Contradictions in Shulchan Aruch III

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Is a Sofer Required to Explicitly Declare “l’shem Kedushat Sefer Torah” when writing a Torah?

There is some question whether a sofer is halachically required to explicitly declare “l’shem Kedushat Sefer Torah” when writing a Torah and/or when writing the name of God.

In OC 32:8, the Shulchan Aruch writes that “the parchment must be processed with a gall-nut solution or lime mixture and it must be processed l’shma. It is proper to verbally state at the beginning of production that one is producing the parchment for the sake of Tefillin or a Sefer Torah. But if it was manufactured for the sake of a mezuzah it is passul”.

This seems to imply that a verbal declaration is a “proper thing” to do, but that it is not an outright obligation.

One the other hand, in YD 266:2 the Shulchan Aruch writes that “one is obligated to verbally declare before writing a Torah that one is doing so l’shma – for the sake of the holiness of a sefer Torah. If he did not do this, his writing is passul”.

This seems to imply that a verbal declaration is mandatory.

How do we reconcile this contradiction?

Perhaps there is a “de-facto” l’shma regarding the production of klaf since it is certainly going to be used for something sacred. However, when writing a Sefer Torah, a declaration is vital to distinguish between writing for practice or even for study, and writing for the sake of a true Sefer Torah.

Should One’s Tzitzit Strings be Exposed or Tucked into One’s Clothes?

It is written in the Beit Yosef (OC 23) that “the tallit katan –-including the strings– should be worn under one’s clothes”.

However, in the Shulchan Aruch he writes that: “One is permitted to enter a cemetery while wearing tzitzit as long as the strings don’t drag upon the graves…In our day and age, when the tallit katan is worn specifically for the mitzvah, it is forbidden [to enter a cemetery] even if the strings do not drag upon the graves…but if the tzitzit strings are tucked in then it is permitted”.

This seems to imply that in ordinary circumstances the tzitzit strings should be worn outside of one’s clothes.

How do we reconcile this contradiction?

It appears that the Shulchan Aruch prefers that one wear one’s tzitzit in an exposed manner (OC 24:1,2). However, perhaps this is simply his preference, but not a halachic requirement.

Is hirhur k’dibbur (are one’s thoughts the equivalent of one’s speech)?

In OC 62:3, the Shulchan Aruch writes that “One must hear the words that come out of one’s mouth. If one’s prayer was not audible one still discharges one’s obligation, as long as one articulated the words with one’s mouth”.

This seems to imply that hirhur lav k’dibbur dami. (See also OC 47:7 with Biur Hagra).

However, in the very next halacha (OC 62:4) the Shulchan Aruch writes: “…but if one was sick, or otherwise due to force majeure, one recited Shema ‘in one’s heart’ one discharged one’s obligations”.

This seems to imply that hirhur k’dibbur dami and that in extenuating circumstances one can discharge the mitzvah of Shema by means of hirhur.

How do we reconcile this contradiction?

Some want to suggest that according to Torah law, hirhur k’dibbur dami. The rabbis, however, required one to articulate the prayers that one recites. As such, one must certainly endeavor to articulate all prayers, though ultimately, one is still discharges one’s obligations with hirhur alone.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot.


  1. One the other hand, in YD 266:2 the Shulchan Aruch writes that ….

    I think you meant to cite 276:2

  2. R’ Ari:

    276:2 seems to be referring specifically to the kavannah needed for writing shem Hashem, each time it is written, and certainly does not have anything to do with eebud haklaf which is a separate halacha.

    To me, the contradiction here comes from YD 261:1 where the SA uses the term “tzarich” with reference to eebud lishma, which seems not to jive with the term “nachon” in OH 32:8. Inexplicably, the Shach (note 3) refers to OH 32:8 as proof that stating ones kavannah explicitly (as opposed to merely thinking abt it) is me’akev bedieved.

    That’s really strange.

  3. Oops. I meant to say YD 271:1, not 261:1.

  4. Thank you for this input. I will bl”n add your points to the original manuscript for publication in my next sefer.

    Ari Enkin

  5. MiMedinat HaYam

    i thought the specification is only cause one cannot use a sefer torah intention klaf for tfillin / mezuzah, and / or vice versa. so (perhaps) some general specification suffices? (esp since small / leftover pieces are the ones always used for these “smaller” needs.)

  6. R’ Ari:

    See R’ Akiva Eiger’s note on OH 32:8. He asks your kashia and leaves it in a tzarch iyun, but baruch shekeevanta on the question.


  7. On hirhur kedibbur
    The mechaber ruled like the the אורחות חיים that writes according to the yerushalmi by a אונס one is יוצא with hirhur therefore the mechaber writes that one needs to say it except by a אונס so essentially there is no contradiction only the question is how does that make sense if hirhur kdibbur then even if it weren’t an אונס it would work with hirhur another question is that the Bavli when discussing if hirhur kdibbur is talking about a bal keri which is a אונס and almost all rishonim rule that hirhur lav kdibbur which is clearly not like the yerushalmi so why does the mechaber ignore the Bavli?
    But the gra doesn’t agree to me because he writes that the source for the first halacha is the Bavli and the second the yerushalmi!?
    The easiest way out is the ערוך השולחן who writes that the mechaber never meant that he is actually יוצא only that it is a good thing to (as רבינו יונה writes in ברכות טו)

  8. Is this a series of Setirot within the Shulchan Aruch, or is it about Setirot between the Beit Yosef and the Shulchan Aruch (or other of Rabbi Karo’s writings such as Avkat Rochel and Kesef Mishan)?

  9. …within Shulchan Aruch primarily. There will probably one more installment after 9av.

    Ari Enkin

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