By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights
When purchasing STAM (Sifrei Torah, Tefilin, Mezuzos, Megilos), we must heed the words of the Shulchan Aruch, “Tzarich lihiyos me’oid yarei Shomayim v’choraid lidvar Hashem hamisasek bekesivas hatefilin v’tikunon.” One involved in writing and fixing STAM must have a high degree of fear of Heaven and tremble at the word of G-d.
Before we choose a sofer it is crucial to inquire whether he has high standards and is careful to abide by all the halachos scrupulously, that he has a sterling reputation, as well as a ksav kabbalah confirming that rabbonim have attested that he is qualified to do his job and is known to be a yerei Shomayim.
When we hire a car mechanic, a brain surgeon, or anyone else to perform a very important service for us, we look for the very best. How much more vigilant should we be when it comes to a davar shebikdushah, a holy matter!
In addition, it is a good idea to have another sofer check the item before we purchase it. There are many parashiyos of tefilin and mezuzos on the market written by sofrim who do not abide by certain hidurim, are kosher only bedieved, after the fact, or are unfortunately pasul. This is even more pertinent when purchasing STAM from a commercial vendor without knowing firsthand the identity or standards of the sofer.
Those who sell tefilin and mezuzos that are not kosher are machti es harabim, cause the masses to sin, and it is the equivalent of chas vesholom selling non-kosher food to Jews.
The Levush writes that it is crucial not to take the word of just any sofer at face value; rather, a special group of upright sofrim should be appointed in every city who are knowledgeable in Torah, truthful, hate money, are G-d fearing, and tremble at His word, similarly to the requirements for shochtim, ritual slaughterers.