Halacha » Q&A: Checking STa”M, Selichot

Q&A: Checking STa”M, Selichot

The Minhag of many is to check their Mezuzot in the month of Elul. What could have gone wrong since last year?

Indeed, the likelihood of the Mezuzah becoming pasul is not common, and hence it’s only recommended and not halachically mandated to check them. The reason to check them is to ensure the letters weren’t erased or broken by water, humidity, etc.

Also, since there are so many details in a Mezuzah, many times a Sofer may notice things that the previous Sofer who checked them may have overlooked and is able to fix them. Finally, it’s also a way of telling Hashem before Rosh Hashana, that we are up to fixing ourselves in every possible way to make sure we come prepared for the New Year.

What does a Sofer look for when he checks the Mezuzah and Tefillin?

A Sofer checks many things to make sure the Mezuzah and Tefillin are kosher

In the Mezuzah, we make sure the letters are written correctly. There are many details to each letter, some details are considered L’chatchila, and not having them would grade the Mezuzah as Bedieved; whereas other details can render the Mezuzah pasul–not valid, and the Mezuzah would need to be changed.

Some issues can be fixed by the Sofer, and some can’t be. Other problems could be letters which are too far apart from each other, or words too close to each other, letters that are fading or breaking, smudges or simply missing/ extra letters.

It is common to find that the crowns which are placed on top of the letters (called Tagim) aren’t attached to the letter which makes it pasul, or that the crowns are missing all together.

This is just a small sample of some possible concerns, but of course, there are many more.

Can a Sefardi yeshiva boy say Selichot with his Ashkenazi yeshiva or must he go to a Sefaradi minyan? If he can, would saying in their version נוסח is acceptable?

Sefaradim should say Selichot with a Sefaradi minyan. If it will cause someone to miss out on his learning time in the Yeshiva, or if the Rosh Yeshiva doesn’t allow one to pray at other places, he may say Selichot with his Ashkenazi friends as long as he is saying a Sefaradi Nusach. (שמש ומגן ח״ד סימן עב)

What should one do if in the middle of his prayer, he hears 13 Middot or Kadish from another minyan praying in the next room?

The obligation to answer with a minyan is only if one is in the same room with them, but if they pray in a different room, one isn’t obligated to answer at all, even if he isn’t praying or learning.[1] Nonetheless, R’Eliyashiv ZT”L explained[2] that although there is no obligation, if one wishes to answer he may. One who is praying though, shouldn’t stop to answer unless he is in the middle of Pesukei D’Zimra.[3]

[1] הגרש״ז אורבעך ז ״ל בהליכות שלמה (תפלה פ״ו הלכה).

[2] אשרי האיש (או״ח ח״א פ״י הי״ג)

[3] אשרי האיש, מועדים עמוד עט