Acc to the Gem. the A"KH fasted for soferim not to get rich; because if soferim would get rich they would stop writing STAM.
My contention is that if they would have fasted for the opposite; namely for Safrus to be a very lucrative parnasah or a great business; THEN they would get what they desired.
Everyone would jump into "safrus", because of the money to be made!
And the result would be more seforim and possibly even at a lower price!
A Freilichen Purim
alex lebovits, toronto
The Anshei K'nesset Hagedolah was not concerned that rich sofrim would stop writing STAM. Rather, they were concerned that people would go into the profession to make money. The point of the Anshei K'nesset Hagedolah's fast was so only people who would write STAM lishmah would become Sofrim.
It is important that the Sofim have Yirat Shamayim, since other that the Sofer, it is many times impossible for anyone to know if the Sefer Torah (or Tefilin or Mezuzah) was written l'Fi Halachah. For instance, were the letters formed by erasing (Chok Tochos)? Did the Sofer say explicitly that he was writing Hash-m's name l'Shem Kedushas ha'Shem? The Anshei K'nesset Hagedolah fasted so that people would choose Sofrut for only the right reasons.
All the best
Peretz thank you for considering my question.
I know I asked the question in a provocative way. But the Gem. does say beferush 9 lines from the bottom on 50: "Omer R' Yehoshua ben Levi" that the reason for the fasts were "Shelo Yisashru-- Sheilmole misashrin, eyn kosvin"!
I understand that we want proper Soferim, just as we want proper Melamdei Tinokes. Yet that does not warrant us paying them a low wage so that we should get teachers that are Yirei Shomayim and ones that teach davka Lishma!
So my suggestion is to let safrus be a high paying profession but examine and be careful who you buy your seforim from. Just as one should pay high wages to Rebeim and examine their qualifications in the required areas. Just as one would examine and be careful when purchasing any high valued item.
I asked the above question from a Rabbi Fleischer who is a Sofer in Toronto. He gave the following answer in the name of R' Shlome Miller who is the Rosh Hakollel here.
R' Shlome said that when the AK"H davened that Soferim shouldn't get rich - they davened that they shouldn't get rich from an outside source (not safrus), eg from a lottery, real estate, or some other business venture..Because then they would stop writing! But they never davened that safrus shouldn't pay well.
I find that it is very difficult to read the explanation that you heard into the Gemara. The Gemara asks why Sofrim do not see "Siman Berachah" in their labors, and answers that it is for the same reason that the Anshei Keneses ha'Gedolah prayed that they not become rich. This implies that we do not want them to become rich from writing for the same reason we do not want them to become rich from any other source. Rashi (DH Eino Ro'eh) also writes explicitly that they will not see a Siman Berachah from their writing in order that they not become rich (see also Rabeinu Chananel).
It is important to know two basic market principles:
(a) The Anshei Keneses ha'Gedolah, who knew human nature, were aware that if a person can make a million without working hard, he will prefer that method of becoming rich to other methods which require him to work hard.
(b) Second, when one has lots of extra money to invest, new venues of investment become available to him which allow him to reap large profits for relatively little investment of time and energy (such as leasing for "Machatzis Sechar").
Safrus is very intense work. If Sofrim would become rich (due to being compensated properly for the amount of effort they put into their work), they would begin to invest their money in more lucrative and less energy-intensive ways and they would put less time into Safrus. We would constantly be looking for new Sofrim.
Our only alternatives would be either to offer Sofrim so much more compensation than their efforts warrant that they would prefer Safrus to other means of investment - which is obviously not a viable solution - or else for the Sofrim to put less efforts into their work and produce shoddy Sefarim - which is what Reb Peretz was trying to explain in his previous reply. This is why Chazal did not want Sofrim to become rich.
However, if the interest of the Sofer is solely to produce Sifrei Kodesh for others, he can become rich. We are confident that his wealth will not stop him from producing new Sefarim.