Siman 28כ״ח
1 א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה, עַל כָּל אִישׁ מִיִשְֹרָאֵל לִכְתֹּב לוֹ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְעַתָּה כִּתְבוּ לָכֶם אֵת הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת, וְקִבְּלוּ חֲכָמֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה פֵּרוּשׁוֹ לִכְתֹּב אֵת כָּל הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ הַשִּׁירָה, וַאֲפִלּוּ יָרַשׁ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה מֵאָבִיו, מִצְוָה לִכְתֹּב מִשֶּׁלוֹ. שָׂכַר לוֹ סוֹפֵר לִכְתֹּב לוֹ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, אוֹ שֶׁקְּנָאוֹ, וְהָיָה בּוֹ טָעוּת וְהִגִּיהוֹ, הֲרֵי זֶה כְּאִלּוּ כְּתָבוֹ. וְאָסוּר לִמְכֹּר סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה. אַךְ בִּשְׁעַת דְּחַק גָּדוֹל, יַעֲשֶׂה שְׁאֵלַת חָכָם (יו"ד סִימָן ע"ר ובאוֹרַח חַיִּים סִימָן קנ"ג).

It is a positive commandment, incumbent upon every Jewish man to write a Seifer Torah for himself, for it is written, "And now write for yourselves this song;"1Deuteronomy 31:19. and via oral tradition, our Rabbis of blessed memory explained, that everyone should write the entire Torah which contains this song [of Moses]. Even a person who inherits a Seifer Torah from his father, is commanded to write one for himself. If someone hires a soifer (scribe) to write a Seifer Torah for him, or if he buys it and finds that it is defective, and corrects it, this is considered as though he had written it. It is forbidden to sell a Seifer Torah, but in a case of great need you should consult a competent Rabbi.

2 ב

וְכֵן מִצְוָה עַל כָּל אִישׁ, לִקְנֹת שְׁאָר סִפְרֵי קֹדֶשׁ שֶׁלּוֹמְדִים מִתּוֹכָן, כְּגוֹן מִקְרָא מִשְׁנָה, גְּמָרָא וּפוֹסְקִים, שֶׁיִּלְמֹד מִתּוֹכָן, וְגַם יַשְׁאִילֵן לַאֲחֵרִים. וּמִי שֶׁאֵין יָדוֹ מַשֶּׂגֶת, לִקְנֹת לוֹ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְגַם שְׁאָר סִפְרֵי לִמּוּד, אֲזַי הַסְּפָרִים שֶׁהֵן לְצֹרֶךְ לִמּוּד, הֵן קוֹדְמִין. אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, וְצִדְקָתוֹ עוֹמֶדֶת לָעַד, זֶה הַכּוֹתֵב (וְהוּא הַדִּין הַקוֹנֶה) סְפָרִים וּמַשְׁאִילָן לַאֲחֵרִים (יו"ד ע"ר כתוב' ד' ג').

It is also a mitzvah for every person to buy other sacred books for learning purposes, such as Tenach (Bible), the Mishnah, the Talmud, and codes of law, to study from them and to lend them to others. If a person does not have the means to buy both a Seifer Torah and other books for study, then the books for study have preference. Our Rabbis of blessed memory stated: ["It is written], "And his righteousness endures forever,"2Psalms 111:3. this refers to the person who writes (or buys) [sacred] books and lends them to others."3Kesuvos 50a.

3 ג

חַיָּב אָדָם לִנְהֹג כָּבוֹד גָּדוֹל בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה. וּמִצְוָה לְיַחֵד לוֹ מָקוֹם, וּלְכַבֵּד אֵת הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא וּלְהַדְּרוֹ בְּיוֹתֵר. וְלֹא יָרֹק כְּנֶגֶד סֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה, וְלֹא יֶאֱחֹז סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה בְּלֹא מִטְפַּחַת. הָרוֹאֶה אֵת הַנּוֹשֵׂא סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, צָרִיךְ לַעֲמֹד לְפָנָיו, עַד שֶׁיַּכְנִיס אֵת סֵּפֶר הַתּוֹרָה לִמְקוֹמוֹ, אוֹ עַד שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹאֵהוּ עוֹד. וּבְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמּוֹצִיאִין וּמַכְנִיסִין אֵת הַסֵּפֶר תּוֹרָה, מִצְוָה לְכָל מִי שֶׁעוֹבֶרֶת לְפָנָיו, לְלַוּוֹתָהּ עַד מְקוֹמָהּ, וְכֵן הַמַּגְבִּיהַּ וְהַגּוֹלֵל, יֵלְכוּ לְלַוֹּוֹתָהּ (יו"ד רפב אוֹרַח חַיִּים קמט).

A person must have great respect for a Seifer Torah.4It is customary when a new Seifer Torah is brought to the synagogue for the first time, that all Sifrei Torah of the synagogue are carried out to meet the new seifer. (Birkei Yoseif, Yoreh Dei’ah 282). A person who buys a Seifer Torah should say the berachah Shehecheyanu. (Ba’eir Heiteiv 223:10) It is his duty to assign a special place for it and to treat this place with honor, and to hold it in utmost reverence. He must not spit in front of the Seifer Torah, and he should not hold a Seifer Torah without its cover [or mantle]. When you see a Seifer Torah being carried, you must rise [and remain standing] until the Seifer Torah is brought to its place, or until it is out of sight. In the synagogue, when the Seifer Torah is taken out or carried [to the Ark], it is a mitzvah for all those before whom it passes to accompany it to its destination. Also the person who lifted [the Seifer Torah], and the one who rolled it up should accompany it.

4 ד

אֲפִלּוּ שְׁאָר סִפְרֵי קֹדֶשׁ אִם מֻנָּחִים עַל סַפְסָל, אָסוּר לֵישֵׁב עַל סַפְסָל זֶה, אֶלָּא אִם הַסְּפָרִים מֻנָּחִים, עַל אֵיזֶה דָּבָר שֶׁגָּבוֹהַּ לְכָל הַפָּחוֹת טֶפַח, וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן דְּאָסוּר לְהַנִּיחַ סְפָרִים עַל גַּבֵּי קַרְקַע. לֹא יַנִּיחַ אָדָם סֵפֶר עַל בִּרְכָּיו, וּשְׁנֵי אַצִילֵי, יָדָיו עָלָיו. בִּשְׁעַת הַדְּחַק מֻתָּר לֵישֵׁב עַל גַּבֵּי תֵבָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ שְׁאָר סִפְרֵי קֹדֶשׁ. אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ בָּהּ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה אָסוּר. מַנִּיחִים חֻמָּשִׁים עַל גַּבֵּי נְבִיאִים וכְתוּבִים, וְכֵן כְּתוּבִים עַל גַּבֵּי נְבִיאִים, וּנְבִיאִים עַל גַּבֵּי כְּתוּבִים. אֲבָל אֵין מַנִּיחִין נְבִיאִים וּכְתוּבִים, עַל גַּבֵּי חֻמָּשִׁים.

Even sacred books [must be treated respectfully]. If they are on a bench, it is forbidden to sit on this bench, unless the books are placed on something that is at least one tefach in height. And certainly it is forbidden to place religious books on the floor. You should not place a religious book on your knees and rest your elbows on it. In an emergency situation, it is permitted to sit on a chest which contains sacred books, but if it contains a Seifer Torah, it is forbidden to do so. You are allowed to place a Chumash (Pentateuch) on top of the Books of Nevi'im (The Prophets) and Kesuvim (The Writings), and the Books of Kesuvim on top of Nevi'im, or, [conversely,] Nevi'im on top of Kesuvim. But you are not permitted to place Nevi'im or Kesuvim on top of Chumashim.

5 ה

סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה שֶׁבָּלָה, גּוֹנְזִין אוֹתוֹ. וְכֵן שְׁאָר סְפָרִים וְכִתְבֵי קֹדֶשׁ וְתַשְׁמִישֵׁי קְדֻשָּׁה. וְאָסוּר לְשָׂרְפָן (עַיֵּן שו"ע אוֹרַח חַיִּים סִימָן קנ"ד).

A Seifer Torah that became worn out must be stored away [with dignity].5It is placed in a clay vessel and buried in the grave of a Talmid Chacham (Torah scholar). (Shulchan Aruch 154:5) The same must be done with other religious books, sacred writings, and sacred articles. It is forbidden to burn them.

6 ו

אֵין זוֹרְקִין כִּתְבֵי קֹדֶשׁ, וַאֲפִלּוּ הֲלָכוֹת וְאַגָּדוֹת, וְאָסוּר לַהֲפֹךְ אוֹתָן עַל פְּנֵיהֶם. וְאִם מְצָאָן הֲפוּכִין צָרִיךְ לְהַנִּיחָן כָּרָאוּי (יו"ד סִימָן רפ"ב).

Sacred writings should not be thrown around even if they are only Books of law or Agadah. They may not be placed upside down; if you find them wrong side up, you must place them in the proper position.

7 ז

אֵין לְהַשְׁתִּין מַיִם בִּפְנֵי סְפָרִים, וּלְעֵת הַצֹּרֶךְ, עַל כָּל פָּנִים יִהְיוּ מֻנָּחִים גְּבוֹהִים עֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים (כלל ל"א).

It is forbidden to urinate in the presence of religious books. In an emergency situation, they should be placed at least ten tefachim above the ground.

8 ח

אֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת מַפּוֹת וּמְעִילִים לְדָבָר שֶׁבַּקְדֻשָּׁה, מִדָּבָר שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ הֶדְיוֹט. וּבְדִיעֲבַד שֶׁכְּבָר נַעֲשׂוּ מֻתָּר. אֲבָל מִדָּבָר שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ לַעֲבוֹדַת אֱלִילִים, אֲפִלּוּ בְּדִיעֲבַד אָסוּר (אוֹרַח חַיִּים סִימָן קמ"ז קנ"ג קנ"ד).

It is forbidden to make a covering or a mantle for any sacred article6But it is permitted to make an accessory for a mitzvah, such as a tallis bag, out of this material. (Mishnah Berurah 147:13) out of material that was used for common purposes. But, after the fact, if it has already been made, it may be used. But, material that was used for purposes of idolatry, is forbidden, even if it was already made.

9 ט

אָסוּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּסֵפֶר לַהֲנָאָתוֹ, כְּגוֹן לְהַעֲמִידוֹ לְהָגֵן מִפְּנֵי הַחַמָּה, אוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶה חֲבֵרוֹ מַה שֶּׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה. אֲבָל אִם הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ זוֹרַחַת עַל הַסֵּפֶר שֶׁהוּא לוֹמֵד בּוֹ, מֻתָּר לְהָגֵן בְּסֵפֶר אַחֵר כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה לַהֲנָאָתוֹ. וְכֵן לְהַנִּיחַ סֵפֶר תַּחַת סֵפֶר שֶׁהָיָה לוֹמֵד בּוֹ, כְּדֵי לְהַגְבִּיהוֹ לְצֹרֶךְ הַלִּמּוּד, יֵשׁ לְהַתִּיר. אֲבָל אֵין לְהַנִּיחַ סֵפֶר בְּתוֹךְ סֵפֶר אַחֵר, שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לְחַפֵּשׂ אַחַר כָּךְ מְקוֹם לִמּוּדוֹ. לֹא יְשַׂרְטֵט אֵיזֶה קֻנְטְרֵס עַל הַסֵּפֶר, לְפִי שֶׁאֵין קְדֻשָּׁה בְּקֻנְטְרֵס, עַד שֶׁיִּכְתְּבוּ בּוֹ. וְכֵן לֹא יַנִּיחַ נְיָר וְכַדּוֹמֶה בַּסֵּפֶר, לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת (מ"א סִימָן קנ"ד פת"ש ביו"ד ס"ס רפ"ב)

It is forbidden to use a religious book for your personal benefit, for example, to stand it up as a screen against the sun, or, so that someone else does not see what you are doing; but if the sun shines on the book you are studying you may use another book as a screen, because you are not using it for your enjoyment. Likewise, to place a book underneath the book you are studying in order to raise it for easier studying, may be permitted. But it is not permitted to place one book inside another, so that you should not have to look later for the place you are studying. You should not draw lines on note paper [in order to write a commentary on the Torah] [by placing the paper] on the book, because the note paper is not sacred until [something sacred] is written on it.7A piece of paper that has divrei Torah (Torah thoughts) written on it may be put into a seifer for safe keeping. (Mishnah Berurah 154:31) Neither are you allowed to put note paper or something similar into a book for safekeeping.

10 י

הַמְאַבֵּד כִּתְבֵי קֹדֶשׁ, עוֹבֵר בְּלָאו דְּלֹא תַּעֲשׂוּן כֵּן לַה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. וּצְרִיכִין לִמְחֹת בְּכוֹרְכֵי סְפָרִים, שֶׁמְדַבְּקִין בְּתוֹךְ הַלּוּחוֹת כִּתְבֵי קֹדֶשׁ. גַּם צְרִיכִין לִזָּהֵר מְאֹד, כְּשֶׁנּוֹתְנִים סְפָרִים קְדוֹשִׁים יְשָׁנִים, לְאֻמָּן אֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי לְכָרְכָם מֵחָדָשׁ, שֶׁיִּקְחוּ מֵהֶם אֶת הַלּוּחוֹת הַיְשָׁנוֹת לְהַצְנִיעָם, שֶׁלֹּא יִתְּנֵם הָאֻמָּן לְסֵפֶר חֹל.

Whoever destroys sacred writings violates the negative commandment, "Do not act in this manner to Hashem your God."8Deuteronomy 12:4. We must protest against those bookbinders who paste sacred writings in the bookcovers. You also must be very careful when you give old, sacred books to a non-Jewish bookbinder. You should remove the old covers and hide them so that the bookbinder will not install them in secular books.

11 יא

אֵין לוֹקְחִין סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה תְּפִלִּין וּמְזוּזוֹת מִן הָאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי, בְּיוֹתֵר מִכְּדֵי דְּמֵיהֶן, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְהַרְגִּילָן לְגָנְבָן וּלְגָזְלָן. אֲבָל בִּכְדֵי דְּמֵיהֶם חַיָּבִים לִקְנוֹת, (אֲפִלּוּ בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁצְּרִיכִין גְּנִיזָה) וְאִם הָאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי מְבַקֵּשׁ הַרְבֵּה, צָרִיךְ לַעֲסֹק וּלְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ בְּדִבְרֵי רִצּוּי, אוּלַי יִשְׁוֶה עִמּוֹ בִּכְדֵי דָּמָיו. וְאִם עוֹמֵד בְּדַעְתּוֹ, אָז מַנִּיחָן בְּיָדוֹ (ט"ז). וְאֵין לְבַקֵּשׁ מִן הָאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי שֶׁיִּתְּנֵם בְּזוֹל יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי, פֶּן יִכְעַס וְיַשְׁלִיכֵם לִמְקוֹם אִבּוּד.

It is forbidden to buy a Seifer Torah,9Paragraph 1 of this chapter states that it is forbidden to sell a Seifer Torah. Accordingly, a non-Jew who offers a Seifer Torah, tefillin or mezuzah for sale must be regarded with a great deal of suspicion as to how he acquired them. Yet, it is our duty to redeem these sacred objects. This paragraph discusses the various conditions under which the purchase may be made. tefillin, and mezuzos from a non-Jew for more than their true value, in order not to encourage them to steal and rob them. However, at their actual value, it is our duty to buy them. Even when the writing is defective and therefore must be stored away these sacred writings must be redeemed from non-Jewish hands. If the non-Jew demands an exorbitant price, we must bargain with him and persuade him to sell at the proper price. If the [non-Jew] persists, we should let him keep [the objects]. We should not ask the non-Jew to sell them at a price that is too low, lest he become angry and throw them away and become totally ruined.

12 יב

אִם נָפַל סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה מִיָּדוֹ, אֲפִלּוּ בְּנַרְתִּיקוֹ, צָרִיךְ לְהִתְעַנּוֹת. וְנוֹהֲגִים שֶׁגַּם הָרוֹאִים מִתְעַנִּים.

If a Seifer Torah falls out of someone's hand, even if it is [covered] by its mantle, he must fast, and it is the custom that those who see it [fall] also fast.

13 יג

אָסוּר לִכְתֹּב פָּסוּק בְּלִי שִׂרְטוּט (עַיֵּן מָגֵן אַבְרָהָם סִימָן ל"ב סָעִיף קָטֹן ז'). יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, דְּאָסוּר לִכְתֹּב דִּבְרֵי חֹל בִּכְתָב אֲשׁוּרִית שֶׁכּוֹתְבִין בּוֹ הַתּוֹרָה.

It is forbidden to write a Biblical verse without lines. (see Magein Avraham Ch. 32: 7) Some authorities hold that it is forbidden to write secular words in the Ashuris lettering, in which the Seifer Torah is written.