Mitzvah #612 was Hakhel – recreating the Giving of the Torah Experience (a.k.a. Matan Torah), and making it so powerful that it would last well into the future. But that would only work as long as there was a king and a Beis HaMikdash. But what about the past 2,000 years when we were without either of them? What has kept our connection to HaShem fresh and alive?
The answer comes in the form of the final Mitzvah of the Torah, #613, the commandment to write a Torah scroll.
“And now write for yourselves this song!” HaShem commanded Moshe.
A what? A song?
Yes… the ENTIRE TORAH IS HASHEM’S SONG and we are HaShem’s singers!
Get ready to learn all about a Sefer Torah! It’s a Torah scroll, written by hand on parchment, in the same way that Moshe Rabbeinu, the first Sofer (scribe), wrote his Torah over 3,300 years ago!
To give us some additional insights into this fascinating Mitzvah, we’ll turn to the great Rambam, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, who will describe the process of writing a Sefer Torah and surprise us with an amazing fact – writing a Sefer Torah is actually a Matan Torah Experience (similar to Mitzvah #612, Hakhel).
Shazak Disclaimer: Although Rashi and others tell us that the commandment to “write this song” refers to Shiras Ha’azinu (the Song of Parshas Ha’azinu) which follows Parshas VaYeilech, the Talmud and the Rambam understand it as an obligation to write the entire Torah. (If you don’t know what a “disclaimer” is, look it up in a dictionary.)
Have you ever seen a child dancing with a mini-Sefer-Torah on Simchas Torah? Open it up and it looks like a real Torah… but of course it’s not. It’s printed on paper. That explains why this mini-Torah costs as much as a meal in a restaurant (not even a fancy-shmancy restaurant), yet a real Sefer Torah, written by hand on parchment, costs tens of thousands of dollars (that’s as much as a lot, lot of meals in a fancy-shmancy restaurant).
Indeed, an authentic Torah scroll is a splendid masterpiece of labor and skill. It takes years of training to learn how to form each letter and to master all of the intricate details involved in writing a proper Sefer Torah.