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During the Second Temple, the Greek empire reigned (over Israel),1 and they (the Greeks) passed decrees against the Jews and (tried) to erase their religion, and did not allow them to carry out Torah (study) or the commandments. They put their hands on their property and their daughters. They entered the Temple, destroyed and made the pure unclean. The Jews were in great distress because of them and were much oppressed, until the G-d of their fathers had mercy on them, delivering them from their hands and saving them. Then overcame, the sons of the Hasmonean High Priest, (the Greeks) and killed them and saved the Jews from their hands. They appointed a king from the Priests, and the kingdom of Israel was restored for more than 200 years until the destruction of (the) second (Temple). When the Jews overcame their enemies and destroyed them, it was the 25th of Kislev2 when they entered the Sanctuary (inner room) and did not find pure (olive) oil in the Temple, except one jar sealed with seal of the High Priest, and it did not contain enough to light except for one day only. But they lit from it the lamps of the Menorah3 for eight days, until they could crush olives and produce a (new quantity) of pure oil. For these reasons, decreed the Sages of that generation that these eight days that begin on the 25th Kislev, will be days of joy and praise. One lights on them lamps at evening at the entrance to the houses, every evening of the eight nights to show off and demonstrate the miracle. These days are called ''Hanukah'' that is to say ''they rested'' (chanu) on the ''25'' ('th of the month) because on the 25th they rested from their enemies. and also because of those days they (re)-dedicated the house (Temple) which their foes had defiled. Also some say that it is a commandment to increase slightly the festive meals on Hanukah. Another reason is because the work of (building) the Sanctuary (in the desert) was completed in these days. One should tell one's children the story of the miracles that were done for our fore-fathers in those days, (see Josephus) However, these meals are not considered as part of the commandment unless one says at the meal songs of praise. One should increase charity in these Hanukah days, for this can help mend any defects in our souls. This charity, should be given particularly to poor Torah scholars. (KSA 139:1)
1) 352 BCE until 70 CE
2) 139 BCE
3) The Menorah was made of gold and had seven branches.
We can answer all questions from last week by explaining two foundational concepts in writing a Torah. The first yesod is from the Divrei Yatziv that says there are two reasons for writing a Torah. The first is that it is a proof of the Shira, Ha’azinu. The second is that one will be able to learn it. The posuk therefore says it twice; first in the command where Hashem says, “Now write this Shira” and then it says, “Teach it to the Yidden.” At the completion, the posuk again says, “Moshe wrote the Shira” and thereafter it says, “And he taught it to the Yidden.” The other yesod is that one is able to serve Hashem in two ways. A person may do things because he is used to it since that is what he saw by his parents. The other way is to serve Hashem out of love or fear.
With this we can differentiate whether one needs the whole Torah to be written, or whether it is sufficient if he has the Shira still intact while the rest of the Sefer Torah may have rotted. If the mitzvah is just for Shirah, then it would not suffice since we need to have the whole Torah written, but if the reason is for learning purposes, then of course one may write parts of the Torah, like a chumash, so that children can learn.
The reason the Gemara in Sanhedrin says that one would not be yotzei the mitzvah if he inherited a Sefer Torah is because that shows the person is doing it just mitzvas anashim melumada, which the posuk in Yeshaya says can cause one to forget the Torah that he learned. It is important for a person to write his own Sefer, thereby showing that he wants to learn, whether it is mi’ahava or mi’yirah.
The same difference would be regarding women writing a Sefer. If it is being written for learning purposes, then women would be able to write it since they have sections in the Torah that apply to them. However, if it is being written as an eidus for the Shirah, then a woman would not be able to write one since they have no chiyuv of U’lemaditem.
The Sha’agas Aryeh in siman 36 asks, in today’s day and age, where we don’t have the knowledge of which words are malei and which words are chaseir, why would we write a Sefer Torah, if it is not kosher to begin with? The reason is, if one buys the Torah, the Gemara calls that as if he is a chotef min hashuk. The Rambam says that if one writes a Torah with the intention of completing it later, the Sefer Torah is Kosher. In the event when he buys it, he knows that there are chaseiros and yeseiros we don’t know about, but he is ready to have it fixed when Mashiach comes, then he is yotzei the mitzvah and that is like a chotef min hashuk since he invests in something but does not know if he will make money. When Moshiach comes he will have completed the Mitzvah.
In the event someone has a Sefer Torah written, it is like he accepted it from Har Sinai. We know that a person who can’t do a mitzva is considered an oness and is patur. As long as a person writes the Sefer Torah properly, according to our mesorah, he is yotzei the mitzvah right now. This contrasts with the case of a person buying a Torah with which he will not be yotzei until Moshiach comes.
The Chasam Sofer’s question can be answered by explaining that since the ikkar mitzvah is to learn from the Torah, then whatever yeseiros and chaseiros would make a difference lehalacha we have a kabala to know which are the correct yeseiros and chaseiros. That is why we may write tefillin and mezuzos and the parsha of Sotah. That is why, halacha le’maaseh, if there is a chaseir or a yeser that won’t make a nafka mina in teich or halacha. It doesn’t passel such a Sefer Torah.
We also see why the malach switched from the posuk of Torah tziva lanu , which is a posuk proving that we just inherited the Torah. We are not doing the Torah mi’yirah or me’ahava. Once we have the posuk of Ve’ata kisvu, which shows it is as if we were mekabel the Torah, that is what the malach was showing was needed in order not to be chayev misa.
May we all be zocheh to write and learn the Torah properly!