I watched a video on YouTube titled "I sent robot forgeries to a handwriting expert." I was wondering if would it be technologically possible to design a robot that could write a Sefer Torah.
Would it be technologically possible? Yes!
Tzfi Fishman, in a Jewish-Press article called: Can A Robot Write A Sefer Torah? An Interview with Rabbi Menachem Perl, Head of the Tzomet Institute writes that Rabbi Menachem Perl, head of the Tzomet Institute for Technology and Halacha, declared that, under certain conditions, a robot could write a kosher Sefer Torah (my edit: I do not totally agree with what is written in this interview, but it shows an interesting perspective on this subject).
In my humble opinion, there isn’t any real halachic obstacle to a robot writing [a Sefer Torah] provided that a sofer manually operates the writing of each letter – by, for example, pressing a button – and writes the names of Hashem.
However, since there is a considerable amount of innovation in this halachic understanding, the leading halachic authorities of the generation will have to give their consent to any practical application of it.
However, the writer needs to have kavannah and yirias shimayim. How can a robot then fulfill the job?
The writing must be for the sake of the mitzvah, and kavanah is especially required when writing the names of Hashem. But my assertion is that if a scribe with yirat shamayim operates the robotic mechanism and the computer controlling it – and he himself writes the holy names with the necessary intention – the Sefer Torah will be completely kosher.
Maybe the principle of chadasha assur min HaTorah applies here? Any thoughts?
One of the problems, halachically speaking, would be that the Bach says that before writing the words down, it needs to be vocalized (please add-in any sources, I could not find it at hand) - see this article from Rabbi Pinner.
See Keset HaSofer Perek 1:
או אשה או חרש או שוטה או קטן פסולי' ויגנזו שנא' וקשרתם וכתבתם ודרשינן כל שישנו בקשירה ישנו בכתיבה וכל שאינו בקשירה ... It says "you shall bind them and write them", this is darshaned whomever can tie can write whomever cannot tie cannot write
So a robot has no mitzvas and cannot write a kosher sefer Torah. The other answer by Shmuel quotes someone saying it can be used as a writing implement - I suppose.
However this is debatable please see Keset HaSofer 3
הקולמס אעפ"י שלאחר שעשה בה מלאכתה אינה ניכרת כלל בכתב. מ"מ צריכין לדקדק שתהא קולמס נאה. יש אומרים שיש לכתוב בקולמס של קנה ולא בנוצה ואין נוהגין כן אלא כותבין בנוצה ואפי' בקולמס של ברזל. ויש להסתפק אם מותרין לכתוב בנוצה של עוף טמא (דב"ש סוף סי' קס"ד): ...There are those who say you should write with a reed and not a feather, but that is not the minhag; rather, we write with a feather or an iron quill
Although this appears to permit a metal pen, it is clear that it should be a feather quill from a kosher animal as that is something kosher like the klaf etc... We can see from this though that what is written with does matter, it is not just an extension.
Also see the end there:
מעשה היה באחד שהיה גדם ותפס את הקולמס בשפתיו וכתב ופסלו אפי' באם אי אפשר למצוא אחרים מפני שאין דרך כתיבה כלל בפה (הרמ"ע סי' ל"ח):
There was an incident where an amputated man wrote with his mouth and it was decided to be pasul even if no other version can be found, because this is not the way of writing.
So after all of that, I don't think that pressing a button is called a way of writing ink on paper.
I didn't read the aformentioned linked article, but also in pure logic, I can see how the written Torah (via robot) can be ascribed to the button pusher, ie: he caused the ink to be put on the Torah, but I don't see how it could be called "writing". Ie: He didn't write it, he at best caused it to be written. I don't know if that is enough.