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Would a woman be permitted to write a sefer Torah? I understand that it is not done (at least in Orthodox circles), but would doing so violate any halacha? What about the general catch-all of kevod ha'tzibbur?

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    How do you think kvod tsibbur would apply? – mevaqesh Oct 19 '17 at 14:49
  • I dont really. Was just thinking out loud as this may be a reason. – TheRiver Oct 19 '17 at 15:01
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    @Laser123 That's not a good argument here. Women can't write Mezuzot even though they are obligated to have them. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 16:14
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    @Laser123 Then how come the Shulchan Arukh permits a woman to tie tzitzis? Even the Mishna Berura allows that Bedieved. Your general rule isn't so general apparently – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 16:17
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    @Laser123 Also the Magen Avraham does think women are obligated to hear Torah reading on Shabbat. Plus some (many?) think women are obligated to hear Parshat Zakhor. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 16:21
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The Shulchan Aruch (YD 281:3) writes that a woman who writes a Torah scroll invalidates it:

‏ספר תורה שכתבו מסור, עבד, אשה, קטן, כותי, ישראל מומר פסולין.

The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 281:1) writes the reason from the gemara:

‏וכך שנינו בברייתא:

ספר תורה תפילין ומזוזות, שכתבן עבד אשה וקטן, כותי, ומלשין, ומצרי, ועבריין – פסולים. דכך גזרה התורה, דכל שאינו בקשירת תפילין, או שלא נצטוו, או שפרקו מעליהם עול מלכות שמים – אינם בשום כתיבה.

  • Your post doesn't seem to answer the question asked. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 16:10
  • if she writes one it cannot be used. – sam Oct 19 '17 at 16:46
  • Ok, but was it permitted to write? Or does it violate some halacha? Also, cannot be used for what? – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 16:48
  • then the question isnt clear,from the title its is asking about a Torah,what type the obvious assumption is for the Torah reading in shul,for private use whats the diffrence if she writes on Klal or writes on a paper,what is assur about writing Torah,the SA tells us that it isnt kosher in the sense that one is yotzei his obligation,whether rabbinic or Torah obligation such as Zachor – sam Oct 19 '17 at 16:57
  • @sam How do you know it isn't valid Deoraita for Zakhor? Remember we only don't use Chumashim for Torah reading because of Kavod HaTzibbur. The SA does say "Pasul" but it's not obvious what Nafka Minah that has other than Kavod for Kedushat Sefer Torah and maybe Mitzvat Ketivat Sefer Torah. And I agree there is no prohbition of writing Torah, but the OP didn't know that. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 17:11
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I found this useful article that has a pretty comprehensive analysis on the issue. I will edit in some additional info, IY"H, when I have more time. For now, I am citing part of the conclusion / summary from the article.

In summation, there is certainly no basis to allow a sefer Torah written by a woman as valid either le-khathilah, or, in reliance on Rambam, bi-she'at ha-dehaq. The most that can be said is that if one does read from such a Torah, it is no worse than reading from sifrei Torah with other disqualifying flaws, and such a person fulfills his obligation be-di-'avad.

To understand the context of the above citation, much of the rest of the article focuses on distinguishing between a woman writing a Torah for the purpose of writing a Torah (one mitzvah in itself), which would be permitted (according to most opinions) vs. her writing one for the purpose of congregational reading (most opinions object to this.) The reason for the objection, here, is based on whether women have an obligation to hear congregational Torah reading. Add to that a general rule that someone who cannot fulfill others in the mitzvah cannot be involved in the mitzvah. Based on combining these 2 ideas, many claim that a woman cannot write a Torah for congregational reading.

However, even that opinion is somewhat ambiguous, and it's discussed more in the article. As stated, I'll try to edit in some relevant parts, later.

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    That article was a response to a different article arguing that as a Chumash it could be used for Torah reading anyway. Interesting stuff. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 15:10
  • Your post doesn't seem to answer the question asked. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 15:11
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If a man writes the 5 books of the Torah on separate scrolls ("Chumashim") and then sews them together, he has created an entity which is greater than the sum of its parts. The new full Torah has a higher level of sanctity than just a Chumash.

However if a woman does the same thing, the new object does not have the higher holiness of a Sefer Torah but is just a Chumash that happens to have all 5 books in it. (The Drisha (YD 281) argued on this, but the Shulchan Arukh (ibid. :3) and most later authorities reject him.) What she did is completely permitted, but it's not effective in the way she may have intended. This scroll wouldn't fulfill the biblical commandments of writing a Torah scroll (Chinukh #613), reading from a Torah scroll on Sukkot following Shemitta (#612), or a king writing a Torah scroll (#503), nor would it get the same level of respect (#257) as a kosher Torah scroll such as when stacking scrolls (YD 282:19) or according to some standing when it is in movement (ibid. :2).

Regarding using it for the rabbinic enactment of regular public reading, there is extensive Halakhic literature in the Beit Yosef OC 143 and YD 279 (in the context of mistakes found during Torah reading) about using a Chumash scroll for Torah reading and more generally using Torah scrolls with non-apparent problems, and, as any synagogue rabbi will tell you, the range of positions is vast. Generally speaking, there might be some room for leniency, particularly for Ashkenazim, if this were the only scroll available (per the end of the Rama OC 134:4 quoting the Ran), and very likely the reading wouldn't need to be repeated if it had already been accidentally read from (per the custom in the Rambam's famous responsum, accepted after the fact by the Shulchan Arukh OC 134:4). But there's essentially no room to allow using such a scroll in a Lekhatchila situation. We're talking highly controversial minority opinions here for very Bedieved situations only.

In the end of the day, while such a scroll could certainly be used regularly for personal study, with the ubiquity of printed works it really just seems like a big waste of time. Plus you'd have to be very careful (cf. YD 281:1 with Taz, etc.) to ensure it doesn't get mixed up with identical looking Sifrei Torah written by men. If a woman wants to write STaM, she'd be much better off spending her time writing Nevi'im or the like for actual regular use in synagogues.

  • A reference to how/why women are permitted to write Sifrei Neviim or Ketuvim would be most useful, and make this answer much better. – ezra Oct 19 '17 at 15:21
  • @ezra they can even write a Chumash so of course they can write a Navi! There's no book they can't write. It's just putting books together doesn't make a Torah. Why would anyone think they can't write any book? It's hard to find an explicit source permitting something that there is no reason to prohibit. (Consider perhaps Tosfot Gittin 45b sv Kol) – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 15:24
  • Re the last sentence - there are shuls that use scrolls for Nevi'im when reading haftarah. Based on the article I have in my answer, which cites a few sources, it seems that women cannot write sifrei Torah for cong. reading. I'm inferring from your sentence that writing Nevi'im scrolls for cong. reading would be permitted. Why would there be a difference? – DanF Oct 19 '17 at 16:52
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    @DanF For Nevi'im you just need an individual book. It's analogous to a scroll of Devarim, not a full Torah scroll. Women can write Devarim, but if they put the five book together they don't come out with a Torah, as I explain in this answer. – Double AA Oct 19 '17 at 16:56
  • @ezra Lishkat Hasofer Siman 1 and the shaagas aryeh cited there (I think it's 54 but I'm never near my sefarim when I'm on mi yodeya) discusses this. – Yitzchak Oct 20 '17 at 3:54

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