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It is a mitzvah for a person to write one’s own Sefer Torah.1 Even one who inherits a Sefer Torah is required to write one’s own or to have one commissioned and written on one’s behalf.2 There is some discussion as to whether women are also obligated to participate in this mitzvah. Some authorities encourage them to somehow participate in the writing of a Sefer Torah,3 though most rule that they are exempt. This is because women are not obligated in the mitzvah of Torah study in the same way that men are.4 There is a difference of opinion as to whether one fulfills the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah by purchasing a second-hand or ready-made Sefer Torah.5

One who writes his own Sefer Torah should never give that Sefer Torah away. This is because, according to some authorities, the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah also requires one to keep that Sefer Torah in one’s possession forever. According to this approach, one who later gives the Sefer Torah away, whether by sale, gift or donation, might retroactively forfeit the mitzvah.6 Other authorities disagree, noting that only a king is commanded to be in possession of his Sefer Torah at all times. As such, these authorities rule that one who wishes to give away a Sefer Torah that one has written is entitled to do so. If one’s Sefer Torah becomes lost or stolen, G-d forbid, one does not lose the credit for having fulfilled the mitzvah.7 Other authorities take a more compromising approach and rule that it is preferable that one not give away a Sefer Torah that one has written, although one who does so does not forfeit the mitzvah. As such, one who would like to donate his Sefer Torah to a synagogue is advised to stipulate that it is a long-term loan, rather than an outright gift.8


It is unclear why no blessing is recited when performing the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah, though a number of explanations have been offered. According to one explanation, a blessing is not recited when writing a Sefer Torah because the ultimate goal of the mitzvah is not necessarily the completed Sefer Torah scroll but rather to have a text from which to learn Torah.9 Closely related to this is the opinion that a blessing is not recited when performing a mitzvah that is dependent upon another mitzvah in order to be fully completed. In this case, the completed Sefer Torah is not an independent mitzvah but rather, a component of the ultimate goal – Torah study.10

There is also a rule that a blessing is not recited upon a mitzvah that takes a long time to complete. This is because, should one fail to complete the mitzvah, the blessing that one recited at the start of the mitzvah would have been in vain.11 It is even suggested that a blessing is not recited when writing a Torah scroll because we lack a reliable tradition as to the accurate spelling of certain words, along with other uncertainties on how a Sefer Torah must truly be written.12 Some authorities suggest that the daily Birkot HaTorah recited each morning also serve to “cover” the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah.13

Some authorities rule that there is no true obligation to write a Torah scroll nowadays but that the mitzvah is fulfilled by purchasing sefarim from which to learn.14 It is also noted that most people do not have the financial means to acquire their own Sefer Torah and are accordingly exempt from the mitzvah.15 Common custom is to rely on the lenient opinions and considerations mentioned above, which is why most people do not write their own Sefer Torah.



  1. Devarim 31:19.
  2. Sanhedrin 21b; Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 7:1; Chinuch 613.
  3. Sha’agat Aryeh 35; Aruch Hashulchan, YD 270:5, 6.
  4. Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 7:1; Chinuch 613; Be’er Yitzchak, YD 19; Beit Halevi 1:6.
  5. See Gra, YD 270:3; Rema, YD 270:1.
  6. Torah Chaim, Sanhedrin 21b.
  7. Mahari Ashkenazi, OC 7.
  8. Daat Kedoshim 270.
  9. Rosh, Sefer Torah 1.
  10. Teshuvot Harashba 1:18; Sefer Hachinuch 613.
  11. Chatam Sofer, OC 52.
  12. Sha’agat Aryeh 36; Chatam Sofer, OC 52.
  13. Mahari Bei Rav 62.
  14. Tur, Taz, Shach, YD 270.
  15. Igrot Moshe, YD 1:163.

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Rabbi Ari Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He teaches halacha, including semicha, one-on-one to people all over the world, online. He is also the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (9 volumes), the rabbinic director of United with Israel, and a rebbe at a number of yeshivot and seminaries. Questions and feedback are welcomed: [email protected].