Question:

Dealer A ordered a sefer Torah to be written from dealer B. Dealer B hires the chosen sofer. Due to an unexpected health issue (אנוס), for the foreseeable future, the sofer can’t continue beyond sefer Breishis at a normal pace and could take him at least a few years longer than planned to complete.

Dealer A’s client wants a Torah but within a reasonable time and preferably written by 1 sofer. Can any one of the parties (client, dealer A or B) demand from the party they are paying that the money they’ve invested in the original sofer be refunded or is the only option to hire another sofer to complete the Torah?

If hiring another sofer is the only option there are a few concerns.
1) The value of a sefer Torah written by 2 sofrim, even if both of comparable value, has a slightly lower market value. Therefore, do the dealers have to cut into their profit by a significant amount to reflect the lower value of this Torah?
2) The original sofer was a metziah. There’s no way that a second sofer of comparable value will be found for the same price. it will cost +/-30% more to have a sofer complete the last 4 chumashim. The original agreed price of 30k will now become at least 34k before any consideration of the issue above. Does the client need to swallow this cost or is any of the parties responsible to swallow it?
3) The Torah price had been set prior to the weakening of the shekel. The price was set based on a 3.8 exchange. As it is, dealer B, who is in Israel, is the only one bearing a cut in profit due to the 5-6% devaluation. [If the exchange would remain in the 3.5-3.6 range he’d lose 25-30% of his profit due to this alone.] (The sofer is paid in NIS and dealer A and client are overseas.) When dealer B calculates the cost to have a 2nd sofer write the remaining 4 chumashim must/should he convert the NIS amount into dollars based upon the original exchange and bear the loss he was expecting to bear anyways had the original sofer written the Torah?
Note: Dealer B has received payment for 1/2 of the original Torah of which almost 2/3rd of that has covered all the klaf, writing of Breishis, dealer B’s profit for what’s been written and funds earmarked for checking of Breishis.
If additional information is needed please ask or email privately.

Answer:

Answer from Horav Y. Fleishman shlit”a

It is difficult to answer your entire question without seeing the contract. However as far as the sofer is concerned the din is quite clear. In siman 333 seif 5 it states that while it is true that the value of a sefer written by 2 sofrim is less-if the sofer takes ill he is justified in quitting. Therefore he has to receive a prorated payment-i.e. pd in full for what he did write. The other point of significance is that the weakening of the dollar doesn’t alter things because it wasn’t totally unforeseen therefore deals have to be kept. The fact that he was a bargain and it will cost far more to hire a new sofer is not his concern. I would imagine that the one who will lose is the customer but I can’t really answer the other questions bec you didn’t attach the contract between the two dealers.

Tags: Contract sofer

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2 Responses to “Sofer can’t complete Torah”

  1. Harav Fleishman Shlit”a

    There was no written contract between dealers. If any issue would arise, the matter would be worked out in consultation with daas Torah. As such, please reply to concerns 1 and 2 (and any other factor) as how they affect the dealers and customer.

    • So if there was a verbal contract what was it?

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