I was just looking at the Keset haSofer and came across an interesting halacha

ואין נוהגין כן אלא כותבין בנוצה ואפי׳ בקולמס של ברזל

This is to say that we may write with a metal kulmus * (pen for writing sifrei kodesh). I was under the impression that it is preferable not to base metal implements in the creation of holy things, as they can also be used for creating weapons**

What is his rationale for permitting an iron implement for writing sta"m and do others agree with him?

*R' Ganzfried actually specifies iron

**This is a kal vachomer (a fortiori argument) from the halachic preferences of not using iron implements to cut the strings for tzitziot.

  • Isnt this a Chasam Sofer
    – sam
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 1:41
  • @sam, I didn't see where the sources were inside Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 1:58
  • 1
    I only know of a halachic issue with building altars with iron...
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 2:34
  • 1
    @NoachmiFrankfurt He wrote two different editions and IIRC he changed his mind about this point or something related. Worth checking if you can.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 2:00
  • 1
    Source requested for this bold statement: "not using iron implements to cut the strings for tzitziot." Commented Mar 1, 2015 at 8:50

3 Answers 3


The Rama writes that some say to use a reed and not a feather. The Taz explains, that by a Get there is a halacha that it should not be written using metal because it might engrave the words, and that would not disqualify the get. By sta"m - Sefer Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzahs- we want to avoid that as well, and that is why even a feather shouldn't be used, only a soft reed.

The Taz and Shach quote the Levush who says that it is not the minhag to avoid using feathers. The Keset HaSofer - you mentioned - takes it further, that we are not concerned about the scratching even with metal.

None of these sources write about the weapons aspect.

However, the Aruch HaShulchan does give two reasons why not to write with metal: 1 - it makes holes in the parchment, 2 - "The Torah increases life and metal shortens it".

P.S. Rav Wosner writes that one should not deviate from the minhag to use feathers unless there is a need.

I"m not really answering your question about the rational, other than to point out that the Aruch Hashulchan uses that rational, but I am trying to answer the part about others agreeing.


We only find the "no metal" rule in a single place; making the Mizbeach (דברים פרק-כז).

לֹא תָנִיף עֲלֵיהֶם בַּרְזֶל

There's the Posuk that states that no metal instruments were heard during the building of the Bet HaMikdash:

מלכים א ו, ז: וְהַבַּיִת בְּהִבָּנֹתוֹ אֶבֶן שְׁלֵמָה מַסָּע נִבְנָה וּמַקָּבוֹת וְהַגַּרְזֶן כָּל כְּלִי בַרְזֶל לֹא נִשְׁמַע בַּבַּיִת בְּהִבָּנֹתוֹ, מֵעַצְמוֹ הָיָה נִבְנֶה, לְפִיכָךְ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה נִסִּים נִבְנָה‏

But as the Rambam (הלכות בית הבחירה - פרק ראשון) tells us, the metal-work was done off-site.

ח: כְּשֶׁבּוֹנִין הַהֵיכָל וְהָעֲזָרָה בּוֹנִין בַּאֲבָנִים גְּדוֹלוֹת. וְאִם לֹא מָצְאוּ אֲבָנִים בּוֹנִין בִּלְבֵנִים. וְאֵין מְפַצְּלִין אֶת אַבְנֵי הַבִּנְיָן בְּהַר הַבַּיִת אֶלָּא מְפַצְּלִין אוֹתָן וּמְסַתְּתִין אוֹתָן מִבַּחוּץ וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתָן לַבִּנְיָן. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א ה-לא) 'אֲבָנִים גְּדלוֹת אֲבָנִים יְקָרוֹת לְיַסֵּד הַבָּיִת אַבְנֵי גָזִית'. וְאוֹמֵר (מלכים א ו-ז) 'וּמַקָּבוֹת וְהַגַּרְזֶן כָּל כְּלִי בַרְזֶל לֹא נִשְׁמַע בַּבַּיִת בְּהִבָּנֹתוֹ': ‏

Point being, metal was used, even to build the Bet HaMikdash.

Back to Safruth. Per the Gemara (Taanis 20) we are supposed to be using a reed - that is flexible.

לעולם יהא אדם רך כקנה ואל יהא קשה כארז ולפיכך זכה קנה ליטול הימנה קולמוס לכתוב בו ספר תורה תפילין ומזוזות

Once we're not using a flexible reed then there's no real advantage to using a feather as opposed to a metal quill.

IIRC the quill has to be Kosher - so one could argue that a quill is edible whereas metal is not.

(I've seen people use a reed - some Sefardim seem to be particular about it - but it requires sharpening the reed every few words - making the writing uneven.)

Bonus: We use a metal object for Brith Mila - even though in the Chumash we see that a sharp stone was used.

וַתִּקַּח צִפֹּרָה צֹר וַתִּכְרֹת אֶת עָרְלַת בְּנָהּ

I cannot find a classic source for your assertion of "the halachic preferences of not using iron implements to cut the strings for tzitziot".


Sorry for reviving an old thread. The use of metal vs. other materials for writing is mostly based on practicality (writing properties and properties of the klaf), although there are those who prefer to use a feather specifically based on the concept that just like the klaf should be from an edible animal, so too should the kulmus.

Regarding the tzitzis portion of the question, I don't have the source off hand, but I've seen/heard that tzitzis should be cut with one's teeth. When I had my tallis cleaned, the proprietor of the store indicated that the frayed ends should be cut with ceramic scissors, because it supposedly makes it less prone to fraying vs. a cut with metallic scissors. FWIW, I did try trimming with my teeth and fraying was minimal afterwards.

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