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Monday, 22 Adar 5773 / March 4, 2013

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Five, Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Six, Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Seven

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Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Five

Halacha 1

How is a mezuzah written? The two portions, Shema and V'hayah im shamo'a, are written on one piece of parchment in a single column. Approximately half a fingernail of space should be left above and below [the writing].

Should one write [a mezuzah] in two or three columns, it is acceptable, as long as it not written tail-shaped, in a circle, or tent-shaped. If it was written using any of these forms, it is not acceptable.

If it was not written in order - e.g., one wrote the passage [V'hayah im shamo'a] before the passage [Shema] - it is not acceptable. If one writes a mezuzah on two different parchments, it is not acceptable even if they were sewn together [later].

A mezuzah should not be made from a Torah scroll or tefillin that have become worn, nor should a mezuzah be written on the empty parchment from a Torah scroll, because one should not lower an article from a higher level of holiness to a lesser one.

Halacha 2

It is a mitzvah to leave a space between the passage Shema and the passage V'hayah im shamo'a, as if it were s'tumah. If space were left as if it were p'tuchah, it is acceptable, since these passages do not follow each other in the Torah.

One must take care regarding the crowns [on the letters] in a mezuzah. The following letters should have crowns.

Halacha 3

In the first passage, there are seven letters which should each have three zeiynin upon it. They are: The shin and the ayin of [the word] Shema, the nun of [the word] nafsh'cha, the two zeiynin of [the word] mezuzot, and the two tettin of the word totafot.

In the second passage, there are six letters each of which should have three zeiynin upon it. They are: The gimmel of [the word] d'ganecha, the two zeiynin of [the word] mezuzot, the two tettin of the word totafot, and the tzadi of [the word] ha'aretz.

If no crowns were made, or one increased or decreased their number, [the mezuzah] is not invalidated. If the mezuzah was not written on ruled [parchment], if [the scribe] was not exact with regard to the use of the full or short form [of the words, or if [the scribe] added even a single letter inside [the mezuzah], it is invalidated.

Halacha 4

It is a common custom to write [God's name,] Shaddai, on the outside of a mezuzah opposite the empty space left between the two passages. There is no difficulty in this, since [the addition is made] outside.

Those, however, who write the names of angels, other sacred names, verses, or forms, on the inside [of a mezuzah] are among those who do not have a portion in the world to come. Not only do these fools nullify the mitzvah, but furthermore, they make from a great mitzvah [which reflects] the unity of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, the love of Him, and the service of Him, a talisman for their own benefit. They, in their foolish conception, think that this will help them regarding the vanities of the world.

Halacha 5

It is a mitzvah to write al ha'aretz on the final line [of a mezuzah], either at the beginning or in the middle of the line. It has become universally accepted custom for scribes to write [mezuzot] with 22 lines, with al ha'aretz at the beginning of the final line.

These are the letters that appear at the beginning of each line in order: shema, י-ה-ו-ה, hadevarim, l'vanecha, uv'shochbicha, beyn, v'hayah, m'tzaveh, b'chol, yoreh, esev, pen, v'hishtachavitem, hashamayim, va'avad'tem, v'samtem, otam, otam, baderech, uvish'arecha, asher, al ha'aretz13.

Halacha 6

When [a mezuzah] is folded, it should be rolled from the end of the line to its beginning so that when a reader rolls it open, he will be able to read from the beginning of the line to the end.

After rolling it, one should place it in a tube made of reed, wood, or any other substance and affix it to the doorpost of one's entrance with a nail. Alternatively, one should hollow out the doorpost and place the mezuzah within.

Halacha 7

Before affixing it on the doorpost of the entrance, one should recite the blessing: "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to affix a mezuzah."

One should not recite a blessing when writing [the mezuzah], because affixing it fulfills the mitzvah.

Halacha 8

If one suspends [a mezuzah] within a pole, it is unacceptable, because it has not been affixed. If one positions it behind the door, it is as if one has done nothing.

Should one hollow out the doorpost and place a mezuzah within it horizontally, as the rods were put through the rings [in the Sanctuary], it is unacceptable. Should one place it deeper than a handbreadth [within the doorpost], it is unacceptable.

Should one cut a reed in half and insert a mezuzah within, and afterwards connect this reed with other reeds, making a doorpost for the house from them, it is unacceptable, because the affixing of the mezuzah preceded the making of the doorpost of the entrance.

Halacha 9

A mezuzah [placed] on private [property] should be checked twice in seven years, and a mezuzah [placed] on public [property] should be checked twice in fifty years, lest a letter have become torn or faded. Since it is affixed within a wall, there is the possibility that it will decay.

Halacha 10

Everyone is obligated [to fulfill the mitzvah of] mezuzah, even women and slaves. Minors should be educated to affix a mezuzah to [the doors of] their homes.

A person who rents a dwelling in the diaspora, and a person who rents a room in a hotel in Eretz Yisrael, are exempt from the obligation [to affix a] mezuzah for thirty days. One who rents a house in Eretz Yisrael, however, is obligated [to affix a] mezuzah immediately.

Halacha 11

When a person rents a dwelling to a colleague, the tenant is obligated to obtain a mezuzah and affix it. [This applies] even if he would pay to have it affixed. [The rationale is] that a mezuzah is an obligation incumbent on the person dwelling [in the house], and is not incumbent on the house.

When [the tenant] leaves [the dwelling, however], he should not take it with him unless the dwelling belongs to a gentile. In that instance, he should remove it when he leaves.

Commentary Halacha 1

How is a mezuzah written? - Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 15) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 423) consider the mitzvah of mezuzah to be one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

The two portions, Shema and V'hayah im shamo'a, are written on one piece of parchment in a single column. - The Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 1:9) states that unlike a Torah scroll or tefillin, a mezuzah should be written in a single column.

Approximately half a fingernail of space - approximately one centimeter

should be left above and below [the writing]. - Also, a small amount of parchment should be left on the right side for the mezuzah to be rolled closed (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 288:1).

Should one write [a mezuzah] in two or three columns, it is acceptable - although this is not the desired form

as long as it not written tail-shaped - i.e., wider above than below, the top lines being longer than the bottom ones

in a circle - This word is not found in our text of Menachot 31b, the source for this halachah.

or tent-shaped - i.e., wider below than above, the bottom lines being longer than the top ones.

If it was written using any of these forms, it is not acceptable. - Menachot 31b.

If it was not written in order - e.g., one wrote the passage [V'hayah im shamo'a] before the passage [Shema] - it is not acceptable. - Furthermore, if even one letter from a mezuzah was not written in order, the mezuzah is unacceptable (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 288:3).

The Ginat Veradim suggests that the Rambam requires only that the order of the two passages not be reversed, but is not concerned with the order of the letters within the passages themselves. This perspective, however, is not accepted by other authorities, who explain that surely, the Rambam requires order within the passages. He gave the above example only because he felt that it was more important to emphasize that even if the passages themselves were written in order, if their order was reversed, the mezuzah is not acceptable.

If one writes a mezuzah on two different parchments, it is not acceptable even if they were sewn together [later]. - In his Responsa (213), Rabbi Akiva Eiger writes that if the parchments were sewn together before the passages were written upon them, the mezuzah is acceptable.

A mezuzah should not be made from a Torah scroll - i.e., one may not cut the passage, Shema, from a worn Torah scroll and write the passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, on the empty space below it. One may not cut both passages from the Torah scroll since, as explained above, a mezuzah may not be written on two different parchments (Siftei Cohen, Yoreh De'ah 290:1).

or tefillin that have become worn - Though it is possible to cut the two passages from the arm tefillin, it is forbidden to do so.

nor should a mezuzah be written on the empty parchment from a Torah scroll - the empty parchment left as a border above and on the sides of the Torah scroll. The Or Sameach notes thatShabbat 116a questions whether or not these empty portions of parchment have become sanctified with the holiness of a Torah scroll, and does not resolve the issue. Because of the doubt involved, the Rambam rules that in situations where the question of their holiness is raised, one should always take the more stringent perspective. Therefore, in Hilchot Shabbat 23:27, the Rambam rules that they should not be saved from a fire on the Sabbath if the violation of even a Rabbinic transgression is involved (accepting the possibility that they have not become consecrated). In this halachah, this approach requires accepting the possibility that they have been consecrated.

because one should not lower an article from a higher level of holiness - As explained in Chapter 10, Halachot 2-5 (see also Hilchot Tefillah 11:14), the holiness of a Torah scroll surpasses that of all other articles.

to a lesser one. - Our Sages have established the principle, "One may ascend to a higher level of holiness, but may not descend to a lower one."

Commentary Halacha 2

It is a mitzvah to leave a space between the passage, Shema, and the passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, as if it were s'tumah. - S'tumah means "closed." According to the Rambam, it refers to a passage whose first word is always written in the middle of a line in the Torah. See Chapter 8, Halachah 2. In the Torah, V'hayah im shamo'a is s'tumah.

If space were left as if it were p'tuchah - P'tuchah means "open." According to the Rambam, it refers to a passage whose first word is always written at the beginning of a line in the Torah. See Chapter 8, Halachah 1.

it is acceptable, since these passages do not follow each other in the Torah. - Note the contrast between this ruling and the Rambam's decision in Chapter 2, Halachah 2, regarding tefillin: "If one wrote a passage which should be s'tumah as p'tuchah or a passage which should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, it is unacceptable."

The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 32) explains the difference as follows: In tefillin, there are passages which follow directly after each other in the Torah. Therefore, all the passages must be written as they appear in a Torah scroll. In contrast, the two passages contained in a mezuzah do not follow each other in the Torah. Therefore, there is no absolute requirement for the passages to be written as they appear in the Torah.

One must take care regarding the crowns - See Chapter 2, Halachot 8-9 and Chapter 7, Halachot 8-9.

[on the letters] in a mezuzah. The following letters should have crowns. - The Rambam lists the letters in the following halachah. Significantly, the letters he mentions here are not the same as he mentions in Chapter 2 with regard to tefillin. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 288:7) rules that, in a mezuzah, just as in a Torah, one should place crowns on the letters, שעטנ"ז ג"ץ
1. In Chapter 2, Halachah 6, the Rambam writes that, when writing tefillin, the ayin of the word Shema and the dalet of the word echad should be enlarged as in a Torah scroll. It is customary to write these letters in the same manner in mezuzot.
2. As mentioned in the commentary on Chapter 2, Halachah 9, based on Rabbenu Asher's opinion, it is proper to add crowns if they have been omitted from the appropriate letters in a mezuzah.
3. See Chapter 1, Halachah 12, where this subject is discussed.
4. See Chapter 2, Halachot 6-7.
5. Making additions on the outside of the mezuzah is discussed in the following halachah.
6. Similarly, if a single letter is forgotten, the mezuzah is invalid (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 288:3). .

Commentary Halacha 4

It is a common custom to write [G-d's name,] Shaddai - This name serves as an acronym for the Hebrew words, שומר דלתות ישראל, "Guardian of the gates of Israel" (Mishnat Chassidim).

on the outside of a mezuzah opposite the empty space left between the two passages. - The Kessef Mishneh cites the Zohar (Vol. III, 266a) which states that Shaddai should be written opposite the word, V'hayah.

There is no difficulty in this, since [the addition is made] outside. - See also the Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 288:15) who states that it is also common to write the letters, כוזו במוכסז כוזו, opposite the words, י-ה-ו-ה א-להנו י-ה-ו-ה, on the outer side of a mezuzah. These letters are the letters which follow the letters in those names of God - i.e., the כ follows the י, the ז follows the ו.

Those, however, who write the names of angels, other sacred names, verses, or forms, on the inside [of a mezuzah] are among those who do not have a portion in the world to come. - In Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 11:12, the Rambam states:

A person who whispers an incantation over a wound and then recites a verse from the Torah, who recites a verse over a child so that he will not become scared, or who places a Torah scroll or tefillin over a baby so that it will sleep, is considered to be a soothsayer or one who casts spells. Furthermore, such people are included among those who deny the Torah, because they relate to the words of the Torah as if they are cures for the body, when, in fact, they are cures for the soul, as [Proverbs 3:22] states: "And they shall be life for your soul."

The inclusion of these people among "those who do not have a portion in the world to come" is based on Hilchot Teshuvah 3:8, which makes such a statement about "those who deny the Torah."

Not only do these fools nullify the mitzvah - As stated in the previous halachah, any addition made on the inside of the mezuzah invalidates it. (Significantly, the Shulchan Aruch 288:15 states that it is forbidden to add to the inside of the mezuzah, but does not explicitly say that the mezuzah becomes invalidated.)

but furthermore, they make from a great mitzvah [which reflects] the unity of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, the love of Him, and the service of Him - These are the subjects discussed in the two passages written within the mezuzah.

a talisman for their own benefit. They, in their foolish conception, think that this will help them regarding the vanities of the world. - The Rambam's statements have aroused questions from many commentaries who note that, in several places, the Talmud associates a mezuzah with Divine protection - e.g., Menachot 33b, the Jerusalem Talmud, Pe'ah 1:1.

The Kessef Mishneh resolves this difficulty explaining that, although a mezuzah affords Divine protection, that protection comes, in and of itself, in reward for the fulfillment of the mitzvah. There is no need for any additions on man's part. Indeed, a person who makes additions to the mezuzah in an attempt to increase its influence demonstrates that he is concerned with "his own benefit" and "the vanities of the world" and not with the fulfillment of God's mitzvah. Therefore, he deserves the Rambam's severe words of criticism. See Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 19.
1. Our translation follows the standard text of the Mishneh Torah. The Kessef Mishneh mentions another version which states "at the beginning or the end of the line." That version parallels the apparent source for the halachah, Menachot 31b.
2. This custom is also recorded by Rav Yitzchak Alfasi, and earlier, in the halachot of Rav Yehudai Gaon. It is not clear when this custom was begun.
3. As mentioned in Halachah 2, a space is left at the beginning of the line so that the passage, V'hayah im shamo'a, will be written in the s'tumah form.

Commentary Halacha 6

When [a mezuzah] is folded - As the Rambam states, the intent is that the mezuzah be rolled. Folding a mezuzah is very undesirable, because it will cause the letters to crack.

it should be rolled from the end of the line to its beginning - Menachot 31b states that a mezuzah should be rolled fromechad to Shema. The Rambam uses different terminology because, as stated in the previous halachah, the first line of the mezuzah does not end with echad.

so that when a reader rolls it open, he will be able to read from the beginning of the line to the end - i.e., when one unrolls the mezuzah, the initial word of the line appears first.

After rolling it, one should place it in a tube made of reed, wood, or any other substance and affix it to the doorpost of one's entrance with a nail. - The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 289:4) states that one should affix it "with nails." The intent is that the mezuzah should be firmly affixed so that it is not dangling from one side.

Alternatively, one should hollow out the doorpost and place the mezuzah within. - As mentioned in Halachah 8, one should not place it deeper than a handbreadth within the doorpost.

Commentary Halacha 7

Before affixing it on the doorpost of the entrance, one should recite the blessing: - as is done before the fulfillment of a positive commandment. This blessing should also be recited again when affixing a mezuzah which falls from the doorpost. There is a question whether a mezuzah should be recited when affixing it after removing it to have it checked (Pitchei Teshuvah 289:1).

"Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to affix a mezuzah." - Significantly, in Hilchot Berachot 11:12-13, the Rambam states that when one affixes a mezuzah for a colleague, the blessing should conclude, "concerning the affixing of a mezuzah."

Although the verses which relate the command to affix a mezuzah state, "And you shall write...."

One should not recite a blessing when writing [the mezuzah], because affixing it fulfills the mitzvah. -13 In the listing of the mitzvot at the beginning of these halachot and in Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 15), the Rambam also states that the mitzvah is to "affix a mezuzah."

With regard to the blessings, see Hilchot Berachot 11:8, which states:

For every mitzvah whose performance fulfills one's obligation, one recites the blessing when one performs it. Whenever a mitzvah has a further commandment involved after its performance, one should not recite a blessing until one performs the latter commandment. For example, when one makes a sukkah, a lulav,... tefillin, or a mezuzah, one does not recite a blessing when one makes them.... When does one recite the blessing? When one dwells in the sukkah, shakes the lulav,... wears the tefillin, or affixes the mezuzah.

Note also the comments of the Siftei Cohen 289:1, who writes that the blessing, Shehecheyanu, is not recited before affixing a mezuzah.

Commentary Halacha 8

If one suspends [a mezuzah] within a pole - i.e., rather than placing the mezuzah in a tube affixed to the doorpost, one places the mezuzah within a pole which stands next to - but is not permanently affixed to - the doorpost

it is unacceptable, because it has not been affixed. - Deuteronomy 6:9 states that a mezuzah must be placed "on your gates." Unless the mezuzah is affixed to the gateway, it does not meet this criteria (Menachot 32b).

If one positions it behind the door, it is as if one has done nothing. - Deuteronomy, ibid., states that a mezuzah must be placed "16on13 the doorposts of your houses" and not "16within13 the doorposts" (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:9).

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, ibid., states that if one fears that the mezuzah will be stolen or defaced, it may be placed within the door. It should, however, be placed on the back of the doorpost, but not on the wall next to the doorpost. (See also Chapter 6, Halachah 12.)

Should one hollow out the doorpost and place a mezuzah within it horizontally, as the rods were put through the rings [in the Sanctuary] - See Exodus 26:26-29.

it is unacceptable. - Rather, the mezuzah should stand directly upright. This opinion is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 289:6). The Ramah, however, notes the opinion of Rabbenu Tam, who favors the horizontal position, explaining that if it is placed vertically, it is unacceptable.

Accordingly, the Ramah suggests affixing the mezuzah at a slant, thereby adhering to both views. This is the common custom at present.

Should one place it deeper than a handbreadth [within the doorpost], it is unacceptable. - This also is not "16on13 the doorposts of your houses."

Should one cut a reed in half and insert a mezuzah within, and afterwards connect this reed with other reeds, making a doorpost for the house from them - Although if the reed with the mezuzah had been affixed to an existing doorpost, it would have been acceptable. In this instance,

it is unacceptable, because the affixing of the mezuzah preceded the making of the doorpost of the entrance. - As the Rambam explains in Hilchot Tzitzit 1:16, Deuteronomy 22:12 states that one should "make fringes" on one's garments. Menachot 40b states that this teaches us that we must make the tzitzit and not use those which are already made.

Menachot 33b states that the same principle applies here. Since the mezuzah was placed inside the pole before it became part of the doorpost, it is not acceptable.

Commentary Halacha 9

A mezuzah [placed] on private [property] should be checked -at least

twice in seven years, and a mezuzah [placed] on public [property] - e.g., at the entrance to a courtyard or to a city. (See Chapter 6, Halachah 8.)

should be checked twice in fifty years - Rashi, Yoma 11a, explains that if more stringent requirements were instituted, it is likely that they would be ignored. Every individual would rationalize that it is somebody else's responsibility.

lest a letter have become torn or faded. - A small crack can render the mezuzah unacceptable.

Since it is affixed within a wall - as opposed to tefillin, whose checking is governed by different requirements. (See Chapter 2, Halachah 11.)

there is the possibility that it will decay. - At present, it is customary to check mezuzot more frequently. The ink and parchment we use are different, and there is a greater tendency for letters to fade or crack. Also, there are many scribes whose calligraphy is not professional, and errors which render the mezuzah unacceptable are frequently discovered.

[For the above reasons, it is also customary to wrap mezuzot in plastic to prevent the possibility of decay.]

Commentary Halacha 10

Everyone is obligated [to fulfill the mitzvah of] mezuzah, even women and slaves. - Since mezuzah is a positive commandment whose fulfillment is not limited to a specific time, its fulfillment is incumbent on all Jews.

Minors - who are exempt from the obligation to perform any mitzvot mid'oraita ("according to Torah law"),

should be educated to affix a mezuzah to [the doors of] their homes. - as part of the Rabbinic command to educate them to perform mitzvot.

A person who rents - It would appear that if one purchases a dwelling - even in the diaspora - one is obligated to affix a mezuzah immediately.

a dwelling in the diaspora, and a person who rents a room in a hotel in Eretz Yisrael, are exempt from the obligation [to affix a] mezuzah for thirty days. - As explained in Chapter 6, Halachah 1, a person is obligated to place a mezuzah only on a permanent dwelling. Hence, until this time period has passed, these dwellings are not considered to be permanent.

One who rents a house in Eretz Yisrael, however, is obligated [to affix a] mezuzah immediately. - Because of the importance of dwelling in Eretz Yisrael, even a temporary dwelling is of significance (Menachot 44a, Tur, Yoreh De'ah 286).

Commentary Halacha 11

When a person rents a dwelling to a colleague, the tenant is obligated to obtain a mezuzah and affix it. - Even though the Torah states that a mezuzah must be placed on the entrance to "16your13 house," Bava Metzia 101b states that this refers to the person living within, and not the owner.

[This applies] even if he - the tenant

would pay to have it affixed. - Even if the tenant offers to pay the owner to find a mezuzah and affix it, the owner is not required to accept the offer. The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 291:2) adds that even if a person rents a house on the condition that it has mezuzot, and he discovers that they are lacking, he may not withdraw from the rental agreement on the grounds that the agreement was based on a misconception.

[The rationale is] that a mezuzah is an obligation incumbent on the person dwelling [in the house], and is not incumbent on the house. - Compare to Hilchot Tzitzit 3:10, which states that tzitzit "are not an obligation on the garment, but on the person who possesses the garment."

These statements, however, must be understood in the context ofHilchot Berachot 11:2, which states:

There are positive commandments which a person is required to pursue and make every effort to fulfill - e.g., tefillin, sukkah, lulav, and shofar. These are called obligations, since a person is obliged to fulfill them....
There are other mitzvot which are not obligations, but rather are left to the person's volition - for example, a mezuzah and a guardrail. A person is not obligated to live in a house which requires a mezuzah so that he could fulfill the mitzvah of mezuzah. Should he desire, he may dwell in a tent or a ship for his entire life.

To summarize, according to the Rambam the mitzvah of mezuzah is incumbent on the person (gavra) and not on the house (cheftza). Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon him only when he lives in a house that requires a mezuzah.

When [the tenant] leaves [the dwelling, however], he should not take it with him - for leaving the house without a mezuzah leaves it open to undesirable influences (Tosafot, Bava Metzia, ibid.). Alternatively, removing a mezuzah may bring harm to the person who removes it (Sefer Chasidim).

unless the dwelling belongs to a gentile - or will be rented to a gentile. Note the Hagahot Maimoniot, which state that a dwelling which a Jew rents from a gentile does not require a mezuzah. This opinion is not, however, accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 286:23)

In that instance, he should remove it when he leaves - lest the gentile desecrate it. Note the comments of the Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 291:2), who states that it is forbidden to give a mezuzah to a gentile to affix on his door. Nevertheless, if the Jew is frightened that refusing the gentile will generate severe negative feelings, he may leave him the mezuzah.

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Six

Halacha 1

There are ten requirements that must be met by a house for the person who dwells within to be obligated to affix a mezuzah. If one of the requirements is lacking, there is no obligation for a mezuzah. They are:
a) for the area [of the dwelling] to be four cubits by four cubits or more;
b) for it to have two doorposts;
c) for it to have a lintel;
d) for it to have a roof;
e) for it to have doors;
f) for the entrance to be at least ten handbreadths high;
g) for the dwelling not to be consecrated;
h) for it to be intended for human habitation;
i) for it to be intended to be used for a dignified dwelling;
j) for it to be a permanent dwelling.

Halacha 2

A dwelling which is less than four cubits by four cubits does not require a mezuzah. If its area is equal to sixteen square cubits, although it is circular, pentagonal, and needless to say, if it is rectangular, since its area is equal to the above-mentioned figure, it requires a mezuzah.

Halacha 3

An excedra, a structure with three walls and a roof, does not require a mezuzah even though it has two pillars on the fourth side. The pillars are intended as supports for the roof, and not as doorposts.

Similarly, a roof without walls which stands on pillars, even though shaped like a house, does not require a mezuzah, because it has no doorposts. The pillars are intended to support the roof.

Halacha 4

[The following rules apply to] a house which has a doorpost on either side and an arch above the two doorposts instead of a lintel. If the doorposts are ten handbreadths high or more, it requires a mezuzah. If they are not ten handbreadths high, [the entrance] does not require [a mezuzah], because it does not have a lintel.

Halacha 5

A house that does not have a roof does not require a mezuzah. If a portion of [a building] was covered by a roof and a portion was not, the [following ruling] appears to me [as appropriate]: If the covered portion is near the entrance, it requires a mezuzah.

The doors should be attached, and afterwards, a mezuzah affixed.

Halacha 6

[The gates to] the Temple Mount, its chambers, courtyards, and, similarly, entrances to synagogues and houses of study which do not have apartments in which people live do not require mezuzot, because they are consecrated.

A synagogue in a village in which guests reside requires a mezuzah. Similarly, a synagogue in a metropolis, if it has an apartment, requires a mezuzah.

All the gates in the Temple complex did not have mezuzot, with the exception of the Gate of Nicanor and those further within, and the entrance to the Chamber of Parhedrin, because this chamber served as a dwelling for the High Priest during the seven days when he was separated [from his home in preparation for the Yom Kippur service].

Halacha 7

A storage house for straw, a barn for cattle, a woodshed, or [other] storage rooms do not require a mezuzah [as can be inferred from Deuteronomy 6:9, which requires that a mezuzah be placed on] "your homes" - i.e., a house which is set aside for your use - thus excluding the above and their like.

Therefore, [if] a barn [is also used] by women as a dressing room, it requires a mezuzah, since it is used as a dwelling by a human being. A guardhouse, an excedra, a porch, a garden, and a corral do not require a mezuzah since they are not dwellings. If dwellings which require a mezuzah open up to these structures, they require a mezuzah.

Halacha 8

Accordingly, gates to courtyards, gates to alleys, and gates to cities and towns, all require a mezuzah, since houses which require a mezuzah open up to them. Even when there are ten structures leading one to each other, should the innermost one require a mezuzah, they all require [mezuzot]. Therefore, [our Sages] stated: A gate which opens up from a garden to a courtyard requires a mezuzah.

Halacha 9

A toilet, a bathhouse, a mikveh, a tannery, and the like, do not require a mezuzah, since they do not constitute a dignified dwelling.

A sukkah on the holiday of Sukkot, and a house on a ship do not require a mezuzah, for they do not constitute a permanent dwelling.

[With regard to] the two booths of a potter, one inside the other: The outer booth does not require a mezuzah, because it is not a permanent structure. Stores in a market place do not require a mezuzah because they are not permanently used as a dwelling.

Halacha 10

A dwelling which has many doorways requires a mezuzah for each and every doorway, even though one generally enters and leaves through only one of them.

A small entrance between a dwelling and a loft requires a mezuzah. When there is a separate room in a house, or even one room which leads to another room, it is necessary to affix a mezuzah on the doorway to the innermost room, the doorway to the outer room, and the doorway to the house, since all of them are used for the purpose of dwelling and are permanent structures.

Halacha 11

When a person frequently enters and leaves through an entrance between a synagogue and a house of study and his own house, that entrance requires a mezuzah.

When there is an entrance between two houses, [the position of the mezuzah] is determined by the door-hinge. The mezuzah is placed on the side on which the hinge can be seen.

Halacha 12

Where is the mezuzah affixed? At the inside of the entrance, within a handbreadth of the outer edge of the doorpost, at the beginning of the top third of the entrance. If it was affixed higher up, it is acceptable as long as it is at least a handbreadth below the lintel.

It must be placed at the right-hand side as one enters the house. If it is placed on the left-hand side, it is invalid.

A house belonging to partners requires a mezuzah.

Halacha 13

A person must show great care in [the observance of the mitzvah of] mezuzah, because it is an obligation which is constantly incumbent upon everyone.

[Through its observance,] whenever a person enters or leaves [the house], he will encounter the unity of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and remember his love for Him. Thus, he will awake from his sleep and his obsession with the vanities of time, and recognize that there is nothing which lasts for eternity except the knowledge of the Creator of the world. This will motivate him to regain full awareness and follow the paths of the upright.

Whoever wears tefillin on his head and arm, wears tzitzit on his garment, and has a mezuzah on his entrance, can be assured that he will not sin, because he has many who will remind him. These are the angels, who will prevent him from sinning, as [Psalms 34:8] states: "The angel of God camps around those who fear Him and protects them."
Blessed be God who offers assistance.

Commentary Halacha 1

There are ten requirements that must be met by a house for the person who dwells within to be obligated to affix a mezuzah. - The Rambam's choice of phraseology emphasizes the concept mentioned in the previous halachah: that the mezuzah is the obligation of the dweller and not the dwelling.

If one of the requirements is lacking, there is no obligation for a mezuzah. - It appears that all these requirements are mid'oraita, postulated by Torah law.

They are: a) for the area [of the dwelling] to be four cubits by four cubits or more; - See Halachah 2.

b) for it - the entrance

to have two - Note the Turei Zahav 287:1 and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:11, which state that if an entrance has a doorpost on the right side and a wall which continues on the left side, a mezuzah should be affixed without a blessing. If the doorpost is on the left side, and the wall continues on the right, there is no need for a mezuzah.

doorposts; - According to most authorities, the doorpost need not be an addition to the walls of the house. Even if the entrance to the house does not have a frame attached to it, but rather the wall of the house itself serves as the doorpost attached to it, a mezuzah is required. Note the statements of the Turei Zahav 287:1. (See also Halachah 3.)

c) for it - the entrance

to have a lintel; - a beam above the doorposts. According to many authorities, the ceiling of the house is not considered to be a lintel. (See also Halachah 4.)

d) for it - the dwelling

to have a roof; - See Halachah 5.

e) for it - the entrance

to have doors; - The Ra'avad, Rabbenu Asher, and others differ with the Rambam's opinion. In a responsum attributed to the Rambam, his view is explained as follows: The Torah states that a mezuzah should be placed "on your gates." This expression implies an entrance with doors.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 286:15) obligates us to place a mezuzah even on entrances which do not have doors. Nevertheless, in deference to the Rambam's opinion, the Siftei Cohen 286:25 states that a person should not recite a blessing when affixing such a mezuzah. (See also Halachah 5.)

f) for the entrance to be at least ten handbreadths high; - If the entrance is not at least this high, it is not fit to be used by adults. (See also Halachah 4.)

g) for the dwelling not to be consecrated; - See Halachah 6.

h) for it to be intended for human habition; - This principle is not accepted by all authorities. See Halachah 7.

i) for it to be intended to be used for a dignified dwelling; - See Halachah 9.

j) for it to be a permanent dwelling. - See Halachah 9.

Commentary Halacha 2

A dwelling which is less than four cubits - A cubit is approximately 48 centimeters according to Shiurei Torah, and 58 centimeters according to the Chazon Ish.

by four cubits does not require a mezuzah. - Any smaller area would not be considered fit for a dwelling (Rabbenu Asher).

If its area is equal to sixteen square cubits although it is circular, pentagonal, and needless to say, if it is rectangular - The Or Sameach explains the advantage of a rectangular shape based on Hilchot Tzara'at 14:6, which states that only a square or rectangular-shaped building is considered to be a house with regard to the impurity of tzara'at.

since its area is equal to the above-mentioned figure, it requires a mezuzah. - Rabbenu Asher does not accept the Rambam's view. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 286:13) accepts the Rambam's view, in deference to Rabbenu Asher's opinion, the Siftei Cohen 286:23 states that one should not recite a blessing when affixing such a mezuzah.

The Merchevat HaMishneh does not agree with the Shulchan Aruch's interpretation of the Rambam's words, and explains that the Rambam is referring to a circular building whose circumference is large enough to contain a square four cubits by four cubits. Compare with Hilchot Sukkah 4:7.

As explained in Halachah 8, a mezuzah must be affixed to an entrance which leads to another entrance which requires a mezuzah even if the former entrance would not require a mezuzah in its own right. Accordingly, we must say that this halachah is speaking about an independent structure and not a room in a house.

Commentary Halacha 3

An excedra, a structure with three walls and a roof - An excedra was a very common structure in Greek and Roman architecture that was also frequently employed in Jewish homes. It resembled a porch with three sides enclosed and the fourth side left open. (At times, both the third and fourth sides were left open. See Hilchot Sukkah 4:8,9.)

It was covered by a roof which contained an aperture to allow sunlight to enter. Decorative pillars were placed at each of the corners of the aperture.

does not require a mezuzah even though it has two pillars on the fourth side. - According to the Kessef Mishneh, this decision applies even if doors are affixed to the pillars. Though the pillars resemble the doorposts of an entrance, a mezuzah is not required because

The pillars are intended as supports for the roof and not as doorposts. - When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 286:6) states that if the excedra has a wall (even if it is low) on the fourth side as well, a mezuzah is required. According to this decision, most porches that have pillars at their entrance require a mezuzah.

Similarly, a roof without walls - If, however, it has four walls, even though large openings are left in them, a mezuzah is required (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, loc. cit.).

which stands on pillars, even though shaped like a house, does not require a mezuzah, because it has no doorposts. The pillars are intended - primarily, not to serve as doorposts, but

to support the roof. - See Menachot 33b.

Commentary Halacha 4

[The following rules apply to] a house which has a doorpost on either side and an arch above the two doorposts instead of a lintel. If the - portions of the

doorposts - which stand straight and are not part of the arch

are ten handbreadths high or more, it requires a mezuzah - since it has both two doorposts of at least ten handbreadths each and a lintel.

If they are not ten handbreadths high, [the entrance] does not require [a mezuzah], because it does not have a lintel. - The Rambam's phraseology has aroused questions from the commentators. Though all agree that a mezuzah is not required, most maintain that the reason is not that the entrance does not have a lintel - for the arch takes the place of the lintel - but rather because the entrance is not of the required height, ten handbreadths.

The Turei Zahav 287:3 explains that were the doorposts to be ten handbreadths high, the archway would be considered as the lintel. Since they are not ten handbreadths high, the archway is considered to be part of the doorposts, and thus, the entrance is considered to be lacking a lintel.

Commentary Halacha 5

A house that does not have a roof does not require a mezuzah. - Although a gate to a courtyard or a city requires a mezuzah even though the area enclosed by its walls is open, a house is different; unless it is covered by a roof, it does not require a mezuzah. (See Yoma 11b.)

If a portion of [a building] was covered by a roof and a portion was not, the [following ruling] appears to me - Throughout the Mishneh Torah, the expression "appears to me" indicates a decision for which the Rambam has no explicit source in the texts of the previous generations.

[as appropriate]: If the covered portion is near the entrance - and the covered portion is four cubits by four cubits (Kessef Mishneh; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 286:14). Note, however, the Or Sameach, which does not require the covered portion to be this size.

it requires a mezuzah. - See also the Pit'chei Teshuvah 286:13, which states that a part of a house which is customarily built without a roof requires a mezuzah.

The doors should be attached, and afterwards, a mezuzah affixed. - Though this statement, based on the following passage from Menachot 33a, is accepted by all halachic authorities (See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 289:3), its interpretation has been a source of controversy based on the difference of opinion (see Halachah 1) between the Rambam and other authorities whether an entrance without doors requires a mezuzah or not. The Talmud states:

The exilarch built a house. He requested of Rav Nachman: "Affix a mezuzah for me."
Rav Nachman told him: "Attach the doors first."

The commentaries maintain that, according to the Rambam, Rav Nachman was telling the exilarch that if the doors were not attached before the mezuzah was affixed, it is invalid. Since an entrance without doors does not require a mezuzah, affixing it before the doors would create a problem: as explained in Chapter 5, Halachah 8, the doors must be affixed first. Other authorities explain that Rav Nachman made this statement only because it was necessary to determine the direction the doors would open in order to establish the proper side of the doorway on which to place the mezuzah.

Commentary Halacha 6

[The gates to] the Temple Mount - There was a wall around the complex of the Temple Mount separating it from the remainder of the city of Jerusalem. It had five gates, as described in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 5:2.

its chambers, courtyards - Within the Temple, there were many different chambers and courtyards; they are described in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah, Chapter 5.

and, similarly, entrances to synagogues - which are referred to as "sanctuaries in microcosm" (Megillah 29a)

and houses of study - Since students often eat and sleep in a house of study, it is customary to place mezuzot there (Tur, Yoreh De'ah 286). The Shulchan Aruch (286:10) suggests affixing a mezuzah without reciting a blessing beforehand.

which do not have apartments in which people live do not require mezuzot, because they are consecrated. - Yoma 11b derives this concept from the exegesis of Deuteronomy 6:9: "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your homes." The Temple is not "your home," a private dwelling, and therefore does not require a mezuzah.

The Chatam Sofer (Yoreh De'ah, Responsum 281) asks: Since the Chamber of Parhedrin was the only portion within the Temple Courtyard used as a person's dwelling, why does the Rambam state that these entrances do not require mezuzot because they are consecrated? Since they are not used as a dwelling, why would one think they require a mezuzah?

The Chatam Sofer explains that the Temple is a dwelling - in fact, the ultimate dwelling, the resting place of the Divine Presence. Nevertheless, since it is not a dwelling for humans, it does not require a mezuzah.

A synagogue in a village in which guests reside requires a mezuzah. Similarly, a synagogue in a metropolis, if it has an apartment, requires a mezuzah. - The Nimukei Yosef (Halachot Katanot) explains that synagogues in villages would generally have apartments for guests, because the villagers' homes were usually not large enough to accommodate them. In contrast, in large cities, there were generally enough people willing to invite guests to their homes, and thus it was unnecessary for a synagogue to have a guest apartment.

All the gates in the Temple complex did not have mezuzot, with the exception of the Gate of Nicanor - The central gate to the Temple Courtyard. (See Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 5:5.)

The Gate of Nicanor required a mezuzah because it was the gate directly before the Chamber of Parhedrin. As explained in Halachah 8, the gate of a courtyard which leads to a dwelling requires a mezuzah. Based on this rationale, Rav Kapach asks why the gates before the Gate of Nicanor did not require a mezuzah, since they led to a gate which led to a dwelling.

and those - the other six gates to the Temple Courtyard

further within - The Kessef Mishneh and others note that the Rambam's text differs from his source (Yoma, loc. cit.), which reads "the Gate of Nicanor and the Chamber of Parhedrin, which was further within." He does explain, however, that the Rambam's version is acceptable: Since all these gates lead to the Chamber of Parhedrin, they therefore require a mezuzah.

Rav Kapach supports this interpretation, noting that the Chamber of the Hearth also served as a dwelling for the priests, and hence, the gate to it would require a mezuzah. According to this interpretation, this gate is also included, while according to our text of the Talmud, it is not.

and the entrance to the Chamber of Parhedrin - This term means "officer of the king," and was used as a derisive reference to the High Priests of the Second Temple period, who were not righteous and would purchase this position from the ruling authorities for lavish bribes (Yoma 8b).

because this chamber served as a dwelling for the High Priest during the seven days - Note Yoma 10b, which states that the obligation to place a mezuzah on the gate of Nicanor and the Chamber of Parhedrin applies only during these seven days and not throughout the entire year. Nevertheless, since as stated in Chapter 5, Halachah 11, one should not remove a mezuzah after leaving a dwelling, the mezuzah should remain there (Rav Kapach).

when he was separated [from his home in preparation for the Yom Kippur service]. - See Yoma 2a, Hilchot Avodat Yom HaKippurim 1:3.

Commentary Halacha 7

A storage house for straw, a barn for cattle, a woodshed, or [other] storage rooms - Rav David Arameah notes that there are commentaries who point to a contradiction between these statements and Hilchot Melachim 7:5, where the Rambam states that a soldier who is excused from the battlefield for building a new house (see Deuteronomy 20:5), is released for constructing one of these structures.

He explains, however, that the Rambam's phraseology clearly indicates how this difficulty can be resolved. In Hilchot Melachim, the Rambam states that these structures are "16fit13 to dwell in." In this halachah, he states that they are not "set aside for their use."

A house requires a mezuzah only when a person dwells in it. Accordingly, since these structures are not used for that purpose, they do not require a mezuzah. To receive an exemption from military service, all that is necessary is to build a house "fit to dwell in." Since it is possible to use these structures for that purpose, the exemption is granted.

do not require a mezuzah [as can be inferred from Deuteronomy 6:9, which requires that a mezuzah be placed on] "your homes" - i.e., a house which is set aside for your use - i.e., for human habitation. This principle is not accepted by all authorities. Based on the opinion of the Tur and others, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 286:1-2) requires that a mezuzah be affixed to such structures.

thus excluding the above and their like - provided they are not also used as dwellings by humans.

Therefore, [if] a barn [is also used] by women as a dressing room - The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 286:2) emphasizes that if the women stand there naked, it is improper for a mezuzah to be affixed.

it requires a mezuzah, since it is used as a dwelling by a human being. - For this reason, a large walk-in closet requires a mezuzah.

A guardhouse, an excedra, a porch, a garden, and a corral do not require a mezuzah - even if they possess roofs, four walls, and doors. Note the decisions of the Tur (Yoreh De'ah 286) and other Ashkenazic authorities, which obligate placing a mezuzah on these structures if they conform to all the other necessary requirements.

since they are not dwellings - for humans.

If dwellings which require a mezuzah open up to these structures - Based on the following halachah, this decision would apply even if these structures also lack other requirements a building must have for a mezuzah to be placed upon it.

they require a mezuzah - not only on the door between them and the dwelling, but on an entrance which leads to them from the outside (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 286:8).

Commentary Halacha 8

Accordingly, gates to courtyards, gates to alleys, and gates to cities - e.g., the gates to the old city of Jerusalem

and towns - even though the areas to which they lead are not covered by roofs and are not dwellings

all require a mezuzah, since houses which require a mezuzah open up to them. - Yoma 11a relates that the obligation to affix mezuzot on such structures is derived from the inclusion of the word, "And on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:9). This implies that even structures which are not themselves "homes" should have mezuzot on their entrances.

Even when there are ten structures - We have translated the term batim loosely. Manuscript copies of the Mishneh Torah substitute the term "entrances."

leading one to each other - For example, a gate to a courtyard opens to a gate to an alleyway, which leads to a further alleyway, which leads to a courtyard....

should the innermost one - meet the ten conditions mentioned in Halachah 1 and thus

require a mezuzah, they all require [mezuzot] - because of it.

Therefore, [our Sages] stated: A gate which opens up from a garden to a courtyard requires a mezuzah. - The Rambam rarely mentions references to any source other than the T'nach. In this instance when he does, the definition of the source to which he refers is a matter of question.

Most commentaries cite the Rambam's source as Menachot 33b. The passage there, however, speaks of a gate leading from a room to a garden or from a room to a courtyard. The Kiryat Melech cites a reference in Chapter 2 of the tractate of Mezuzah, which describes precisely the situation mentioned by the Rambam.

Commentary Halacha 9

A toilet, a bathhouse, a mikveh - even when used only for the purpose of ritual immersion

a tannery - which is characterized by a foul smell, since feces are often used in the processing of leather.

and the like, do not require a mezuzah, since they do not constitute a dignified dwelling. - Yoma 11b explains that this exclusion is implied by the commandment to place a mezuzah on our "homes." Only a dignified dwelling, like a home, requires a mezuzah.

A sukkah on the holiday of Sukkot - If, however, one dwelled in such a structure for the entire year, a mezuzah would be required.

and a house on a ship - Although the commentaries accept this law in principle, they question the Rambam's source. Among the possibilities offered are the Midrash Tannaim, Parashat Va'etchanan, and the Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 4:12.

The latter source compares tefillin to mezuzah and explains that the mitzvah of tefillin has an advantage, because it is fulfilled by those who travel in the desert or journey upon the sea. From this, one can conclude that the mitzvah of mezuzah is not fulfilled at sea.

do not require a mezuzah, for they do not constitute a permanent dwelling. - The same principle applies to other dwellings of a temporary nature. Based on this principle, the Birchai Yosef (Yoreh De'ah 286) exempts patients in a hospital or inmates in prison of the obligation to have a mezuzah on their doors.

Similarly,

[With regard to] the two booths of a potter, one inside the other: - In Talmudic times, a potter would set up two booths, an inner booth, where he would live and store his belongings, and an outer booth, where he would work and exhibit his wares (Sukkah 8b). The inner booth requires a mezuzah. However,

The outer booth does not require a mezuzah - Sukkah (loc. cit.) asks: Although the outer booth is not a dwelling and, therefore, does not, in and of itself, require a mezuzah, perhaps a mezuzah should be affixed because it leads to the inner booth? The Talmud answers

because it - the outer booth

is not a permanent structure - and only an entrance of a permanent nature can be considered an "entrance to an entrance" and is required to have a mezuzah (Kessef Mishneh). Note the Ra'avad and Rashi, who interpret the passage from Sukkah differently.

Stores in a market place do not require a mezuzah, because they are not permanently used as a dwelling. - Note the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:14, which states that this law applies only to stalls used for business fairs that are left vacant after the fair is over. If, however, merchandise is continually left in a store, a mezuzah is required.

Commentary Halacha 10

A dwelling - or room

which has many doorways requires a mezuzah for each and every doorway - that meets the ten qualifications mentioned above.

even though one generally enters and leaves through only one of them. - Even if a doorway is never used. As long as the potential for using it exists, a mezuzah is required. If, however, the doorway is barred closed so that it will not be used, no mezuzah is necessary.

A small entrance between a dwelling and a loft requires a mezuzah. - On the surface, this statement, is unnecessary. Clearly, such an entrance would require a mezuzah. Perhaps the Rambam is implying that a mezuzah is required even though the opening lies horizontally in the roof of the house. There is a difference of opinion on this matter, and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:20 requires a mezuzah only on an entrance that stands upright.

When there is a separate room in a house, or even one room which leads to another room - This law reflects how dramatically socio-economic standards have changed. In Talmudic times and in the Rambam's era, a dwelling which had more than one large room was an unusual phenomenon.

it is necessary to affix a mezuzah on the doorway to the innermost room, the doorway to the outer room, and the doorway to the house - There is no maximum number of mezuzot in a house.

since all of them are used for the purpose of dwelling and are permanent structures. - The Kessef Mishneh states that this law is self-evident, based on the Rambam's statements in Halachah 8. The commentaries explain, however, that the above halachah describes a situation where many entrances require a mezuzah because of another room. In this instance, each of the rooms itself requires a mezuzah.

Commentary Halacha 11

When a person frequently enters and leaves through an entrance between a synagogue or a house of study - which do not require a mezuzah, as mentioned in Halachah 6 above,

and his own house, that entrance requires a mezuzah. - because the fact that it is an entrance to one's own house is considered of predominant importance.

When there is an entrance between two houses - or more particularly, between two rooms in the same house

[the position of the mezuzah] is determined by the door-hinge. - This principle is called heker tzir (Menachot 33a).

The mezuzah is placed on the side on which the hinge can be seen - i.e., the side to which the door opens. This halachah is very significant with regard to contemporary homes, which possess many rooms, and it is necessary to determine the side of the entrance on which the mezuzah should be placed. The Rambam explains that this is determined by the direction to which the door opens: The mezuzah is placed on the right side of the entrance to the room to which the door opens.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 289:3) quotes the Rambam's decision. The Turei Zahav 289:4 and the Siftei Cohen 289:6 mention two other factors:
a) The order in which one enters the rooms from the entrance to the house. The room which is closer to the entrance to the house is considered as leading to the room which is further removed, and the mezuzah is placed on the right side of the entrance to the latter room;

b) The importance of the rooms. The room which is less important is considered as leading into the room which is more important, and the mezuzah is placed on the right side of the entrance to the latter room.

These principles are also significant if an entrance has no doors or has sliding doors. The above concepts apply only to rooms within a house. If the door leads to the public thoroughfare, the mezuzah is always placed on the right-hand side as one enters the house.

Commentary Halacha 12

Where is the mezuzah affixed? At the inside of the entrance - Menachot 32b explains that the Hebrew uvish'arecha, translated as "on your gates," can also be rendered "within your gates." Note the commentary on Chapter 5, Halachah 8, which explains that, when there is no other alternative, the mezuzah may be affixed inside the entrance, on the back of the doorpost.

within a handbreadth of the outer edge of the doorpost - Menachot 33b gives two reasons for this position:< br /> a) so that one will encounter God's name as soon as one enters one's home;
b) so that the protective influences aroused by the mezuzah will affect a greater portion of the home.

at the beginning of the top third of the entrance. -Menachot 33a derives this concept from the fact that the Torah teaches the mitzvah of mezuzah directly after the mitzvah of tefillin. Just as tefillin are placed on the upper portion of one's arm, a mezuzah should be placed on the upper portion of the entrance. (Note the Nekudot HaKessef 289, who objects to this decision.)

If it was affixed higher up - Note the Ra'avad, who states that when a doorway is very high, the mezuzah should be placed at the height of one's shoulders. (See Siftei Cohen 289:4.)

it is acceptable as long as it is at least a handbreadth below the lintel. - Rabbenu Asher and the Ashkenazic authorities maintain that the mezuzah may be placed next to the lintel.

It must be placed at the right-hand side - This law applies even when a house is owned by a left-handed person (Ramah, Yoreh De'ah 289:2).

as one enters the house. - Yoma 11b explains that the word veitecha, "your house," can also be interpreted, "as you enter," implying that the mezuzah should be positioned as one enters a house or room.

If it is placed on the left-hand side, it is invalid. - It is not considered as if one has fulfilled the mitzvah at all.

A house belonging to partners requires a mezuzah. - Yoma, loc. cit., explains that although Deuteronomy 6:9 uses the singular form for "16your13 house," it does not exclude houses belonging jointly to many people.

The Kessef Mishneh relates that it would have been more appropriate to mention this law at the beginning of the chapter; nevertheless, the Rambam mentions it here because it is derived from the same Talmudic passage as the preceding law.

Note the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:19, which states that an entrance which one shares with a gentile does not require a mezuzah.

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Seven

Hilchot Sefer Torah

Halacha 1

It is a positive commandment for each and every Jewish man to write a Torah scroll for himself, as [implied by the commandment (Deuteronomy 31:19)]: "And now, write down this song for yourselves," i.e., write down the [entire] Torah which contains this song. [The basis for this interpretation is] that the Torah should not be written passage by passage.

Even if a person's ancestors left him a Torah scroll, it is a mitzvah to write one himself. If a person writes the scroll by hand, it is considered as if he received it on Mount Sinai. If he does not know how to write himself, [he should have] others write it for him.

Anyone who checks even a single letter of a Torah scroll is considered as if he wrote the entire scroll.

Halacha 2

A king is commanded to write another Torah scroll for himself, for the sake of his sovereignty, in addition to the scroll which he possessed while a commoner, as [Deuteronomy 17:18] states: "And when he sits on his royal throne, he shall write...." This scroll should be checked against the scroll in the Temple Courtyard by the Supreme Sanhedrin.

The one which he possessed while he was a commoner should be placed in his storage chambers, and the one that he wrote - or had written for him - while he was a king, should be with him at all times. When he goes out to war, his Torah scroll should be with him. When he returns, it should be with him. When he sits in judgment, it should be with him. When he dines, it should be opposite him, as [Deuteronomy 17:19] states: "And it shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life."

Halacha 3

If a king did not possess a Torah scroll before he became king, he must write two Torah scrolls after he ascends the throne: one to place in his storage chambers, and the other to accompany him at all times, never leaving his presence except at night, when he enters the bathhouse, the toilet, or when he sleeps.

Halacha 4

A Torah scroll which was written on unruled [parchment] or which was written with portions on g'vil and portions on k'laf is invalid. It must be written either entirely on g'vil or entirely on k'laf.

How should a Torah scroll be written? One should write with very careful and attractive calligraphy, leaving the space the size of a small letter between each word and a hairbreadth's space between each letter. The space of a line should be left between each line.

The length of each line should be thirty letters so that one can write the word למשפחותיכם three times. This should be the width of every column. A line should not be shorter than this, lest the column appear like a note; nor wider than this, so that one's eyes will not wander through the text.

Halacha 5

One should not reduce the size of a letter in order to leave the proper amount of space between one passage and another.

Should [a scribe] have to write a word with five letters [at the end of a line, and there not be sufficient space for them all], he should not write two within the column and three beyond its margins. Rather, he should write three within the column, and two beyond its margins. If there is no room on the line to write [at least] three letters, he should leave an empty space and continue at the beginning of the [next] line.

Halacha 6

Should [a scribe] have to write a two-letter word [after completing a line], he should not write it between the columns. Instead, he should write it at the beginning of the [following] line.

[The following rules apply] if one had to write a word of ten - or more or fewer - letters in the middle of a line, and less space than necessary remained within the column: If it is possible to write half of the word within the column, with [only] half extending beyond the margin, he should. If that is not possible, he should leave an empty space and continue at the beginning of the next line.

Halacha 7

One should leave four empty lines between each of the books of the Torah, neither more, nor less, starting the next book at the beginning of the following line.

One should complete the entire Torah in the middle of the line at the bottom of the column. If many lines remain in the column, he should write shorter lines, beginning at the beginning of the line, but not completing it, so that the words לעיני כל ישראל are in the middle of the line at the bottom of the column.

Halacha 8

One should be careful regarding the oversized letters, the miniature letters, the letters that are dotted, the letters that have abnormal shapes - e.g., the pe'in that are bent over - and the crooked letters that the scribes have copied from each other in a chain of tradition.

[Similarly,] care should be taken regarding the crowns and the number [of crowns placed on a letter]. There are some letters that have [only] one crown, and others that have seven crowns. All these crowns are shaped like zeiynin. They should be as thin as a hair.

Halacha 9

All the above matters were mentioned only because this is the most perfect way of performing the mitzvah. Should one, however, alter the structure [of a scroll from that] mentioned above or not be precise regarding the placement of the crowns, [the scroll is acceptable] if all the letters were written as they should be.

[Similarly,] if one wrote the lines closer together, separated them further, lengthened them, or shortened them, the scroll is acceptable, provided one letter does not touch another, no letters are omitted, extra letters are not added, the shape of even a single letter is not altered, and the [form of the passages, whether] p'tuchah or s'tumah, is not changed.

Halacha 10

There are other practices which, although they are not mentioned in the Talmud, have been followed by scribes as tradition, transferred from generation to generation. They include that:
a) the number of lines in each column not be less than 48 nor greater than 60;
b) there is a space of approximately nine letters left empty between each passage, so that one could write the word אשר three times;
c) that the five lines above the song recited at the Red Sea begin with the words: haba'im, bayabashah, י-ה-ו-ה andb'Mitzrayim, and that the five lines below that song begin with the words: vatikach, achareha, sus, vayetz'u, and vayavo'u.
d) that the six lines above the song, Ha'azinu begin with the words: v'a'idah, acharei, haderech, b'acharit, l'hach'iso, and k'hal, and that the five lines below that song begin with the words: vayavo, l'daber, asher, hazot, asher.

Halacha 11

All the above matters [were mentioned] only because this is the most perfect way of performing the mitzvah. If one deviated from them, [the scroll] is not disqualified.

In contrast, if one wrote the short form of a word that should be spelled using a long form, or the long form of one that should be spelled using a short form, [the scroll] is disqualified.

[The same ruling applies if, in circumstances where one word is written in the Torah scroll and a different word is read] - e.g.,yishkavenah is read instead of yishgalenah (Deuteronomy 28:30), and uvat'chorim is read instead of uva'folim (Deuteronomy 28:27) - one writes the word that is read [instead of the word that is written].

Similarly, if one wrote a passage that should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, or one that should be s'tumah as p'tuchah, or if one wrote another passage from the Torah in the form of one of the songs, or wrote one of the songs in the form of another passage, [the scroll is disqualified]. It does not have the holiness of a Torah scroll and, instead, is considered as one of the chumashim from which children are taught.

Halacha 12

A Torah scroll that is uncorrected should not be left [unattended to] for more than thirty days. Rather, it should either be corrected or entombed.

A Torah scroll that has three errors in each column should be corrected. If it has four, it should be entombed. Should the majority of a scroll have been checked to be accurate and there are four errors in each column of the remainder of the scroll, the scroll should be corrected, provided there is at least one column of the defective portion that has fewer than four errors.

Halacha 13

When does the above apply? When one wrote the short form of a word instead of the long form, and one will thus be forced to insert the [extra] letters between the lines. If, however, one wrote the long form of a word instead of the short form, one may correct the scroll even if there are many errors on each page. In such an instance, one removes a letter instead of inserting it.

Halacha 14

It is permitted to write a scroll containing each of the five books of the Torah individually. These scrolls do not have the sanctity of a Torah scroll.

One should not write a scroll that contains several passages, nor should one write a scroll for a child to learn from. This is, nevertheless, permitted if one [ultimately] intends to complete an entire book of the Torah. It is permitted to write a scroll with [verses from the Torah] when one writes three words in a line spaced out disjointedly.

Halacha 15

It is permitted to include [all the books of] the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Scriptures in a single scroll.

Four empty lines should be left between each book of the Torah, and three empty lines between each book of the Prophets. One should also leave three lines between each book of the twelve [minor] prophets, so that should one desire to cut, he may do so.

This is the order of the Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, the Twelve [Minor Prophets].

This is the order of the Holy Scriptures: Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.

Halacha 16

All sacred texts may be written only on a ruled [surface]. [This applies] even if they are written on paper. One may write three words without ruling [the surface on which they are written]. Writing any more than that is forbidden.

A scroll that includes the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Scriptures does not possess the same degree of holiness as a Torah scroll. Rather, it is like a scroll containing one of the books of the Torah, because the addition [of a book in the scroll] is equivalent to having omitted one.

Commentary Halacha 1

It is a positive commandment - Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 18) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 613) count this mitzvah as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

for each and every Jewish man - With this expression, the Rambam excludes women and minors. The Sefer HaChinuch (loc. cit.) explains that although this mitzvah is not associated with a specific time, since women are not obligated to study Torah, they are also not required to fulfill this mitzvah. Note the Sha'agat Arieh (Responsum 35), who objects and obligates women in this mitzvah.

to write a Torah scroll for himself, as [implied by the commandment (Deuteronomy 31:19)]: "And now, write down - Although this command was addressed to Moses, the fact that the plural form of the word "write" is used indicates that the command was addressed to the entire people.

this song - the song Ha'azinu

for yourselves," - The above is a quote from Sanhedrin 21b. The Talmud, however, does not explain how this verse serves as a commandment to write a Torah scroll. The following interpretation is the Rambam's.

i.e., write down the [entire] Torah which contains this song. [The basis for this interpretation is] that the Torah should not be written passage by passage. - See Halachah 14.

Even if a person's ancestors left him a Torah scroll, it is a mitzvah to write one himself. - The Sefer HaChinuch (loc. cit.) explains that this was intended so that there would be many Torah scrolls available to allow everyone the opportunity to study. Alternatively, a person will be far more motivated to study in a new scroll which he produced himself.

If a person writes the scroll by hand, it is considered as if he received it on Mount Sinai. - Taking the effort to write the scroll oneself indicates that, had the person lived at the time the Torah was given, he also would have joined the Jews in traveling to Mount Sinai to receive it (Nimukei Yosef, Menachot).

If he does not know how to write - a scroll according to all the particular halachic requirements

himself, [he should have] others write it for him. - i.e., he should hire a scribe or purchase a Torah scroll. Menachot 30a states: "A person who purchases a Torah scroll in the public market is like someone who grabs a mitzvah in the marketplace." Rashi maintains that purchasing a Torah scroll fulfills a mitzvah, but the mitzvah is not as complete as if one had written the scroll oneself. The Ramah, however, states (Yoreh De'ah 270:1) that if a person merely purchases a Torah scroll without checking it, he does not fulfill the mitzvah at all.

Note the statements of the Tevuot Shor, which explain that if another person can perform a mitzvah in a more complete manner than one is able to do oneself, it is preferable to commission him to do so as one's agent. In this instance, since most people cannot write a Torah scroll as attractive and halachically accurate as a professional scribe, it is preferable to hire the latter to write one's scroll.

Anyone who checks even a single letter of a Torah scroll is considered as if he wrote the entire scroll. - Unless the scroll is checked, it cannot be used (See Halachah 12). Checking also involves effort.

In his Hilchot Sefer Torah, Rabbenu Asher explains that, at present, this mitzvah is also fulfilled by writing chumashim, texts of the Talmud, and other books of Torah law. This concept is also quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 270:2).

The Turei Zahav (270:4) explains that Rabbenu Asher's intention was not that there is no longer a mitzvah in writing a Torah scroll (for it is impossible that a change in circumstance will nullify a Biblical command), but that the original mitzvah has been extended to include these other texts.

Since even according to Rabbenu Asher's view, there is a mitzvah for each person to write a Torah scroll for himself, it is difficult to comprehend why we do not see many individuals trying to fulfill this mitzvah. This question is particularly pertinent in light of the Rambam's statements at the conclusion of the list of positive commandments in Sefer HaMitzvot, where he describes the writing of a Torah scroll as a mitzvah which a person is obligated to fulfill.

It is possible to explain that since many people are not capable of actually writing a Torah scroll themselves and do not have the financial resources to purchase one and check it, they fulfill this mitzvah through purchasing letters in a Torah scroll written by the community (Pit'chei Teshuvah 270:1; Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 24).

Commentary Halacha 2

A king is commanded to write another Torah scroll - Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 17) and Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 503) count this mitzvah as one of the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

for himself, for the sake of his sovereignty - This scroll must be written while the king is in office. If he wrote it beforehand, even if he knew that he would inherit the throne, he does not fulfill this mitzvah.

in addition to the scroll which he possessed while a commoner - The Rambam does not state "which he wrote while a commoner." His choice of phraseology implies a leniency. Were the king to inherit a scroll from his family, he need not write two scrolls (one to fulfill the mitzvah of writing a Torah scroll and one "for the sake of his sovereignty"). Writing a single scroll is sufficient (Kessef Mishneh, Hilchot Melachim 3:1).

as [Deuteronomy 17:18] states: "And when he sits on his royal throne, he shall write...." - Writing this scroll makes the king conscious that there exists an authority above his own (Sefer HaChinuch, loc. cit.).

This scroll should be checked against the scroll in the Temple Courtyard - The Rambam's source is the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhedrin 2:6). A Torah scroll must be checked for accuracy against an existing scroll. There was a scroll kept in the Temple Courtyard for this purpose.

by the Supreme Sanhedrin. The one which he possessed while he was a commoner should be placed in his storage chambers - The intent is not that it should be hidden away, but that - in contrast to the scroll he writes as king - it need not accompany him at all times. Rather, like a Torah scroll kept by a common person, it should be kept in a storage closet.

and the one that he wrote - or had written for him - while he was a king, should be with him at all times. - except in the circumstances mentioned in the following halachah.

When he goes out to war, his Torah scroll should be with him. When he returns, it should be with him. When he sits in judgment, it should be with him. - Sanhedrin 21b states that the king should "wear the scroll on his arm like an amulet, as it is written, 'I have set God before me at all times. Since He is at my right hand, I will not be budged' (Psalms 16:8)."

When he dines, it should be opposite him - but not with him, lest it become soiled by food.

as [Deuteronomy 17:19] states: "And it shall be with him and he shall read it - He alone. This scroll is reserved for the king's personal use. None of his subjects may study from it (Tosefta, Sanhedrin 4:4).

all the days of his life."

Commentary Halacha 3

If a king did not possess - See the commentary on the previous halachah.

a Torah scroll before he became king, he must write two Torah scrolls after he ascends the throne: one to place in his storage chambers - thus fulfilling the mitzvah incumbent upon every Jew

and the other to accompany him at all times - fulfilling the mitzvah incumbent upon him as king. Deuteronomy 17:18 explicitly states that the scroll associated with his royal position should be his "second Torah scroll."

never leaving his presence except at night - The Or Sameach suggests amending the text based on the Sifre, which requires the king to have his Torah scroll with him at night (except when sleeping). As support for this change, the Tzafnat Pane'ach quotes Hilchot Melachim 3:5:

He should be involved in Torah study and the needs of Israel by day and by night, as it is said: "It should accompany him and he should read it all the days of his life."

when he enters the bathhouse, the toilet, or when he sleeps - even during the day. Deuteronomy 17:19 states, "It should accompany him and he should read it." Sanhedrin 21b concludes: Where he can read it, it should accompany him; excluding places like those mentioned above, where it is not permitted to recite words of Torah. (See Hilchot Melachim 3:1.)

Commentary Halacha 4

A Torah scroll which was written on unruled [parchment] - See Chapter 1, Halachah 12.

or which was written with portions on g'vil and portions on k'laf - See Chapter 1, Halachah 7, for a definition of these terms.

is invalid - because the portions appear as two different scrolls.

It must be written either entirely on g'vil or entirely on k'laf. - As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 8, it is preferable to write a scroll on g'vil. Nevertheless, as explained in the commentary, at present, it is customary to write on k'laf.

How should a Torah scroll be written? One should write with very careful and attractive calligraphy - Shabbat 133b interprets Exodus 15:2: "This is my God and I will glorify Him," to mean "perform mitzvot before Him in a beautiful manner... make a beautiful Torah scroll... with beautiful ink, a beautiful pen, and a skilled scribe."

leaving the space the size of a small letter - a yud

between each word - On one hand, the words (and similarly, the letters mentioned below) should not be too close to each other lest one be unable to differentiate between them. Conversely, leaving too large a gap between them is not attractive.

and a hairbreadth's space between each letter. - See the conclusion of Chapter 8.

The space of a line should be left between each line. - Leaving this space between the lines makes the text easier to read.

The length of each line should be thirty letters, so that one can write the word למשפחושיכם, the longest word in the Torah. The Rambam and similarly, Menachot 30a, write this world in a full form, containing a vav, and thus containing ten letters. Nevertheless, according to our tradition, the word never appears with a vav in the Torah and thus contains only nine letters.

three times. - The Hagahot Maimoniot states that this is approximately a handbreadth.

This should be the width of every column. - The Siftei Cohen (272:3) states, however, that this figure is not a hard and fast rule, and everything depends on the penmanship of the particular scribe. (See also Tosafot, Menachot 30a.)

A line should not be shorter than this, lest the column appear like a note; - The Rambam's phraseology differs slightly from his source, Menachot, loc. cit., which states: "One should not write [a scroll] with many columns [i.e., with short columns], lest it appear like a letter."

nor wider than this, so that one's eyes will not wander through the text - i.e., a person will become confused which line he is on (Menachot, loc. cit.).

Commentary Halacha 5

One should not reduce the size of a letter - i.e., write it narrower than usual

in order to leave the proper amount of space between one passage and another. - This refers to the following situation. A passage ends in the middle of the line and the next passage is s'tumah (see Chapter 8, Halachah 2). Thus, space for nine letters must be left between the two passages. The scribe should not write the letters narrower than usual to allow him to fit them in the space which is left. Instead, at the outset, he should plan the scroll in a manner in which such difficulties will not arise.

The Turei Zahav (273:2) writes that if the scribe does not plan properly and is forced to write narrower letters, the scroll is not disqualified.

Should [a scribe] have to write a word with five letters [at the end of a line, and there not be sufficient space for them all], he should not write two within the column and three beyond its margins. - Note the K'nesset HaGedolah, which questions whether the scroll is disqualified if written in this manner. From the Rambam's phraseology here and in Halachah 9, it appears that he considers this a preference, but not an absolute requirement. This view is stated in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 273:5).

Rather, he should write three within the column, and two beyond its margins. - Thus, the majority of the word is within the margins.

If there is no room on the line to write [at least] three letters, he should leave an empty space and continue at the beginning of the [next] line. - The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 273:3) articulates the Rambam's thoughts, explaining that the scribes should leave empty spaces rather than elongate the letters (for doing so distorts their shape). At present, the latter practice has, nevertheless, become common.

Commentary Halacha 6

Should [a scribe] have to write a two-letter word [after completing a line], he should not write it between the columns. - Although one is allowed to write two letters of a five-letter word outside a column's margins, it is not proper to write an entire word there even if it consists of only two letters (Kessef Mishneh).

Instead, he should write it at the beginning of the [following] line - even though it will cause him some difficulty in spacing out the following line.

[The following rules apply] if one had to write a word - In one of his responsa, the Rambam states that this should not be done with God's name. See Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 276:8).

of ten - As stated above, according to our tradition, the longest word in the Torah has only nine letters.

or more - Though there are no words with more than nine letters in the Torah, the megillah contains one eleven-letter word. The same rules that apply to writing a Torah scroll apply in its composition.

or fewer - letters in the middle of a line, and less space than necessary remained within the column: If it is possible to write half of the word within the column, with [only] half extending beyond the margin, he should. - Though the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 273:4) quotes the Rambam's decision as halachah, theSiftei Cohen 273:4 (based on the opinion of Rabbenu Asher) maintains that one should not write more than two letters outside a column's margins. Significantly, in the laws of tefillin (Orach Chayim 32:33), the Shulchan Aruch also quotes Rabbenu Asher's view.

If that is not possible, he should leave an empty space and continue at the beginning of the next line. - Note the commentary at the conclusion of the previous halachah.
1. Note the Pitchei Teshuvah (273:1), which states that one should not conclude any of the first four books of the Torah on the final line of a column.
2. The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 272:4) states that one may also write the words with taller letters which take up several lines each.
3. This differs from Rashi's interpretation of Menachot 30a, which maintains that one should write the lines in pyramid form.
4. These are the final words of the Torah. Concluding in the middle of the line is a clear indication that these are the Torah's final words (Turei Zahav 272:6).

Commentary Halacha 8

One should be careful regarding the oversized letters, the miniature letters, - According to tradition, each letter appears once in the Tanach in a form smaller than all the other letters, and once in a form larger than all the other letters.

the letters that are dotted, - At times, shapes resembling asterisks are place above letters in the Torah. Each time letters are written in such a manner, several exegetical interpretations are offered explaining the deviation from the norm.

The Hebrew word nekudot is also used to refer to the signs which serve as vowels in the Hebrew language. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 274:7) disqualifies the use of a text which includes these signs.

the letters that have abnormal shapes - e.g.,the pe'in that are bent over, and the crooked letters - See the Chatam Sofer, Responsum 265.

that the scribes have copied from each other in a chain of tradition. - Rarely are these factors mentioned in the Talmud or the early codes. Rather, traditions regarding these letters were handed down from scribe to scribe.

[Similarly,] care should be taken regarding the crowns - i.e., on which letter to place a crown(s)

and the number [of crowns placed on a letter]. - The number of crowns is not uniform

There are some letters that have [only] one crown, and others that have seven crowns. - Menachot 29b states that when Moses ascended to heaven, he found God attaching crowns to the letters of the Torah. When he questioned God concerning their purpose, God told him that, in the future, there would be a man (Rabbi Akiva) who would derive mountains upon mountains of laws from each particular crown.

There is a serious difference of opinion between the Rambam and Rabbenu Asher regarding the crowns. Rabbenu Asher maintains that crowns should be placed on the letters שעטנ"ז ג"ץ. The Rambam maintains that the letters on which the crowns are placed is a matter of tradition extending back to Moses. In practice, today, it is customary to place crowns on the letters שעטנ"ז ג"ץ at all times, and to place crowns on certain other letters depending on tradition.

All of these crowns are shaped like - tiny

zeiynin. They should be as thin as a hair.
5. There is a difference of opinion in this regard between the Rambam and Rabbenu Asher, who maintains that a Torah scroll lacking crowns is disqualified. As explained in the commentary on Chapter 2, Halachah 9, the Shulchan Aruch advises adding all the necessary crowns before using the scroll.
6. See Halachah 6 regarding these three factors.
7. See the conclusion of Chapter 8. If the letters touch, they must be separated before the Torah scroll may be used (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 274:4).
8. See Halachot 11-13.
9. See Halachah 11 and Chapter 8, Halachah 3.

Commentary Halacha 11

All the above matters [were mentioned] - in the previous halachah

only because this is the most perfect way of performing the mitzvah. If one deviated from them, [the scroll] is not disqualified.

In contrast, - There are more serious scribal errors that can render a scroll unfit for use.

if one wrote the short form of a word that should be spelled using a long form, or the long form of one that should be spelled using a short form, - As mentioned in the commentary on Chapter 2, Halachah 3, there are times when the Hebrew vowels cholam andshuruk are written with a letter vav, and times when that letter is omitted. Similarly, there are times when the vowelchirik is written with a yud, and times when that letter is omitted.

The expression malei, rendered as "full form," refers to the form that includes the extra letter. Chaseir, rendered as "short form," refers to the form that lacks the extra letter.

[the scroll] is disqualified. - Although in its present condition, the scroll cannot be used for a public Torah reading, as explained in the following two halachot, the scroll is not necessarily totally disqualified. In certain circumstances, it can be corrected and then used.

[The same ruling applies if, in circumstances where one word is written in the Torah scroll and a different word is read] -13 There are several instances when, although one word is written in the Torah scroll, a different word is recited when the Torah is read publicly. Both the written text of the Torah and the traditional way in which it is read have their source in the revelation at Sinai (Nedarim 37b).

e.g., yishkavenah is read instead of yishgalenah (Deuteronomy 28:30), and uvat'chorim is read instead of uva'folim (Deuteronomy 28:27) - In these instances, both the words share approximately the same meaning; however, the term that is read in public is slightly less harsh than the term actually written in the Torah.

one writes the word that is read [instead of the word that is written]. - See the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 275:6).

Similarly, if one wrote a passage that should be p'tuchah as s'tumah, or one that should be s'tumah as p'tuchah - See Chapter 8, Halachot 1 and 2.

or if one wrote another passage from the Torah - other than the songs

in the form of one of the songs - i.e., the song of celebration after the crossing of the Red Sea or the songHa'azinu

or wrote one of the songs in the form of another passage - See the conclusion of Chapter 8.

[the scroll is disqualified]. - See the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 275:1-5).

It does not have the holiness of a Torah scroll and, instead, is considered as one of the chumashim from which children are taught. - In Talmudic times, even children would learn from scrolls. These scrolls, however, could not be used for the communal Torah readings; they have the same level of holiness as sacred texts that are printed today. Compare to Halachah 14.

Commentary Halacha 12

A Torah scroll - The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 279:1) quotes the ruling of the Hagahot Maimoniot, who applies this principle to the other books of the Tanach and, also, to other sacred texts, such as the Talmud. (See also Rashi, Ketubot 19b.)

that is uncorrected should not be left [unattended to] - lest the error it contains cause a person to err regarding a law or Torah concept.

for more than thirty days. - As apparent from Bava Metzia 118a, this is a period that our Sages generally granted to correct various problems.

Rather, it should either be corrected - as mentioned in the following halachah

or entombed - as mentioned in Chapter 10, Halachah 3.

A Torah scroll that has three - or fewer

errors in each column should be corrected. If it has four, it should be entombed. - For a scroll with more corrections than this will not be attractive (Menachot 29b).

Should the majority of a scroll have been checked to be accurate - The Kessef Mishneh interprets this to mean that the majority of the letters of the scroll are written properly, even if there are three or more errors in most of the columns. This interpretation is quoted as halachah by the Siftei Cohen 279:4. The Ziv Mishneh differs, and interprets this as meaning that the majority of the columns of the scroll are written properly.

and there are four - or more

errors in each column of the remainder of the scroll, the scroll should be corrected, provided there is at least one column of the defective portion that has fewer than four errors. - Tosafot, Menachot, loc. cit., emphasizes that this leniency is granted only when the column was written correctly at the outset. If this column also had been corrected, it may not serve as the basis for the correction of the entire scroll.
10. If so many words are written between the lines, the scroll will not be attractive and it is therefore disqualified.
11. The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 279:4) suggests rewriting the other words on the line with a slightly elongated script, so that an empty space will not be left.

Commentary Halacha 14

It is permitted to write a scroll containing each of the five books of the Torah individually. - See Ketubot 103b, which relates how Rabbi Chiyya wrote five Torah scrolls and gave each one to a different child to learn from, in order to preserve Torah study among the Jewish people.

These scrolls do not have the sanctity of a Torah scroll. - As mentioned in Hilchot Tefillah 12:23, these scrolls may not be used for the communal Torah readings, nor must they be awarded the same degree of respect as a kosher Torah scroll.

One should not write - In one of his responsa, the Rambam explains that this prohibition also applies to embroidering or engraving passages from the Torah.

a scroll that contains several passages, - See Halachah 1 and commentary which use this law as the basis for the derivation of the mitzvah to write a Torah scroll.

nor should a scroll - containing verses from the Torah

be written for a child to learn from. - Surely, writing passages from the Torah for other purposes is forbidden. In the above- mentioned responsum, the Rambam criticizes people who write passages from the Torah as amulets or for other similar purposes.

This is, nevertheless, permitted if one [ultimately] intends to complete an entire book of the Torah. - Ketubot 103b relates that Rabbi Chiya wrote five scrolls, each containing one of the books of the Torah and gave them to five different children to study.

Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi (in his notes on Gittin 60a) differs, and allows passages from the Torah to be written for instruction. Even though this is forbidden by the letter of Torah law, the Rabbis allowed such scrolls to be written to enable people who could not afford to have an entire book of the Torah written for them to teach their children.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 283:2) quotes the Rambam's decision, while the Siftei Cohen (283:3) accepts Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi's position.

It is permitted to write a scroll with [verses from the Torah] when one writes three words in a line spaced out disjointedly. - Our translation is based on the responsum mentioned above. The Rambam's intent is that each line contains only three words and that no line is positioned directly below (or in any other organized pattern), so that the passage will not appear as a single entity.

The source for this law is Gittin 60a, which relates that Queen Heleni had a golden tablet made on which was inscribed the passage for a sotah, so that the priests would not have to copy it from a Torah scroll on every occasion. Because of the prohibition against writing passages from a Torah scroll separately, this tablet was written in the above manner. (Note a somewhat different description of this tablet in the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Sotah 2:4.)

Commentary Halacha 15

Despite the fact that a Torah scroll is on a higher level of holiness than any other text,

It is permitted to include [all the books of] the Torah, the Prophets, and the Holy Scriptures in a single scroll. - See, however, the following halachah, which describes the status of such a scroll.

Four empty lines should be left between each book of the Torah - as stated above, Halachah 7

and three empty lines between each book of the Prophets. - Our text of Bava Batra, 13b, which serves as the source for this halachah, appears to indicate that four lines should be left between each book of the Prophets as well. Note, however, Soferim 2:4, which, like the Rambam, mentions leaving only three lines. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 283:1) quotes the Rambam's decision.

One should also leave three lines between each book of the twelve [minor] prophets - Although they are considered in their entirety as a single book of the Bible, this distinction between the works of each prophet should be made.

so that should one desire to cut, he may do so. - Based on Bava Batra, loc. cit., the Kessef Mishneh maintains that there is an error in the published version of the text and that it should read as follows:

One should also leave three lines between each book of the twelve [minor] prophets. [Alternatively, within the works of the prophets,] one may complete [a book] at the end [of a column] and start [the following one] at the beginning [of the following column], so that should one desire to cut, he may do so.

Rav David Arameah sees no reason to amend the text, and explains that the space is left between the books, "so that should one desire to cut, he may do so."

This is the order of the Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings - The division of Samuel and Kings into two books was first introduced by the Vulgate, the Church's translation of the Bible into Latin.

Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, - Although chronologically, Isaiah preceded Jeremiah and Ezekiel, because of thematic connection, Bava Batra 14b favors the order quoted by the Rambam:

The Book of Kings ends with a description of the destruction of the First Temple. This is also the theme of the majority of Jeremiah's prophecies. The Book of Ezekiel begins with the theme of destruction and exile, but concludes with visions of Mashiach's coming. Afterward, it is followed by the Book of Isaiah, which focuses primarily on the Messianic redemption.

the Twelve [Minor Prophets]. - Although some of the minor prophets - e.g., Hoshea and Amos (see the Rambam's introduction to the Mishneh Torah) - chronologically preceded Isaiah, because of the size of their books they were included as a unit (Bava Batra, loc. cit.).

This is the order of the Holy Scriptures: Ruth, Psalms, Job, - These three books are arranged in chronological order, according to the opinion that maintains that Job lived in the time of King Solomon.

Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs - Rashi, Bava Batra, loc. cit., explains that King Solomon wrote these three books in this order, completing the Song of Songs in his old age.

Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra - These texts are also in chronological order. According to the Talmud, the books of Ezra and Nechemiah are a single text. (See also Sanhedrin 93b.)

Chronicles - which was written by Ezra in Babylon (Bava Batra 15a).

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"Teshuvah out of love" [arises] from the depths of the heart, with great love, desire, and a craving soul to cleave to G-d; the soul thirsts for G-d like a parched and barren soil, because, up until now, it was in a barren wilderness and in the shadow of death... and very distant from the face of G-d... It is regarding repentance out of such great love that it has it been said that premeditated sins become, for him, like virtues, since through them he attained this great love...
  –Tanya, chapter 7
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