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This site cites (under Torah - 16) Deuteronomy 31:19 for the reason that there is a mitzva to write your own Torah scroll.

That every person shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself.

Is that an accurate reference?

In a comment on a related question Deuteronomy 31:19 Torah Leining I saw that the verse was only about the Song of Moses. So I wondered if Deuteronomy 31:19 was the right source for this mitzva.

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Yes this is how the Rambam, Maimonides, codifies it (and he is one of the greatest codifiers of Jewish law).

It is the last of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). As R Jack Abramowitz describes it

The last of the 613 mitzvos is the obligation for every man to write a sefer Torah. Recognizing that not every individual possesses the requisite skill to do so himself, one may employ another person to do so on his behalf. Nowadays, it’s very common for people to sponsor letters, words or verses when their shul commissions a Torah scroll to be written. In this way, people can participate in the performance of this mitzvah.

The reason for this mitzvah is to help spread Torah. If everybody fulfilled this mitzvah, everyone would have a Torah – think how well-versed people could be! Our verse says, “Write for yourselves this song” – that is, the Torah – “and teach it to the children of Israel.” It’s not enough merely to write a Torah and leave it in a closet; it was meant to be taught!

A person is obligated in this mitzvah even if he inherited a sefer Torah from his father. While the mitzvah is specifically to write a Torah scroll, every person should strive to acquire and to study other books of Torah knowledge.

This mitzvah applies to men in all times and places. It is discussed in the Talmud in the tractates of Sanhedrin (21b), Baba Basra (13b-14b) and Menachos (30a-b). It is codified in the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 274. This mitzvah is #18 of the 248 positive mitzvos in the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos and #15 of the 77 positive mitzvos that can be observed today as listed in the Chofetz Chaim’s Sefer HaMitzvos HaKatzar.

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The question is highly perceptive. As this reference shows the matter is a source of discussion which Maimonides explains.

The 613th mitzvah of the Torah is the obligation for every Jew to write a Torah scroll. In the words of the verse: "And now, write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel. Place it into their mouths, in order that this song will be for Me as a witness for the children of Israel."

Although Rashi and some other commentaries understand this as a command only to write the Torah portion that immediately follows, Ha'azinu (which is referred to as a song), the Talmud understands it as an obligation to write the entire Torah.

Maimonides explains that although the word "song" in the verse is referring to Ha'azinu, since it is forbidden to write only a single portion of the Torah on a scroll, it is understood that there is an obligation to write the entire Torah.

  • Thank you Avrohom for your edit and for your answer. I find both concise and you provide answer to why Rambam said what he said. May I ask where it is forbidden to write only a single portion of the Torah on a scroll? – user2411 May 22 '16 at 22:50

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