Bayis Malei Sefarim-The positive command to purchase Torah Sefarim/Directives of Rebbe

Bayis Malei Sefarim-The Mitzvah of purchasing Torah books:[1]

Today [being that writing the oral Torah has become permitted[2]] it is a Mitzvah [and Biblical obligation[3]] to write [publish, and purchase[4]] Chumashim, Mishnah, Gemara and their commentaries.

[Some Poskim[5] rule that today this positive Biblical command is actually in place of the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah and not just an additional obligation.[6] Practically, the custom today is like this opinion, to fulfill the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah through purchasing Sefarim.[7] The purpose of this Mitzvah is in order to have Sefarim available for learning[8] and it is hence an affiliate of the Mitzvah of learning Torah.[9] Thus, the completion of this Mitzvah is fulfilled through learning the purchased Sefarim.[10]]

What Sefarim is one to buy to fulfill the above Mitzvah?[11] One is to write [publish or buy] Chumashim, Mishnah, Gemara and their commentaries [Nonetheless, in truth, this Mitzvah is fulfilled through writing or purchasing any Torah Sefarim, and not just those listed above. The Mitzvah is fulfilled even upon purchasing Sefarim in other languages, such as in English.[12] One is not required to purchase all available Sefarim in order to fulfill this Mitzvah, and any time one purchases a Sefer, the Mitzvah is fulfilled.[13]]

 

Q&A

Are women obligated in the Biblical Mitzvah to purchase a Sefer Torah/Sefarim?

Some Poskim[14] rule that women are not Biblically obligated to purchase a Sefer Torah, or Sefarim. Others[15] however leave this matter in question.[16]

Q&A on what to buy

Purchasing practical Halacha Sefarim:[17]

In fulfillment of the above Mitzvah, one is to especially purchase Sefarim dealing with practical Halacha which will be studied frequently in order to know what one is to practically follow.

Having a Keser Shem Toiv, Or Torah and Tanya in every home:[18]

Every home is to contain the following three Sefarim: Keser Shem Tov of the Baal Shem Tov, Or Torah of the Maggid and Tanya.

Purchasing a Chitas [Siddur and Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya] for one’s child:[19]

Every child is to have a Siddur, Chumash and Tehillim of his own [Chitas]. These Sefarim are to be placed in the room of each child.

Donating books to libraries:[20]

In fulfillment of the above Mitzvah, one is to donate Sefarim to public libraries and help them expand.

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[1] Michaber 270:2; Tur 270:2 in name of Rosh [quoted in next footnote]; Rabbeinu Yerucham in name of the Geonim; See Likkutei Sichos 23:17 Shavuos 1; 24:209 Parshas Vayelech [printed in Shulchan Menachem Yoreh Deah 6:178]

[2] See Admur 334:12

[3] Rosh ibid, brought in Tur ibid, “Today it is a positive command of every Jew who can afford to do so, to purchase Sefarim of Cumashim and Gemara’s”; It appears that even in accordance to the Michaber ibid [and Beis Yosef and Bach ion next footnotes] who simply write that it is a Mitzvah to do so, and the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah remains in place, nevertheless they do not argue on the Rosh that writing Sefarim is included in the Biblical Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah and is hence considered part of the Biblical command according to all. [See Likkutei Sichos ibid]

[4] See Aruch Hashulchan 270:9 and Likkutei Sichos 23:17 in length for explanation of why all Poskim agree that by Sefarim, the Mitzvah is fulfilled by purchasing them, even though by a Sefer Torah, some Poskim require it to be written; Hisvadyos 1988 Hei Teves

The reason: Although the Rama 270 rules one does not fulfill his obligation if he purchases a Sefer Torah nevertheless, regarding Sefarim the obligation is fulfilled even with purchasing them, as the entire purpose of this Mitzvah is to learn from the Sefer. The only reason there is a Mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah and one does not fulfill his obligation with purchase is because a Sefer Torah has laws of writing, as opposed to other Sefarim. [See Likkutei Sichos ibid]

[5] Implication of Rosh ibid; Shach 270:5 “The main opinion is like the Rosh and unlike the Beis Yosef”; Derisha and Perisha 270 in his understanding of the Rosh; Taz 270:4 that so is the implication of the Rosh; Aruch Hashulchan 270:8-9; Rebbe in Likkutei Sichos 23:17 Shavuos 1

Other Poskim: Many Poskim rule that the Mitzvah of purchasing Sefarim is not in place of the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah, and rather is simply in addition to it. The Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah remains intact even today. [Implication of Michaber 270:1; Beis Yosef and Bach 270 in explanation of Rosh, brought in Taz 270:4 and Shach ibid; Conclusion of Taz ibid “The words of the Beis Yosef are correct, as how can we nullify a positive command of “Vikisvu Lachem” with the passing of the generations”; Levush and Magid Mishneh brought in Shach ibid in their opinion of the Rosh; Shagas Aryeh 36 negates Perisha] Nevertheless it appears that even in accordance to their opinion writing Sefarim is included in the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah and is hence considered part of the Biblical command according to all. [So is implied from Rosh ibid; See Likkutei Sichos ibid]

[6] The reason: As today we no longer learn from a Sefer Torah, and it is even forbidden to do so, as it is belittling to the Sefer. Thus, the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah can no longer be fulfilled through writing one and rather can only be fulfilled today through writing/buying Sefarim that one can learn from, as the entire purpose of the Mitzvah is to learn from the Sefarim. [Derisha ibid, brought in Taz ibid and Shach ibid; Likkutei Sichos 23 ibid]  

[7] Rebbe in Likkutei Sichos 23:17 “The custom of Israel today to not write one’s own Sefer Torah is like the opinion of the Rosh”; See there in length and in Aruch Hashulchan 270:9

[8] Rosh ibid as explained in Derisha ibid and Shach and Taz ibid;

[9] Likkutei Sichos 23:17; See Aruch Hashulchan 270:9

[10] Likkutei Sichos ibid; See Aruch Hashulchan 270:9

[11] Michaber 270:2; Tur 270 in name of Rosh; Rabbeinu Yerucham in name of the Geonim

[12] Likkutei Sichos 23 Shavuos 1

[13] Likkutei Sichos 23 Shavuos 1

[14] Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos Mitzvah 18, Listed in end of 248 positive commands as one of the Mitzvos that women are exempt from.

[15] Shaagas Aryeh 35

[16] The reason: As even women are obligated to learn Torah, in those topics relevant to them, and hence they recite Birchas Hatorah. [Shagas Aryeh ibid]

[17] Sichas Hei Teves 1988 printed in Hisvadyus 2:170-173

[18] Sichas 1950 p. 265; Sefer Haminhagim

[19] Sichas Hei Teves 1988 printed in Hisvadyus 2:170-173

[20] Sichas Hei Teves 1988 printed in Hisvadyus 2:170-173

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