote:

    Wolf was wrong to slander ehrlicheh yidden in our Shchunah of “Fraud”.

    Wolf was wrong for lying about or hiding the identities of the “Rav” and “Mashpiah” who allegedly gave him the green light to slander.

    On the other hand, we need to also be דן him לכף זכות and not believe all the stuff that were recently written about him across the web. Not every rumor is true. And not everything true about him is necessarily relevant to the discussion either.

    Reply

Comments To The Editor