It says in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin Daf 21b):

וכותב לו ס"ת לשמו

— that a Sefer Torah should be written for the King "l'shmo". What does l'shmo in this case mean: for the "sake of the King"? However, what does this mean exactly and why is this done? Why must the King have the Sefer Torah written for "him".

(In the original question I wrote that perhaps there is an intention here that it should be written "l'shmah" like any Sefer Torah (for the purpose of writing a Sefer Torah)? However if this is the explanation that we write a Sefer Torah for the King and it's done "l'shmah" (for the sake of the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah), then why does the Mishnah have to point that out? Seemingly this is not the explanation of the words of the Mishnah. Especially since it says "l'shmo" with a vav.)

  • Your second explanation involves a typo which leads to an overly obvious statement. My money is on the first one.
    – Double AA
    Apr 21, 2013 at 23:54
  • The second is gender inconsistent and cannot be the reason.
    – Seth J
    Apr 22, 2013 at 0:33
  • 1
    Hmm, @double aa, I take back my previous comment (related to yours). Sefer is masculine. It could work.
    – Seth J
    Apr 22, 2013 at 1:17
  • Yehoshua, can you clarify which of your "l'shmo" is לשמו and לשמהּ? Due to your transliteration method it is hard to distinguish.
    – Double AA
    Apr 22, 2013 at 1:23
  • @DoubleAA edited. Thanks for point out it.
    – Yehoshua
    Apr 22, 2013 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


Every king is obligated to write his own Sefer Torah. See Chinuch Mitzvah 503

The obligation only starts once the King becomes King. Any Sefer Torah written prior to that cannot be used to fulfill this Mitzvah.

I'm pretty sure that is what the Mishna is indicating with the word "LeShmo". The Sefer Torah the King writes should be his Sefer Torah, which he specifically writes in order to fulfill this Mitzvah.

See some of the commentaries on the Mishna here.

  • So you think the object of "LeShmo" is the specific mitzva of writing a Torah for the King? Isn't Mitzva still feminine? It should be "LeshmaH".
    – Double AA
    Apr 23, 2013 at 2:33
  • @DoubleAA: I think it is referring to the King. Since each king has an obligation to write a sefer torah, he is writing it for him (i.e. the king). The Soncino translates it as: "AND HE SHALL WRITE IN HIS OWN NAME A SEFER TORAH."
    – Menachem
    Apr 23, 2013 at 4:18
  • I agree. But doesn't this imply otherwise: I'm pretty sure that is what the Mishna is indicating with the word "LeShmo". The Sefer Torah the King writes should be specifically written in order to fulfill this Mitzvah.
    – Double AA
    Apr 23, 2013 at 4:55
  • @DoubleAA: Further updates
    – Menachem
    Apr 23, 2013 at 5:02
  • Why don't you just say: Leshmo means for him meaning for this king specifically
    – Double AA
    Apr 23, 2013 at 5:36

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