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Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Seven

Tefillin, Mezuzah and Sefer Torah - Chapter Seven

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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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