to write with feathers, as stated in these books. But, hey, all Ashkenazi sofrim do write with feathers, so what is going on?
That's when the Keset Hasofer comes into the picture. Authored by same author of the popular Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, this sefer intended to organize and give a final answer to all Safrut-related questions. Like he did in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Ganzfried compiled this book in a way anyone could understand and the Keset Hasofer was accepted as the last word for all Ashkenazi sofrim. For instance, he writes that the minhag of the scribes is to use feather quills and that there's absolutely nothing wrong with this practice. The final answer.
One of the leading rabbis of European Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Chatam Sofer said that no sofer could start to write a Sefer Torah, Mezuza or Tefillin before mastering the Keset Hasofer. In fact, he wrote the Haskama (letter of aprobation) featured in the beggining of the Keset Hasofer, alongside with the Haskama of the Tzanz Rebbe, also known as the Divrei Chaim.
Besides writing about the Halachot of Safrut, Rabbi Ganzfried decided between conflicting versions of the Torah and Megillat Esther, and that was perhaps his most important contribution to the Safrut world. Although all Jews have virtually the same text of the Torah, there are very few places - actually seven instances - where it's unclear how to write a particular word and the codices we posses have conflicting versions. Rabbi Ganzfried ruled which versions to follow in the latter part of the Keset Hasofer and thanks to him, we all follow the same unified text of the Torah (as I will explain in another post, the Teimanim differ).
Having all this in mind, I knew I had to buy the Keset Hasofer but I couldn't find it anywhere. I tried the usual book shops in Jerusalem, to no avail. So I forgot about it. I started to search for another important work, the Torah Shelema of Rabbi Kasher, and a friend directed me to a used-books shop in Mea Shearim. The smallest bookshop I've ever seen, this shop was specialized in old books but it is almost impossible to find anything there - all books, from the Zohar to Feldheim, are mixed together. So I decided to leave, but in my last look back something got my attention - a very old Keset Hasofer.
Unable to hide my excitement to the shop keeper, I was really happy to see that the book was in mint condition, despite its age. As I opened the front page, I saw the date - 1902. And I could also read the name of the owner in the top - "Aharon Toisig". I was sure this was no coincidence - this book was destined to come to my hands! So after some half hour discussing the price, I got this book for 120 shekels, or 30 dollars, a bargain.