The Mitzvah To Write A Sefer Torah
In this week's parshah the Torah writes: "V'atah kisvu lachem es ha'shirah ha'zos…" – And now, write for yourselves this song (Devarim 31:19). Rashi explains that the song that the pasuk is referring to is the parshah of Ha'azinu. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 21B derives from this pasuk that every Jew is commanded to write an entire Sefer Torah. However, if the pasuk is referring to parshas Ha'azinu, how can the Gemara take from here a commandment to write the entire Torah?
The Rambam in Hilchos Sefer Torah 7:1 explains that since the halacha is that when one is writing Torah one cannot write only one parshah, one must write the entire Torah. Many Achronim were bothered by obvious questions. Why is it permitted to write the parshiyos for tefillin and mezuzos without writing the entire Torah? Why is it that only regarding the mitzvah of writing the song of Ha'azinu are we required to write the entire Torah?
The Chasam Sofer, in his Shailos U'teshuvos (Yoreh De'ah 254), answers that the Beis Yosef (in Orach Chaim 49) says that the reason why one is prohibited from writing only a single parshah of the Torah is because we derive many halachos from the juxtaposition of the parshiyos of the Torah. If one would write only a single parshah, one would not be able to properly learn from such a script. When the Torah commanded us to write the shirah, the aforementioned pasuk in Devarim 31:19 continues, "…v'lamdah es Bnei Yisrael simah b'fihem…" – and teach it to the Bnei Yisrael, place it in their mouths. Since the purpose of the mitzvah of writing the shirah of Ha'azinu is for us to learn from it, it must be written together with the rest of the Torah. The parshiyos of tefillin and mezuzah are not intended for one to learn from; rather, those parshiyos remain concealed. Therefore, regarding those mitzvos, one is permitted to write a single parshah without writing the entire Torah.
Reb Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, zt"l, suggests another answer to the above question. When one is writing the parshiyos for tefillin and mezuzos, the writing is not the same as when one generally writes Torah. The halacha that one may not write only one parshah only applies when one is writing Torah generally. When one is writing a parshah for tefillin or mezuzah, he is permitted to write a single parshah because he is not writing Torah for the sake of writing Torah. Rather he is writing for a specific purpose, namely tefillin and mezuzah. As opposed to when one is writing the parshah of Ha'azinu, there is no specific mitzvah that he is writing for. Instead it is considered regular writing of Torah, which is subject to the halacha of not writing Torah as single parshiyos.
The Shagas Aryeh in siman 34 asks another interesting question on the abovementioned Rambam. The Rambam said that since one cannot write Torah in single parshiyos, we must write the entire Torah. The Shagas Aryeh asks, "Does the reason that we cannot write single parshiyos so change the actual mitzvah that now the mitzvah is to write the entire Torah? Or does the mitzvah remain to only write the parshah of Ha'azinu, and one only must write the entire Torah so as not to transgress the prohibition of writing Torah as single parshiyos. One difference between these two options is that if one transgressed and wrote only the parshah of Ha'azinu, would he have fulfilled the mitzvah of kisvu … es ha'shirah ha'zos? Another difference is, if one had written the entire Torah and then everything except for parshas Ha'azinu became erased or torn. If the mitzvah remains to write only the parshah of Ha'azinu in these cases, one would have fulfilled his obligation in the mitzvah. If the Torah had intended for us to figure out, based on the prohibition to write single parshiyos, that the mitzvah is actually to write the entire Torah, one would have not fulfilled his obligation in these cases.
The Shagas Aryeh concludes that the Rambam's wording is indicative of his understanding that the actual mitzvah was to write the entire Torah. Additionally, the Sefer Hachinuch, from where he quotes the Rambam, only quotes that one is obligated to write the Torah in its entirety – and neglects to quote the reason why one cannot write single parshiyos. This would indicate that the Chinuch understood that the Rambam was of the opinion that the prohibition to write single parshiyos was merely an indication for us to understand that the mitzvah was not to write parshas Ha'azinu alone; rather we are to write the Torah in its entirety. Therefore the Chinuch did not deem it necessary to inform us how we know that the mitzvah includes the entire Torah, since it is not part of the actual mitzvah. As a result, according to the Rambam, if one wrote only parshas Ha'azinu, or only parshas Ha'azinu remained from the entire Torah, he would not have fulfilled his obligation in this mitzvah.
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Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 9/21/2011 11:16:00 PM