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Shabbat, 8 Nissan 5772 / March 31, 2012

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Eight, Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Nine, Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Ten

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Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Eight

Halacha 1

There are two forms for a passage which is written as p'tuchah: [One form is used] when one completes [the previous passage] in the midst of the line. Then, one should leave the remainder of the line empty and begin the passage that is p'tuchah at the beginning of the following line.

When is [this form] used? When the empty space is large enough to contain nine letters. If, however, the empty space is very small or one concludes [the previous passage] at the end of the line, one should leave one line totally empty and begin the passage that is p'tuchah at the beginning of the third line.

Halacha 2

There are three forms for a passage that is written ass'tumah: [One form is used] when one completes [the previous passage] in the midst of the line. Then, one should leave the above-mentioned amount of empty space and begin writing at least one word of the passage written as s'tumah at the end of the line. Thus, there will be a space in the middle [of the line].

When there is not enough room left on the line to leave this amount of space open and write at least one word at the end of the line, one should leave the entire space empty, then leave an empty space at the beginning of the second line, and begin writing the passage to be written as s'tumah in the middle of the second line.

When one completes the previous passage at the end of the line, one should leave a space of the above-mentioned size at the beginning of the second line and begin writing the passage to be written as s'tumah in the middle of the line.

Thus, a passage written as p'tuchah always begins at the beginning of the line, and a passage written as s'tumah always begins in the middle of the line.

Halacha 3

A scroll that has errors regarding the long and short form of letters can be corrected and checked as explained above. In contrast, if:
one erred with regard to the space between passages and wrote a passage that should be written as p'tuchah as s'tumah, or one that should be written as s'tumah as p'tuchah;
one left an empty space where a [new] passage does not [begin];
one continued writing in the normal manner without leaving a space between passages; or
one changed the form of the songs, the scroll is disqualified and may never be corrected. Instead, one must remove the entire column on which it is written.

Halacha 4

Since I have seen great confusion about these matters in all the scrolls I have seen, and similarly, the masters of the tradition who have written down and composed [texts] to make it known [which passages] are p'tuchot and which are s'tumot are divided with regard to the scrolls on which to rely, I saw fit to write down the entire list of all the passages in the Torah that are s'tumot and p'tuchot, and also the form of the songs. In this manner, all the scrolls can be corrected and checked against these [principles].

The scroll on which I relied on for [clarification of] these matters was a scroll renowned in Egypt, which includes all the 24 books [of the Bible]. It was kept in Jerusalem for many years so that scrolls could be checked from it. Everyone relies upon it because it was corrected by ben Asher, who spent many years writing it precisely, and [afterward] checked it many times.

I relied [on this scroll] when I wrote a Torah scroll according to law.


The Book of Genesis

יהי רקיע יקוו המים יהי מאורות ישרצו המים תוצא הארץ ויכלו אלה תולדות השמים כולן פתוחות והן שבע פרשיות אל האשה אמר ולאדם אמר שתיהן סתומות ויאמר יי' אלהים פתוחה והאדם ידע זה ספר ויחי שת ויחי אנוש ויחי קינן ויחי מהללאל ויחי ירד ויחי חנוך ויחי מתושלח ויחי למך ויחי נח אחת עשרה פרשיות אלו כולן סתומות וירא יי' אלה תולדת נח שתיהן פתוחות ויאמר אלהים לנח וידבר אלהים אל נח ויאמר אלהים אל נח שלשתן סתומות ויהיו בני נח ואלה תולדת בני נח שתיהן פתוחות וכנען ילד ולשם ילד שתיהן סתומות ויהי כל הארץ שפה אחת אלה תולדת שם שתיהן פתוחות וארפכשד חי ושלח חי ויחי עבר ויחי פלג ויחי רעו ויחי שרוג ויחי נחור ויחי תרח כולן סתומות השמונה פרשיות ויאמר יי' אל אברם ויהי רעב ויהי בימי אמרפל שלשתן פתוחות אחר הדברים ושרי אשת אברם ויהי אברם ויאמר אלהים אל אברהם ארבעתן סתומות וירא אליו פתוחה ויסע משם ויי' פקד את שרה שתיהן סתומות ויהי בעת ההוא ויהי אחר ויהי אחרי הדברים ויהיו חיי שרה ארבעתן פתוחות ואברהם זקן סתומה ויסף אברהם ואלה תלדת ישמעאל ואלה תולדת יצחק ויהי רעב ארבעתן פתוחות ויהי עשו ויהי כי זקן יצחק ויצא יעקב שלשתן סתומות וישלח יעקב פתוחה ויבא יעקב ותצא דינה שתיהן סתומות ויאמר אלהים וירא אלהים ויהיו בני יעקב ואלה תלדות עשו ארבעתן פתוחות אלה בני שעיר סתומה ואלה המלכים וישב יעקב ויהי בעת שלשתן פתוחות ויוסף הורד מצרימה סתומה ויהי אחר הדברים ויהי מקץ שתיהן פתוחות: ויגש אליו ואלה שמות ואת יהודה שלשתן סתומות ויהי אחרי הדברים ויקרא יעקב שמעון ולוי יהודה זבולן יששכר כולן פתוחות והן שש דן גד מאשר נפתלי בן פרת יוסף חמשתן סתומות בנימין פתוחה

There are 43 passages that are p'tuchot and 48 passages that are s'tumot, 91 passages in their entirety.


The Book of Exodus

ויקם מלך חדש וילך איש ויהי בימים הרבים שלשתן פתוחות ומשה היה רעה סתומה וילך משה ויאמר יי' אל אהרן שתיהן פתוחות וידבר אלהים אל משה סתומה וידבר יי' אל משה וידבר יי' אל משה ואל אהרן שתיהן פתוחות אלא ראשי בית אבתם וידבר יי' אל משה שתיהן סתומות ויאמר יי' אל משה ראה נתתיך ויאמר יי' אל משה ואל אהרן שתיהן פתוחות ויאמר יי' אל משה כבד לב פרעה ויאמר יי' אל משה אמר אל אהרן שתיהן סתומות ויאמר יי' אל משה בא פתוחה (ויאמר ה' אל משה אמר אל אהרן נטה את ידך) ויאמר ה' אל משה אמר אל אהרן נטה את מטך ויאמר יי' אל משה השכם בבקר (שלשתן) סתומות ויאמר יי' אל משה בא אל פרעה ויאמר יי' אל משה ואל אהרן שתיהן פתוחות ויאמר יי' אל משה השכם סתומה ויאמר יי' אל משה ויאמר יי' אל משה בא אל פרעה שתיהן פתוחות ויאמר יי' אל משה נטה ידך סתומה ויאמר יי' אל משה של ויהי חשך ויאמר של עוד נגע אחד שתיהן פתוחות ויאמר משה ויאמר יי' אל משה ויאמר יי' אל משה ואל אהרן שלשתן סתומות ויקרא משה פתוחה ויהי בחצי הלילה סתומה ויסעו בני ישראל ויאמר יי' אל משה ואהרן שתיהן פתוחות ויהי בעצם סתומה וידבר יי' כו' קדש לי והיה כי יבאך שתיהן פתוחות ויהי בשלח סתומה וידבר יי' וכו' וישבו ויחנו ויאמר יי' אל משה מה תצעק ויאמר יי' נטה את ידך אז ישיר משה ותקח מרים חמשתן פתוחות: ויסע משה ויבאו אילמה ויאמר יי' אל משה הנני ממטיר שלשתן סתומות וידבר יי' אל משה פתוחה ויאמר יי' אל משה סתומה ויסעו כל עדת ויבא עמלק ויאמר יי' אל משה כתב וישמע יתרו בחדש השלישי חמשתן פתוחות וידבר אלהים את כל הדברים אנכי לא תשא שלשתן סתומות זכור פתוחה כבד לא תרצח לא תנאף לא תגנב לא תענה לא תחמד [לא תחמוד] כולן סתומות והן (שש) וכל העם פתוחה ויאמר יי' אל משה סתומה ואלה המשפטים פתוחה וכי ימכר מכה איש וכי יזד ומכה אביו וגנב איש ומכרו ומקלל אביו וכי יריבן אנשים וכי יכה איש וכי ינצו אנשים וכי יכה איש כולן סתומות והן עשר וכי יגח שור פתוחה וכי יפתח וכי יגף כי יגנב איש כי יבער איש כי תצא אש כי יתן כי יתן איש כולם סתומות והן שבע וכי ישאל פתוחה וכי יפתה מכשפה זבח לאלהים שלשתן סתומות אם כסף פתוחה אלהים לא תקלל לא תשא כי תפגע כי תראה לא תטה חמשתן סתומות הנה אנכי פתוחה לא תהיה משכלה סתומה ואל משה אמר פתוחה ויאמר יי' סתומה וידבר יי' פתוחה ועשו ארון סתומה ועשית שלחן ועשית מנרת שתיהן פתוחות ואת המשכן סתומה ועשית את הקרשים פתוחה ועשית פרכת ועשית את המזבח ועשית את חצר המשכן ואתה תצוה ואתה הקרב חמשתן סתומות ועשו את האפד פתוחה ועשית משבצת ועשית חשן ועשית את מעיל ועשית ציץ וזה הדבר וזה אשר תעשה כולן סתומות והן שש: ועשית מזבח וידבר דכי תשא וידבר דועשית כיור וידבר דבשמים ארבעתן פתוחות ויאמר דקח לך סמים וידבר דראה קראתי שתיהן סתומות ויאמר יי' פתוחה ויתן אל משה סתומה וידבר דלך רד ויפן וירד שתיהן פתוחות וידבר דלך עלה מזה סתומה ויאמר משה ויאמר יי' אל משה ויאמר יי' אל משה פסל ויאמר יי' אל משה כתב ארבעתן פתוחות ויקהל משה סתומה ויאמר משה ויאמר משה אל בני ישראל שתיהן פתוחות ויעשו כל חכם לב סתומה ויעש יריעת פתוחה ויעש את הקרשים סתומה ויעש בצלאל ויעש את השלחן ויעש את המנרה ויעש את מזבח הקטרת ארבעתן פתוחות ויעש את מזבח העלה ויעש את הכיור ויעש את החצר אלה פקודי כל הזהב חמשתן סתומות ויעש את האפד פתוחה ויעשו את אבני סתומה ויעש את החשן ויעש את מעיל שתיהן פתוחות ויעשו את הכתנת שש ויעשו את ציץ ותכל שלשתן סתומות ויביאו את המשכן וידבר דביום החדש שתיהן פתוחות ויהי בחדש הראשון ויקח ויתן את השלחן וישם את המנרה וישם את מזבח וישם את מסך וישם את הכיר ויקם את החצר כולן סתומות והן שמנה ויכס הענן פתוחה

There are 69 passages that are p'tuchot and 95 passages that are s'tumot, 164 passages in their entirety.


The Book of Leviticus

ואם מן הצאן סתומה ואם מן העוף פתוחה ונפש כי תקריב וכי תקרב ואם מנחה על המחבת ואם מנחת מרחשת ואם תקריב חמשתן סתומות ואם זבח ואם מן הצאן ואם עז וידבר ואם כל עדת אשר נשיא ואם נפש ואם כבש ונפש כי תחטא כולן פתוחות והן תשע ואם לא תשיג וידבר יי' שתיהן סתומות ואם נפש וידבר דנפש וידבר כו' שלשתן פתוחות וזאת תורת סתומה וידבר דזה קרבן וידבר דדבר אל אהרן וזאת תורת האשם וזאת תורת זבח וידבר דדבר אל בני ישראל המקריב וידבר דקח את אהרן כולן פתוחות והן שש ויהי ביום השמיני סתומה וידבר יי' אל אהרן וידבר משה וידבר יי' אל משה שלשתן פתוחות וזה לכם וכי ימות שתיהן סתומות וידבר דאשה כי תזריע וידבר דאדם כי יהיה נגע צרעת ובשר ארבעתן פתוחות או בשר סתומה ואיש או אשה פתוחה ואיש או אשה כי יהיה בעור בשרם ואיש כי ימרט ראשו והבגד שלשתן סתומות וידבר דזאת תהיה פתוחה ואם דל סתומה וידבר דכי תבאו וידבר דדברו אל בני ישראל שתיהן פתוחות ואיש כי תצא סתומה ואשה כי תהיה פתוחה ואשה כי יזוב סתומה וידבר דאחרי מות וידבר דדבר אל אהרן וידבר דדבר אל בני ישראל שלשתן פתוחות איש איש ערות אביך ערות אשת אביך ערות אחותך ערות בת בנך ערות בת אשת ערות אחות אביך ערות אחות אמך ערות אחי אביך ערות כלתך ערות אשת אחיך ערות אשה ובתה כולן סתומות והן שתים עשרה: וידבר דדבר אל כל עדת וכי תבאו אל שתיהן פתוחות וכי יגור סתומה וידבר דאשר יתן מזרעו ויאמר ה' אל משה אמר אל הכהנים שתיהן פתוחות והכהן הגדול וידבר דדבר אל אהרן שתיהן סתומות וידבר דוינזרו וידבר דדבר אל אהרן ואל בניו שתיהן פתוחות וידבר דשור או כשב או עז סתומה וידבר דדבר אל בני ישראל אלה מועדי ה' וידבר דכי תבאו אל הארץ שלשתן פתוחות וספרתם לכם סתומה וידבר דבחדש השביעי פתוחה וידבר דאך בעשור סתומה וידבר דבחמשה עשר יום וידבר דצו את בני ישראל ולקחת סלת שלשתן פתוחות ויצא בן אשה סתומה וידבר דהוצא את המקלל וידבר דבהר סיני שתיהן פתוחות וספרת לך כי ימוך אחיך ואיש כי ימכר וכי ימוך אחיך וכי ימוך וכי תשיג יד כולן סתומות והם שש אם בחקתי ואם לא תשמעו לי שתיהן פתוחות ואם בזאת סתומה וידבר דאיש כי יפלא פתוחה ואם בהמה סתומה

There are 52 passages that are p'tuchot and 46 passages that are s'tumot, 98 passages in their entirety.


The Book of Numbers

בני ראובן סתומה לבני שמעון לבני גד לבני יהודה לבני יששכר לבני זבולן לבני יוסף לבני מנשה לבני בנימן לבני דן לבני אשר בני נפתלי אלה הפקדים וידבר דאך את מטה לוי וידבר דאיש על דגלו כולן פתוחות והן ארבע עשרה דגל מחנה ראובן ונסע אהל דגל מחנה אפרים דגל מחנה דן ארבעתן סתומות אלה פקודי ואלה תולדת וידבר דהקרב וידבר דואני וידבר דפקד חמשתן פתוחות ולקהת ויאמר דפקד שתיהן סתומות וידבר דקח וידבר דנשא וידבר דאל תכריתו וידבר דנשא ארבעתן פתוחות בני מררי ופקודי בני גרשון שתיהן סתומות וידבר דצו וידבר דאיש או אשה כי יעשו וידבר דאיש כי תשטה וידבר דאיש או אשה כי יפלא וידבר דדבר אל אהרן חמשתן פתוחות יברכך יאר ישא ושמו ויהי ביום כלות משה ויהי המקריב כולן סתומות והן שש ביום השני ביום השלישי ביום הרביעי ביום החמישי ביום הששי ביום השביעי ביום השמיני ביום התשיעי ביום העשירי ביום עשתי עשר יום ביום שנים עשר יום זאת חנכת וידבר דבהעלתך וידבר דקח את הלוים כולן פתוחות והן ארבע עשרה וידבר דזאת אשר ללוים סתומה וידבר דויעשו וידבר דכי יהיה טמא שתיהן פתוחות וביום הקים סתומה וידבר דעשה לך ויהי בשנה השנית שתיהן פתוחות ויאמר משה לחבב ויהי בנסע שתיהן סתומות ויהי העם כמתאננים ויאמר דאפסה לי ויאמר דהיד יי' תקצר ותדבר מרים ארבעתם פתוחות: ויאמר יי' פתאם סתומה ויאמר דואביה וידבר דשלח לך ויאמר דעד אנה ינאצני וידבר דעד מתי וידבר דכי תבאו וידבר דבבאכם פתוחות והן שש וכי תשגו ואם נפש אחת שתיהן סתומות ויהיו בני ישראל במדבר פתוחה ויאמר דמות יומת סתומה ויאמר דועשו להם ויקח קרח שתיהן פתוחות וידבר דהבדלו וידבר דהעלו וידבר דאמר אל אלעזר שלשתן סתומות וילנו פתוחה וידבר דהרמו סתומה וידבר דוקח מאתם ויאמר דהשב ויאמרו בני ישראל שלשתן פתוחות ויאמר יי' אל אהרן סתומה וידבר יי' אל אהרן פתוחה ולבני לוי סתומה וידבר דואל הלוים וידבר דזאת חקת ויבאו בני ישראל וידבר דקח את המטה ארבעתן פתוחות ויאמר דיען לא האמנתם וישלח משה שתיהן סתומות ויסעו מקדש פתוחה וישמע הכנעני סתומה ויסעו מהר ההר פתוחה אז ישיר סתומה וישלח ישראל פתוחה וירא בלק סתומה וישב ישראל וידבר דפינחס וידבר דצרור ויאמר יי' ארבעתן פתוחות בני שמעון בני גד בני יהודה בני יששכר בני זבולן בני יוסף אלה בני אפרים בני בנימן אלה בני דן בני אשר בני נפתלי כולן סתומות והן אחת עשרה: וידבר יי' פתוחה ואלה פקודי הלוי ותקרבנה שתיהן סתומות ויאמר דכן בנות צלפחד ויאמר דעלה שתיהן פתוחות וידבר משה סתומה וידבר דצו וביום השבת ובראשי חדשיכם שלשתן פתוחות ובחדש הראשון וביום הבכורים שתיהן סתומות ובחדש השביעי פתוחה ובעשור ובחמשה עשר וביום השני וביום השלישי וביום הרביעי וביום החמישי וביום הששי וביום השביעי ביום השמיני כולן סתומות והן תשע וידבר משה וידבר יי' שתיהן פתוחות ויצאו משה ואלעזר ויאמר אלעזר ויאמר דשא שלשתן סתומות ומקנה רב פתוחה ויאמרו אם מצאנו ויגשו אליו שתיהן סתומות ויאמר אליהם משה אלה מסעי שתיהן פתוחות וישמע הכנעני וידבר דבערבת שתיהן סתומות וידבר דצו את בני ישראל וידבר דאלה שמות האנשים וידבר דבערבת מואב וידבר דדבר אל בני ישראל ויקרבו ראשי חמשתן פתוחות

There are 92 passages that are p'tuchot and 66 passages that are s'tumot, 158 passages in their entirety.


The Book of Deuteronomy

ויאמר יי' אלי ונפן ונעבר וידבר יי' ויאמר יי' אלי ראה ואתחנן חמשתן סתומות ועתה ישראל כי תוליד בנים אז יבדיל ויקרא משה ארבעתן פתוחות אנכי לא תשא שמור כבד לא תרצח ולא תנאף ולא תגנב ולא תענה ולא תחמד ולא תתאוה את הדברים כולן סתומות והן אחת עשרה שמע ישראל פתוחה והיה כי יביאך לא תנסו כי ישאלך בנך כי יביאך ארבעתן סתומות והיה עקב פתוחה כי תאמר סתומה כל המצוה והיה אם שכח תשכח שמע ישראל בעת ההוא ועתה ישראל חמשתן פתוחות כי הארץ והיה אם שמע כי אם שמר תשמרון ראה אנכי והיה כי יביאך כי ירחיב כי יכרית כולן סתומות והן שבע כי יקום פתוחה כי יסיתך כי תשמע בנים אתם לא תאכל את זה תאכלו כל צפור טהרה כולן סתומות והן שש עשר תעשר פתוחה מקצה שלש שנים מקץ שבע שנים כי יהיה בך אביון כי ימכר לך ארבעתן סתומות כל הבכור שמור את חדש שתיהן פתוחות שבעה שבעת סתומה חג הסכת פתוחה שפטים ושטרים לא תטע לך לא תזבח כי ימצא בקרבך ארבעתן סתומות: כי יפלא פתוחה כי תבא לא יהיה לכהנים וזה יהיה וכי יבא הלוי כי אתה בא כי יכרית כולם סתומות והן שש וכי יהיה איש פתוחה לא תסיג לא יקום עד כי תצא למלחמה כי תקרב אל עיר כי תצור אל עיר חמשתן סתומות כי ימצא חלל פתוחה כי תצא למלחמה כי תהיין לאיש כי יהיה לאיש וכי יהיה באיש לא תראה את שור לא תראה את חמור לא יהיה כלי גבר כולן סתומות והן שבע כי יקרא פתוחה כי תבנה לא תחרש גדלים כי יקח איש אשה ואם אמת היה כי ימצא איש כי יהיה נערה בתולה ואם בשדה ימצא כי ימצא לא יקח איש לא יבא פצוע לא יבא ממזר לא יבא עמוני לא תתעב אדמי כי תצא מחנה לא תסגיר לא תהיה קדשה לא תשיך כי תדר נדר כי תבא בכרם כי תבא בקמת כי יקח איש אשה כי יקח איש אשה חדשה כי ימצא השמר בנגע הצרעת כי תשה ברעך לא תעשק שכיר עני לא יומתו אבות לא תטה כי תקצר כי תחבט כי יהיה ריב כי ישבו אחים כי ינצו אנשים לא יהיה לך בכיסך כולן סתומות והן חמש ושלשים: זכור את אשר עשה והיה כי תבוא שתיהן פתוחות כי תכלה לעשר היום הזה שתיהן סתומות ויצו משה וזקני ישראל פתוחה וידבר משה ויצו משה את העם ארור האיש ארור מקלה ארור מסיג ארור משגה ארור מטה ארור שכב עם כל בהמה ארור שכב עם אחתו ארור שכב עם חתנתו ארור מכה ארור לקח שחד ארור אשר לא יקים כולן סתומות והן שלש עשרה והיה אם שמוע והיה אם לא תשמע שתיהן פתוחות אלא דברי הברית סתומה ויקרא משה אתם נצבים שתיהן פתוחות והיה כי יבאו כי המצוה ראה נתתי שלשתן סתומות וילך משה פתוחה ויקרא משה סתומה ויאמר יי' אל משה הן האזינו השמים ויבא משה וידבר יי' אל משה בעצם וזאת הברכה חמשתן פתוחות וזאת ליהודה סתומה וללוי פתוחה לבנימן וליוסף ולזבולן ולגד ולדן ולאשר ויעל משה כולן סתומות והן שבע:

There are 34 passages in this book that are p'tuchot and 124 passages that are s'tumot, 158 passages in their entirety.

In the entire Torah, there are 290 passages that are p'tuchot and 379 passages that are s'tumot, 669 passages in their entirety.



This is the form for the song Ha'azinu. Each line should have an empty space in the middle as appropriate for a passage that is s'tumah [i.e., a space that can contain nine letters]. Thus, each line will be divided into two. It should be written on 70 lines. These are the words that should appear at the beginning of each line:


האזינו יערף כשעירם כי הצור אל שחת הליי' הלוא זכר שאל בהנחל יצב כי ימצאהו יסבבנהו כנשר יפרש יי' ירכבהו וינקהו חמאת בני ודם שמנת וינבל בתועבת אלהים לא ותשכח מכעס אראה בנים כעסוני בגוי ותיקד ותלהט חצי וקטב עם ומחדרים יונק אשביתה פן ולא ואין יבינו ושנים ויי' ואיבינו ומשדמת אשכלת וראש חתום לעת וחש ועל ואפס צור ישתו יהי ואין מחצתי כי אם אשיב אשכיר מדם הרנינו ונקם

All of the words above are found at the beginning [of the lines]. These are the words that begin the second half of the line and thus appear in the middle of the column:

ותשמע תזל וכרביבים הבו כי צדיק דור עם הוא בינו זקניך בהפרידו למספר יעקב ובתהו יצרנהו על ישאהו ואין ויאכל ושמן עם עם וישמן ויטש יקנאהו יזבחו חדשים צור וירא ויאמר כי הם ואני כי ותאכל אספה מזי ושן מחוץ גם אמרתי לולי פן כי לו איכה אם כי כי ענבמו חמת הלא לי כי כי כי ואמר אשר יקומו ראו אני ואין ואמרתי ותאחז ולמשנאי וחרבי מראש כי וכפר:

The song recited [after the crossing of the Red] Sea should be written in thirty lines. The first line should be written in the usual fashion. Afterward, the remaining lines should be written in the following manner: In one, a space [large enough to contain nine letters] should be left in the middle, and on the following line a space [of this size] should be left in two places, so that the line will be divided in three portions. Thus, [in every line,] there will be a space below writing and writing below a space.

This is its format:

With regard to the entire Torah - both the songs and the remainder of the text - one should plan that one letter be very close to the next. A letter may not, however, touch the following letter, nor should it be positioned very far from it, so that a single word will not appear as two. Rather, there should be a hairbreadth of space between each letter. If one left so much space [between letters] that a child who does not read well sees it as two words, the scroll is disqualified until it is corrected.

Commentary Halacha 1

There are two forms for a passage - The Torah is divided into 669 passages, each containing one or more verses. There are two structures with which they are written: p'tuchah (described in this halachah) and s'tumah (described in the following halachah).

which is written as p'tuchah: - P'tuchah literally means "open." This name is given because an empty space is left on the preceding line.

[One form is used] when one completes [the previous passage] in the midst of the line - as explained below, leaving an empty space large enough to contain nine letters.

Then, one should leave the remainder of the line empty and begin the passage that is p'tuchah at the beginning of the following line. - All the halachic authorities accept the use of this form for a passage written as p'tuchah.

When is [this form] used? When the empty space is large enough to contain nine letters. - In Chapter 7, Halachah 10, the Rambam defines this measure as enough space to write the word רשא three times. In this context, the Beit Yosef (Yoreh De'ah 275) states that, after the fact, a scroll is not disqualified if a space necessary to write nine yuddim is left open.

If, however, the empty space is very small or one concludes [the previous passage] at the end of the line, one should leave one line totally empty and begin the passage that is p'tuchah at the beginning of the third line. - Rabbenu Asher differs, and maintains that, in such an instance, the passage written as p'tuchah should be begun on the second line, but a space large enough to contain nine letters should be left at the beginning of the line.

Because of this difference of opinion, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 275:2) suggests that the scribes structure their text so that the passage that precedes a passage which is p'tuchah always ends in the middle of the line, leaving a space large enough to contain nine letters and one word of the new passage. All authorities agree that this form is setumah. The Ramah adds, however, that if that is not possible, one should write the passage according to the Rambam's decision.

1. S'tumah means "closed."
2. The space must be large enough to contain nine letters.
3. Rabbenu Asher also accepts this as a proper form for a s'tumah passage.
4. There is a debate among the authorities (See Turei Zahav 32:25; Shulchan Aruch HaRav 32:51) if it is necessary that the space of nine letters be left open on a single line or if it is sufficient that the sum total of the space at the end of the previous line and the beginning of the new line be equal to this measure.
5. Rabbenu Asher does not accept the Rambam's opinion on this, and requires different forms in these instances for a passage to be written as s'tumah.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 275:2) maintains that a scribe should structure his text so that all the passages that precede a passage to be written as s'tumah end at the beginning of a line, so that one can leave the required space and fit in one word of the new passage. The Ramah adds, however, that if that is not possible, one should write the passage according to the Rambam's decisions.

6. See Chapter 1, Halachah 16; Chapter 7, Halachot 12-13.
7. The Rambam is referring to the form of the song sung after the crossing of the Red Sea, and the song Ha'azinu. He describes their proper form at the conclusion of the following halachah.

Significantly, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 275:3) rules that, although a Torah scroll is disqualified if one writes either of these two songs in the same form as the rest of the Torah, if one writes them in a way that differs both from the usual form of the Torah and the manner in which these songs are customarily written, the scroll is not necessarily disqualified.

8. In one of his responsa, Rabbenu Asher explains that this is not an absolute statement. The scribe may correct the text by erasing the passage that has been written improperly. Nevertheless, this will not generally be done, because:
a) if the passage contains God's name, it is forbidden to erase it; or b) leaving the required space between passages may cause the space for the passages themselves to be too cramped.

The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 275:1) quotes Rabbenu Asher's opinion.

9. In his introduction to the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam outlines the goals he had in composing the text:

to compose a work that clarifies... the entire Oral Law, setting it in order without question or difficulty... revealing all the laws to the great and the small regarding each and every mitzvah.

The goal of presenting the Oral Law in a form that could be put in practice by every Jew is clearly expressed in these halachot that give precise instructions enabling each individual to compose a kosher Torah scroll.

10. This appears to refer to the scribe Aharon ben Moshe, from the tribe of Asher, who lived in Tiberias in the generation following Rav Sa'adiah Gaon and was renowned for his knowledge of grammar (Shalshelet HaKabbalah).
11. The first passage in each book of the Torah is not mentioned, since it is governed by different rules (Kessef Mishneh). There is some debate among the commentaries concerning the exact text of the Mishneh Torah. Also, there are different traditions regarding several of these passages. Accordingly, today, a scribe should write a scroll based on a Torah scroll that is accepted as correct, and not from this list. 12. See Chapter 1, Halachah 19.
13. Note the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 19.

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Nine

Halacha 1

A Torah scroll should not be written in a way which causes its length to exceed its circumference, or its circumference to exceed its length.

What is the appropriate length? When the scroll is written on g'vil, six handbreadths - i.e., 24 thumbbreadths. When the scroll is written on k'laf, it may be more or less, provided that the length is equal to the circumference. If one wrote a scroll on g'vil less than six handbreadths long and concentrated one's writing, or [wrote a scroll] more than six handbreadths long and spread out one's writing, if the length is equal to the circumference, it has been written in the proper manner.

Halacha 2

The following margins should be left [on each column]: Below the column: four thumbbreadths; above the column: three thumbbreadths; and between each column: two thumbbreadths.

[To allow for these margins,] one should leave an additional thumbbreadth at the beginning and the end of each portion of parchment and room to sew the parchments together. Thus, when one sews all the portions of parchment together, there will be two thumbbreadths between each column throughout the entire scroll.

One should also leave an extra portion of parchment at the beginning and the end of the scroll, to wind around its staves.

All these measures are part of [performing] the mitzvah [in the optimum manner]. If one decreased or increased any of them, [the scroll] is not disqualified.

Halacha 3

How should a person structure the scroll [he is writing] so that its length will be equal to its circumference? He should begin by making equal portions of parchment, each having a standard width of six handbreadths.

Afterwards, he should wind the parchments, each in the same manner, making one tight coil. He should continue adding to the coil, winding the parchments tightly until the circumference of the coil is six handbreadths, the width of the parchment. He should measure with a red cord that [is long enough] to surround the entire coil.

Halacha 4

Afterwards, one should make a measuring rod, forty or fifty thumbbreadths long. Each thumbbreadth on the rod should be divided into halves, thirds, and quarters, so that it will be possible to have exact measurements, including even half and quarter thumbbreadths.

One should measure each piece of parchment with this rod to determine its length in thumbbreadths. In this manner, one can calculate the length in thumbbreadths of the entire coil.

Halacha 5

Afterwards, one should take two or three other parchments [as an experiment] to check the size of one's writing. One should write a [sample] column.

It is obvious that the length of the column [used for the writing] will be seventeen thumbbreadths, since three thumbbreadths are left for a margin above the column and four thumbbreadths are left for a margin below. The width of the column, however, varies according to the thickness of one's writing. Similarly, the number of lines within each column varies according to the writing. The space of a line should be left between each two lines.

Halacha 6

After one writes the experimental column as one desires, one should measure the column with the rod. Then one should add the two thumbbreadths to be left between columns and calculate the number of columns one will have in the entire coil [should one continue] using the same [size] writing.

Once one knows the number of columns [for which there is space in the coil], one should calculate according to the scroll from which one is writing whether the entire Torah will be able to be contained in the number of columns there are in the coil based on this [size] writing.

If the entire Torah can be contained within this number of columns, [the scroll] will be [written in the] desired [fashion]. If, according to one's calculations, there are more columns than necessary to contain the Torah, one should write with a broader script, so that fewer columns will be included. One should write another [experimental] column [and recalculate until the calculations are resolved].

If, according to one's calculations, there are fewer columns than necessary to contain the Torah, one should write with a thinner script, so that more columns will be included. One should write another [experimental] column and recalculate until the calculations are resolved.

Halacha 7

After one knows the width of the column and the measure of one's writing, one takes the coil [of parchment] and divides each parchment into columns according to the [size of the] column with which one experimented and made the [above] calculation, ruling each column. When more than three or four fingerbreadths remain after the final column [which fits onto] the portion of parchment, one should leave only a thumbbreadth and the space necessary to sew it and cut off the rest.

One need not worry that, ultimately, additional parchments will have to be added to the coil to compensate for the portions which were cut off. This is not a factor of circumstance, because the writing will cause [the size of the scroll] to be extended [only] according to the number of columns [originally calculated].

Halacha 8

Similarly, if one desires to make the width of the scroll more than six [thumbbreadths] or less than six [thumbbreadths], one should follow similar calculations. Thus, the length of the scroll will be equal to the circumference, neither less nor more, provided one does not err in his calculations.

Halacha 9

The thumbbreadth mentioned in all these calculations - and in all other Torah measurements - refers to the width of a normal person's thumb. We have calculated this measure precisely and found it to be equal to the width of seven average barley-corns when placed next to each other in a cramped manner. This is equivalent to the length of two barley-corns amply spaced apart.

Whenever the term "handbreadth" is mentioned, it refers to four of these thumbbreadths. Whenever the term cubit is mentioned, it refers to six handbreadths.

Halacha 10

In the Torah scroll which I wrote, the width of each column was four thumbbreadths [with the exception of the] columns on which the Song of the Red Sea and the song Ha'azinu were written; they were six thumbbreadths wide. There were 51 lines in each column and 226 columns in the entire scroll. [In its entirety,] the scroll was approximately 1366 thumbbreadths long.

Halacha 11

The six thumbbreadths beyond the number that one would arrive at by calculation were used for the margin of the scroll left at the beginning and the end. I wrote the scroll from parchment made from ram skin.

Should one desire to write a scroll using these measurements or deviating from them only slightly - i.e., adding or subtracting two or three columns, there is no necessity to trouble oneself with calculations; without any difficulty one will have a scroll whose length is equal to its circumference.

Halacha 12

One should not write fewer than three columns on a piece of parchment, nor [should one write] more than eight columns. If one has a piece of parchment large enough to contain nine columns, one should divide it in two, one portion containing five columns, and one portion four columns.

When does the above apply? At the beginning of the scroll or in the middle. At the end of the scroll, however, even if there is one verse in one column, that column may be written on a separate piece of parchment and sewn together with the other parchments.

Halacha 13

When one sews the parchments together, one should use only sinews from a kosher species of animal or beast. [Sinews taken from] animals which died without being ritually slaughtered or which were killed by wild beasts [are, nevertheless, acceptable].

This is a halachah transmitted to Moses on Mount Sinai. Therefore, if one did not sew them with sinews, or used sinews from a non-kosher animal, the scroll is unacceptable until one removes the threads and sews them again.

Halacha 14

When sewing all the pieces of parchment together, one should not sew the entire length of the parchment. Rather, one should leave a certain portion unsewn on both the top and bottom of the parchment, so that the parchment will not tear in the middle when the Torah is rolled.

Two staves of wood should be made for a [Torah scroll], one at the beginning and one at the end. One should sew the parchment left over at the beginning and the end [of the scrolls] to these staves with sinews, so that it can be rolled around [these staves]. Space should be left between the staves and the columns of writing.

Halacha 15

When a tear in a Torah scroll is contained within two lines, [it is sufficient to] sew [the tear]. If it [extends to] three [or more], [it] should not be sewn.

When does the above apply? With regard to an old Torah scroll which one cannot recognize as having been processed with gallnut juice. If, however, one can recognize that the parchment was processed with gallnut juice, one may sew it, even if the tear extends to three [lines]. Similarly, [if there is a tear] between columns or between words, one may sew it.

All these tears may be sewn only with the sinews which are used to sew the parchments together. When sewing, one must be careful that a single letter is not omitted or has its form distorted.

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Ten

Halacha 1

Thus, it can be concluded that there are twenty factors that - each in its own right - can disqualify a Torah scroll. If a scroll contains one of these factors, it does not have the sanctity of a Torah scroll, but rather is considered like a chumash used to teach children. It may not be used for a public Torah reading.

They are:
a) that the scroll was written on parchment from a non-kosher animal;
b) that the scroll was written on parchment from a kosher animal that was not processed;
c) [that the scroll was written on parchment] that was not processed with the intention that it be used for a Torah scroll;
d) that it was written on [the side of the parchment] that is not appropriate for writing; i.e., on g'vil on the side of the flesh, and on k'laf on the side of the hair;
e) that a portion was written on g'vil and a portion on k'laf;
f) that it was written on duchsustos;
g) that it was written on unruled [parchment];
h) that it was written with [an ink] other than a black ink that remains [without fading];
i) that it was written in a language other [than L'shon HaKodesh];
j) that it was written by a nonbeliever or others whose writing is not acceptable;
k) that the names of God were not written with the proper intention;
l) that even a single letter was omitted;
m) that even a single letter was added;
n) that one letter touches another;
o) that the form of a letter is distorted so that it cannot be read, or so that it would be read as another letter. This applies regardless of whether the distortion was caused by the original writing, a perforation, a tear, or an erasure;
p) that additional space was left between letters, so that a word would appear as two words, or that too little space was left between words, so that two words appear as one;
q) that the form of the passages was altered;
r) that the form of the songs was altered;
s) that other passages were written in the form of the songs;
t) that the parchments were sewn together using [thread made from anything other] than animal sinews.


Any other factors were mentioned only as the most proper way of fulfilling the mitzvah and are not absolute requirements.

Halacha 2

A proper Torah scroll is treated with great sanctity and honor. It is forbidden for a person to sell a Torah scroll even if he has nothing to eat. [This prohibition applies] even if he possesses many scrolls or if he [desires to] sell an old scroll in order to purchase a new one.

A Torah scroll may never be sold except for two purposes:
a) to use the proceeds to study Torah;
b) to use the proceeds to marry.
[Even in these instances, permission to sell is granted only] when the person has nothing else to sell.

Halacha 3

A Torah scroll that has become worn or disqualified should be placed in an earthenware container and buried next to a Torah sage. This is the manner in which it should be entombed.

The mantle of a scroll that has become worn should be used to make shrouds for a corpse that has no one to bury it. This is the manner in which it should be entombed.

Halacha 4

The [following] are all considered to be sacred articles: a container that was prepared to be used for a Torah scroll and within which a scroll had actually been placed, and similarly, a mantle, a movable ark or cabinet in which a Torah scroll is placed - [this applies] even though the scroll is within its container - and similarly, a chair that was prepared for a Torah scroll to be placed upon it and upon which a scroll had actually been placed. They are forbidden to be discarded. Instead, when they become worn out or broken, they should be entombed.

In contrast, the platform on which the chazan stands while holding the Torah scroll and tablets used for the instruction of children are not sacred in nature.

Similarly, the decorative silver and gold pomegranates that are made for a Torah scroll are considered sacred articles and may not be used for mundane purposes, unless they were sold with the intention of purchasing a Torah scroll or chumash with the proceeds.

Halacha 5

It is permissible to place a Torah scroll on another Torah scroll and, needless to say, upon chumashim.Chumashim may be placed upon books of the Prophets or of the Sacred Writings. In contrast, books of the Prophets or the Sacred Writings may not be placed on chumashim, nor may chumashim be placed on Torah scrolls.

All sacred writings, even texts of Torah law and allegories, may not be thrown. It is forbidden to enter a lavatory wearing a amulet containing verses from the sacred writings unless it is covered with leather.

Halacha 6

A person should not enter a bathhouse, lavatory, or cemetery while holding a Torah scroll, even if it is covered by a mantle and placed in its container. He should not read from the scroll until he moves four cubits away from the corpse or from the lavatory.

A person should not hold a Torah scroll while naked. It is forbidden to sit on a couch on which a Torah scroll is placed.

Halacha 7

It is forbidden to engage in intimate relations in a room where a Torah scroll is located, until one either:
a) removes the scroll;
b) places it in a container, and then places that container in a container that is not intended for it. If, however, the container is intended for it, even ten containers, one over the other, are considered as a single entity; or
c) constructs a divider at least ten handbreadths high.

[The above applies] only when there is no other room available. If there is another room available, one may not engage in intimate relations unless one removes the Torah scroll.

Halacha 8

Any impure person, even [a woman in] a niddah state or a gentile, may hold a Torah scroll and read it. The words of Torah do not contract ritual impurity. This applies when one's hands are not soiled or dirty with mud. [In the latter instance,] one should wash one's hands and then touch the scroll.

Halacha 9

Whenever a person sees a Torah scroll being carried, he must stand before it. Everyone should remain standing until the person holding the scroll reaches his destination and stands still, or until they can no longer see the scroll. Afterward, they are permitted to sit.

Halacha 10

It is a mitzvah to designate a special place for a Torah scroll and to honor it and glorify it in an extravagant manner. The words of the Ten Commandments are contained in each Torah scroll.

A person should not spit before a Torah scroll, reveal his nakedness before it, take off his footwear before it, or carry it on his head like a burden. He should not turn his back to a Torah scroll unless it is ten handbreadths higher than he is.

Halacha 11

A person who was journeying from one place to another with a Torah scroll should not place the Torah scroll in a sack, load it on a donkey, and then ride on [the beast]. If, however, he is afraid of thieves, it is permissible. If there is no danger, he should carry it in his bosom while riding the animal, and journey [onward].

Anyone who sits before a Torah scroll should sit with respect, awe, and fear, because [the Torah] is a faithful testimony [of the covenant between God and the Jews] for all the inhabitants of the earth, as [Deuteronomy 31:26] states: "And it will be as a testimony for you."

A person must honor a Torah scroll [to the full extent] of his potential. The Sages of the early generations said: "Whoever desecrates the Torah will have his person desecrated by people. Whoever honors the Torah will have his person honored by people."

Blessed be God who offers assistance.

Commentary Halacha 1

Thus, it can be concluded that there are twenty factors that - each in its own right - can disqualify a Torah scroll. If a scroll contains one of these factors, it does not have the sanctity of a Torah scroll, but rather is considered like a chumash used to teach children - i.e., although it is still considered to be a sacred text, it does not have the same degree of holiness as a Torah scroll. (See also Chapter 7, Halachah 14, and Hilchot Tefillah 11:14.)

It may not be used for a public Torah reading. - There is an apparent contradiction between this ruling and one of the Rambam's responsa, which states:

It is permitted to recite a blessing when reading from a Torah scroll that has been invalidated. This practice was carried out in the presence of the geonim, Rav Yosef HaLevi and Rav Yitzchak Alfasi, without protest....
The blessing is not dependent on the scroll from which the scroll is read... but on the reading itself....

The Kessef Mishneh attempts to resolve this difficulty, explaining that the responsum deals with a circumstance when there is no proper Torah scroll available. In contrast, the decision rendered here is a priori in nature (לכתחילה) The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 143:2-3), however, rules that a blessing may not be recited on such a scroll. See also Hilchot Tefillah 12:23.

They are: a) that the scroll was written on parchment from a non-kosher animal; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 10.

b) that the scroll was written on parchment from a kosher animal that was not processed; - See Chapter 1, Halachot 6-9 and 14.

c) [that the scroll was written on parchment] that was not processed with the intention that it be used for a Torah scroll - See Chapter 1, Halachah 11.

d) that it was written on [the side of the parchment] that is not appropriate for writing; i.e., on g'vil on the side of the flesh and on k'laf on the side of the hair; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 9.

e) that a portion was written on g'vil and a portion on k'laf; - See Chapter 7, Halachah 4.

f) that it was written on duchsustos; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 9

g) that it was written on unruled [parchment]; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 12, and Chapter 7, Halachah 4.

h) that it was written with [an ink] other than a black ink that remains [without fading]; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 5.

i) that it was written in a language other [than L'shon HaKodesh]; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 19.

j) that it was written by a nonbeliever or others whose writing is not acceptable; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 13.

k) that the names of God were not written with the proper intention; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 15.

l) that even a single letter was omitted; m) that even a single letter was added; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 2, and Chapter 7, Halachah 9.

n) that one letter touches another; - See Chapter 1, Halachah 19, and the conclusion of Chapter 8.

o) that the form of a letter is distorted, so that it cannot be read, or so that it would be read as another letter. This applies regardless of whether the distortion was caused by the original writing, a perforation, a tear, or an erasure; - See Chapter 1, Halachot 19-20; Chapter 7, Halachah 9; and Chapter 9, Halachah 15.

p) that additional space was left between letters, so that a word would appear as two words, or that too little space was left between words, so that two words appear as one; - See the conclusion of Chapter 8.

q) that the form of the passages; - i.e., one wrote a passage that should have appeared p'tuchah as s'tumah, or vice versa

was altered; - See Chapter 8, Halachah 3.

r) that the form of the songs; - the song of the Red Sea and the song Ha'azinu

was altered; - See Chapter 8, ibid.

s) that other passages were written in the form of the songs - See Chapter 7, Halachah 11.

t) that the parchments were sewn together using [thread made from anything other] than animal sinews.; - See Chapter 9, Halachah 13.

Any other factors were mentioned only as the most proper way of fulfilling the mitzvah and are not absolute requirements. - Sefer Kovetz adds one more disqualification: that a Torah scroll was written with half of God's name within the line and half added outside the line (Chapter 1, Halachah 16).

Commentary Halacha 2

A proper Torah scroll is treated with great sanctity and honor. - This general principle is the foundation for the remaining halachot in this chapter.

It is forbidden for a person to sell a Torah scroll even if he has nothing to eat. - The Rambam's words (quoted from Megillah 27a) should not be taken absolutely literally. Surely, if a person is in danger of dying of hunger, he may sell a Torah scroll. Rather, this refers to an instance when a person lacks a source of income and is required to sustain himself from charity (Kessef Mishneh). (See also Ramah, Yoreh De'ah 270:1; Siftei Cohen 270:2.)

[This prohibition applies] even if he possesses many scrolls or if he [desires to] sell an old scroll in order to purchase a new one. - Rabbenu Manoach explains that the reason for the latter ruling is that, despite one's resolve, circumstances may arise, and ultimately, one may never buy the new scroll. Accordingly, if the new scroll has already been completed and an agreement concluded, the old scroll may be sold. The Siftei Cohen 270:3, however, forbids a sale even under these circumstances. (Compare to Hilchot Tefillah 11:12.)

A Torah scroll may never be sold except for two purposes: - Tosafot (Bava Batra 8b) states that a Torah scroll may also be sold to redeem captives. From Hilchot Matnot Ani'im 8:10-11, it appears questionable whether the Rambam would accept this point.

a) to use the proceeds to study Torah; - for Torah study leads to the performance of mitzvot. This is the purpose of a person's life (Megillah, ibid.).

b) to use the proceeds to marry. - An unmarried person leads an unstable, unsatisfied existence (Megillah, ibid.).

[Even in these instances, permission to sell is granted only] when the person has nothing else to sell. - Megillah, ibid., states that a person will never see any blessings from the proceeds of this sale. See also Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 282:18), which quotes a debate whether a person is allowed to use the proceeds of the sale for his personal use.
1. Thus, it will be preserved (Megillah 26b).
2. The precise translation of the term mitpachat is a matter of question. Among the alternative translations that appear possible from different Talmudic sources are the curtains hanging on the ark, clothes placed within the ark on which the scrolls are placed, the cloth on which the Torah is placed on the reading platform, and the sash used to tie the Torah closed.
3. In Hilchot Eivel 3:8, the Rambam discusses the laws regarding a corpse that has no one to bury it. Here, however, the term appears to refer to a poor person whose family cannot afford shrouds. (See Mishnah Berurah 154:21).
4. The Beit Yosef (Yoreh De'ah 282) states that although this ruling allows a person to use a mantle for this purpose, there is no obligation to entomb it in this fashion. It may be buried with other sacred articles.
5. The Rambam is alluding to the concepts mentioned in Chapter 4, Halachah 9, that for an article to be considered as sacred in nature, it must have been made for a holy intent and actually used for that purpose. The container he mentions refers to the Sephardic custom in which a Torah scroll is held in a wooden or metal box.
6. Our translation follows Rav Kapach's commentary, which explains that a teivah is a movable ark with a flat roof; a migdal, a movable ark with a slanted roof. Others have noted that the termmigdal could refer to the permanent ark described in Hilchot Tefillah 11:2-3.
7. When two scrolls are taken out for the communal Torah reading, one is placed on this chair while the other is being read. Many authorities require the second scroll to be held by a person while the first scroll is being read.
8. See Hilchot Tefillah 11:3.
9. This would appear to refer to tablets used to teach children to read. If the tablets contain a Biblical verse, they also must be treated as sacred articles.
10. They do not have the same level of holiness as a Torah scroll. They are endowed - as are all elements of a synagogue - with a certain dimension of holiness, as explained in Hilchot Tefillah 11:15.
11. If, when purchasing these articles, the congregation or donors made a stipulation that they could ultimately be used for mundane purposes, it is permitted to do so. (See Hilchot Tefillah, ibid.; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 154:8.)
12. This applies to scrolls on which between one and four of the five books of the Torah are written, and not to printed texts.
13. Books of the Prophets and the Sacred Writings may be placed upon each other without distinction.
Note the Turei Zahav 282:13, which states that it is forbidden to use one sacred text as a prop for another one.
14. From Eruvin 98a and Soferim 3:12, it would appear that the meaning of this statement is that one should hand sacred texts to a colleague rather than throw them. Nevertheless, there are authorities who also interpret this as a prohibition against wantonly discarding the texts. (See also Hilchot Yesodei Torah 6:8 and commentary.)
15. See Chapter 4, Halachah 17, which explains these concepts with regard to tefillin. Although the passages in tefillin are covered by leather, there are distinct differences between them and these amulets:
a) The compartments of the tefillin are also holy and are made for the specific purpose of holding the tefillin. Therefore, they are not considered to be a container. See Halachah 7 (Kinat Eliyahu).
b) The shin - one of the letters of God's name - is embossed on the tefillin (Rabbenu Manoach).

Commentary Halacha 6

A person should not enter a bathhhouse, lavatory, - since it is unbecoming to bring a Torah scroll into such places. (See also Chapter 7, Halachah 3.)

or cemetery while holding a Torah scroll - It is forbidden to perform mitzvot next to a corpse or in a cemetery, because by doing so, one appears to be mocking the dead, who cannot serve God in this manner (Berachot 18a). Holding a Torah scroll itself fulfills a mitzvah even when one does not study from it (Kessef Mishneh).

even if it is covered by a mantle and placed in its container. - As explained in the previous and the following halachot, a Torah scroll that is covered by its usual containers is considered as if it is openly revealed.

He should not read from the scroll until he moves four cubits away from the corpse - See Chapter 4, Halachah 23; Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:2.

or from the lavatory. - See Chapter 4, Halachah 17; Hilchot Kri'at Shema 3:8.

There are certain versions of the Mishneh Torah that state: "until he moves four cubits away from the corpse, bathhouse, or lavatory." Since the Rambam does not mention the obligation of moving away from a bathhouse in Chapter 4 or in Chapter 3 of Hilchot Kri'at Shema, we can assume that he does not feel that it is necessary, and that as soon as one steps outside of the bathhouse he may recite words of Torah.

A person should not hold a Torah scroll while naked. - Megillah 32a states: "A person who holds a Torah scroll while naked is buried naked." Noting the difficulty with the simple interpretation of this statement, the Talmud interprets it to mean, "buried naked of the merit of this mitzvah."

Our translation follows the Bnei Binyamin, who interprets "naked" as modifying "a person," and not the scroll. There are authorities who interpret the Talmud's statement to mean that one should not hold a Torah scroll while the scroll is uncovered. See the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 147:1). Note also the Noda BiYhudah (Orach Chayim, Responsum 7), who discusses the Rambam's perspective on this law. (See Hilchot Sha'ar Avot HaTum'ah 9:5; the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Yadayim 3:3.)

It is forbidden to sit on a couch on which a Torah scroll is placed. - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 3:5) relates that Rabbi Eliezer accidentally sat down on a couch on which a Torah scroll was placed. When he discovered it, he recoiled in shock as if facing a snake.

The Siftei Cohen 282:8 relates that this law does not apply if the Torah scroll is placed on another article that lifts it up at least a handbreadth (three handbreadths is more desirable) above the couch. The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 282:7) states that the same restriction applies to other sacred texts as well. (See also Siftei Cohen 282:9.)
16. See Chapter 4, Halachah 24.
17. Significantly, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 282:8) does not accept the Rambam's view on this issue and forbids relations under these circumstances. Placing a sacred article in two containers is sufficient for tefillin or other sacred texts, but not for a Torah scroll.
18. The Pit'chei Teshuvah 282:10 states that a curtain is not acceptable as a divider.

19. Note a slightly different application of this concept in Hilchot Kri'at Shema 4:8.

20. Kiddushin 33b states: If we stand in honor of a Torah sage, surely we should stand before the Torah itself. (Compare to the laws governing standing before a sage, Hilchot Talmud Torah 5:7, 6:1.)
21. Note the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 149:1), which states that after the Torah is read, it is customary to accompany it back to where it is kept.

22. This applies to the construction of an ark. Wherever a Torah scroll is held, in a home as well as a synagogue, such a structure should be built.
23. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 282:1) emphasizes that "it" refers to the place of the Torah scroll. The ark must be treated with honor.
24. Our translation follows the standard published text of the Mishneh Torah. Other versions read, "stretch out one's feet before it."

25. The proof-text chosen by the Rambam is somewhat difficult. It states that the Torah will be "testimony for you," while previously he spoke of its being "testimony for all the inhabitants of the earth." This difficulty can be resolved by interpreting the proof-text, "It will be testimony about you" - i.e., the Torah will be testimony to all the inhabitants of the world that an essential bond exists between God and the Jewish people. The awareness that the Torah communicates this concept should naturally, without effort, bring a person to "sit with respect, awe, and fear" in the presence of a Torah scroll (Likkutei Sichot, Shavuot 5747).
26. Avot 4:6. Significantly, in his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam interprets this statement slightly differently.
27. גופו translated as "person," literally means "body." Honoring a Torah scroll, the body of the Torah as it were, will bring honor to one's physical being.
28. The Rambam reverses the order of the Mishnah in order to conclude positively.

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