This week’s Torah reading contains the final positive commandment in the Torah, the mitzvah to write a Torah scroll. Every individual is obligated to write a Torah scroll for himself.

This commandment raises a question. Over the course of Jewish history, we do not find many individuals writing Torah scrolls. Quite the contrary, even individuals scrupulous in their adherence to Jewish law did not necessarily endeavor to fulfill this mitzvah. Why has the mitzvah not been given adequate focus? And why haven’t we seen a greater interest in it?

The resolution of this question depends on the conception of Jewish community. When the community undertakes an objective, it is not only performing an activity from which all its members can benefit, it is considered as if all the members of the community are involved in that activity.

Now Jewish communities throughout the world have always had Torah scrolls written for them. When commissioning the writing of these scrolls, the intent of the communal authorities was not only that every member of the community be considered as a part owner of the scroll, but that it be considered as if each member of the community himself commissioned the composition of the scroll and in this way, fulfilled this mitzvah.

On this basis, we can understand the importance of the composition of communal Torah scrolls which are written with the specific intent of enabling all Jews to fulfill this mitzvah. These scrolls join together all Jews - particularly those who purchased letters in the scrolls - in the performance of this mitzvah.

The mitzvah of writing a Torah scroll was given to the Jewish people - and fulfilled by Moshe Rabbeinu - directly before our people’s entry into Eretz Yisrael. Our Rabbis have taught us that the fulfillment of this mitzvah is one of the preparatory steps leading to the conclusion of the exile and to the advent of the era when we will again enter Eretz Yisrael, led by Mashiach, and fulfill all the mitzvos in the most complete manner. May this take place in the immediate future.