Auction 89 - Rare and Important Items

Lot 1

Mehudar Tefillin Parashiot, by the Jerusalem Sofer Rabbi Yehuda Asher Roth

Opening: $2,000
Estimate: $4,000 - $6,000
Sold for: $3,500
Including buyer's premium

Tefillin parashiot, "shel yad" and "shel rosh", particularly fine Ashkenazic Stam script (Beit Yosef). [Jerusalem, ca. mid-20th century].
Ink on thin parchment. Mehudar Stam script, by the Jerusalem sofer R. Yehuda Asher Roth. Enclosed is a report by the renowned expert R. Yehuda Brand, who examined the parashiot and found them to be kosher.

R. Yehuda Asher Roth (1889-1972), prominent sofer in Jerusalem in the 1920s-1950s and one of the progenitors of the Jerusalem Stam tradition. Born in Hungary, he studied in yeshivot there. In 1910, he immigrated to Eretz Israel and began crafting tefillin batim. After settling in Jerusalem, he drew close to Rebbe David Biderman of Lelov, who instructed him to study the art of scribal writing. As soon as he began his work as a scribe, he became known as an unparalleled sofer with an exceptionally beautiful script. Many Torah leaders from Eretz Israel and abroad were particular to buy his tefillin and mezuzot. His clients included: R. Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky (who ordered from him tefillin for the bar mitzvah of his son R. Yisrael Moshe), Rebbe Ahrele Roth, the Shomer Emunim (who ordered tefillin from him already in the 1920s), and R. Shmuel Aharon Yudelevitz, who was known to perform mitzvot with exceptional meticulousness.
R. Yehuda Asher, who was an outstanding Torah scholar, was particularly well versed in halachot pertaining to Stam. Many leading sofrim in Jerusalem would seek his opinion on specific questions or to clarify with him the laws of Stam, especially in regard to the shape of the letters. He would discuss these halachot extensively with his teachers R. Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, R. Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, R. Zelig Reuven Bengis, and R. Yisrael Ze'ev (Velvel) Minzberg (who termed him "posek acharon" – final halachic word on Stam matters – see enclosed material). In later years, he would clarify the halachot with the leading halachic authorities in Jerusalem: R. David Jungreis and R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (with whom he would pray Minchah every day in the Kelilat Shaul – craftsmen's shul, conferring thereafter on any question which arose in his work). Many of these analyses are recorded in his book Tikkun Sofrim and Binyan Av which he left behind in manuscript. Important traditions are quoted in his name in contemporary halachic works, as a reliable source for the laws of Stam writing, the shape of letters and treatment of parchment.

5 parchment parashiot. Height of "shel yad" parchment: approx. 30 mm; height of "shel rosh" parchments: approx. 23 mm. Good condition. Stains and creases.

Jewish Ceremonial Art