New Sefer Torah

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Dear Rabbi Simon,
Our Shul is Modern Orthodox. We are looking at acquiring a new Sefer Torah. My limited understanding is that we have a choice between Ari or Beit Yosef. Which would you recommend for our kehillah? What essentially is the difference?

Dear Jonathan,
Go for the Beit Yosef (see Bereshit 41:55). This is the “font” prescribed by Rav Yosef Karo in the Shulkhan Arukh and has been standard throughout the Ashkenazic world for centuries (even though Rav Yosef Karo of course was Sephardi).
The style of the Ari incorporates some aspects of the earlier, medieval script known as Vellish. It has become popular with Hassidim and many Sephardim. Chabad go their own way and use a variation of the Ari script.
The difference between Beit Yosef and Ari is in the shape of 5 or 6 letters. BTW it is doubtful if the Ari even intended his changes to be used in siferei torah. It may be that he only advocated for the change in tefillin specifically. In any case, my recommendation for a shul comprised predominantly of South African expats [even if it is not Kesher] is to go for Beit Yosef.
Best wishes,
Rabbi Rashi Simon

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Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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