Following my other question "no-anti-altering-failsafe-measures". Please correct me if I'm wrong, one who alters one letter of a Torah scroll invalidates it in whole (שו"ע יו"ד רעד).

But I don't recall a special Torah prohibition to do that (see Rambam Hil. Sefer Torah). This seems suspicious that G-d "didn't mind" the Torah be eventually altered (maybe it follows the approach of "דברה התורה כלשון בני אדם" that it does not matter as long as the meaning stays the same). I would expect it to be in the first Mitzvahs to [try to] prevent any future arguments.

If the Torah does not contain any anti-altering built-in measures and there's no prohibition of altering it, what, besides one's conscious, would stop people from altering Torah scrolls?

So why didn't G-d include a special prohibition of altering the Torah scroll whether intentionally or not?

  • 1
    1. You expect there to be a prohibition to falsify the law that provides the prohibition. Interesting philosophical conundrum. Aug 4 '19 at 12:41
  • 5
    2. I would imagine that falsifying a Sefer Torah would fall under the prohibition of destroying Holy Objects, i.e. - לא תעשון כן Aug 4 '19 at 12:42
  • @DannySchoemann You know the joke - "the lack of prohibition to lie puts the whole Bible in question..." I didn't say falsify, but alter! Let's say you write ברשית - you got lashes. How come G-d makes no steps to prevent distorting his words?
    – Al Berko
    Aug 4 '19 at 12:53
  • 1
    בל תוסיף ובל תגרע?
    – DonielF
    Aug 4 '19 at 14:46
  • You have a number of questions. As far as why the Torah itself didn't prohibit altering, this may have been intentional. Besides the numerous questions of kri vs. Ketiv, apparently, there were doubts regarding some words and even the arrangement (type - closed vs. open) parshiot. I have a M.Y. question re the parsha of the Pesach sacrifice as written in Pinchas. Tosfot had a different Torah version than we do.
    – DanF
    Aug 4 '19 at 17:17

Ketubot 19b:

אתמר ספר שאינו מוגה אמר רבי אמי עד ל' יום מותר לשהותו מכאן ואילך אסור לשהותו משום שנא' אל תשכן באהליך עולה

It is stated: With regard to a Torah scroll that is not proofread [and therefore contains errors] Rabbi Ami says: It is permitted to keep it without emending the mistakes for up to thirty days, and from that time onward it is prohibited to keep it, as it is stated: “And let not injustice dwell in your tents” (Job 11:14).

If it is forbidden to merely possess a (mistakenly) altered scroll, a fortiori it is forbidden to purposely create such a scroll.

  • This is a partial answer. OP also asked why the Torah itself didn't prohibit alterations.
    – DanF
    Aug 4 '19 at 17:13
  • THank you Joel for replying, I truly appreciate your effort. This passage does not condemn the writer, only invalidates the book. So what, why should one care if there's no [serious] punishment?
    – Al Berko
    Aug 4 '19 at 18:11
  • And how did you infer "a fortiori it is forbidden to purposely create such a scroll"?
    – Al Berko
    Aug 4 '19 at 18:12
  • 1
    @Al the passage is explicitly not about the book but about the owner
    – Double AA
    Aug 6 '19 at 3:10
  • 1
    @Al how could the scribe do something that would make the owner be violating a prohibition? Is your question only about defacing scrolls owned by gentiles?
    – Double AA
    Aug 6 '19 at 10:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .