Netivat Sofrut: diary of a Soferet

Adventures of a female sofer learning to heal the world by doing Holy Work...writing a Sefer Torah

נחזיר את השכינה למקומה בצייון ובתבל כלה

"Let us restore the Divine In-Dwelling to Her Place in Zion & infuse Her spirit throughout the whole inhabited world."

So wherever we are, let us bring the Peace of G@d's Presence.

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Location: Vancouver/London, British Columbia/UK, Canada

SCRIBAL EVANGELIST As the only living certified Soferet (סופרת - female Jewish ritual scribe) & the first woman to practice sofrut (creation of sacred Hebrew texts) in over 200 years, I feel an obligation to blog about my experiences of The Work. I am also currently researching the foundation of a lost tradtion of women practicing this holy craft. For more on the services I provide, please see; Sofrut Nation. I am now available to engage with students, male or female, wishing to enter into the preliminary stage of learning sofrut. You are welcome to join me on this path. "Tzedeq, tzedeq tir'dof - Justice, justice you shall pursue." Devarim/Deuteronomy 16:20.

Friday, September 12, 2003



Monday, August 25th

Inbal & I had a great breakfast in my flat this morning! There's nothing like sharing a meal with good friends!

I had a one hour lesson with my sofer. We covered Dalet, Reysh, Vav...I learned also that the turkey quills not just fatter & thicker, but less flexible & if cut shorter/less tapered suit heavy handers like us. Very important to know...

Inbal & I walked to Migdal David (David's Tower) because neither of us had been there before & they had these interactive plays going on on several languages. They had actors in period costumes stationed at various places around the citadel to teach people about the history of that part of the Old City. We were really excited about it, so were very disappointed that the tickets were all sold out. We strolled around the front (free) part of the grounds as they were about to close to the public (read non-ticket holders) anyway. It was interesting & fun, what we *were* able to see, but I'll have to go back again another time.
We were boiling, so we searched the Rova for cold drinks that would pep us up - & we found a place that served qafeh barad @ central square in Jewish Quarter! YAY! I finally asked Inbal what "barad" meant. She said, "Well, it's from Pesach, the seder."
"Barad is one of the 10 Plagues - it means 'hail'."
I laughed my guts out! "I'm drinking a Plague? That's *so* GREAT!" We lazed in the shade of the café at our table & just people-watched. It was fascinating. There was a Charedi (ultra-orthodox) guy in the square, out in the boiling sun, with a box of tefilin (phylacteries). On the box it said, "Tefilin - Just do it" with the Nike swoosh. He was stationed there to encourage unsuspecting Jewish men who looked like they weren't observant to put on the tefilin & teach them the blessings. A special kind of person stands out in the midday summer sun wearing black wool & a kippah AND a hat *just* in case the opportunity might arise to help someone do a mitzvah (commandment/good deed), to do kiruv (outreach). Poor guy - the whole time we sat, all the men he approached veered away & ignored him.
There were 2 tables of French (Jewish) tourists near us. That was fun - they looked so happy & relaxed with their kids. I got to eavesdrop a bit, too - my French (being Canadian) is much better than my spoken Hebrew. Inbal leaned over to me & asked in a whisper, "Aviel, what language is that?"
"Oh. So nice to be able to understand!"
I smiled. I didn't feel like such a Prole now. Still, I must improve my spoken Hebrew ASAP. My reading & writing ain't bad, but that doesn't get you far in a country where everyone is in such a hurry.
After our rest in that rare patch of shade, Inbal & I walked to the Kotel. We came down the south western steps leading to the Plaza & were stopped by a crowd about halfway up. The security wasn't letting us in. There was a bomb that had been smuggled in & they'd cleared the area so it could be safely diffused. We had no idea how long we might have to wait, so we settled in on the steps with the other tourists & pilgrims. More chatting & people watching. A Charedi man in a long black coat approached us with a handful of 10 sheqel coins, shaking them rhythmically. "Tzedaqh, tzedaqah..." he called. He looked at each of us in the face.
"Tzedaqah for a Kallah." he stated. Providing for a bride who is too poor to have a wedding is a very high mitzvah, so I opened my wallet & gave him another 10 sheqel coin. It's not much, but it adds up. He was very happy for my donation. He smiled.
"Thank you. Thank you. Are you married (I was wearing my baseball cap)?"
"Yes." I grinned sheepishly. I still can't believe it.
"May you have a good husband. A good wedding & a good husband." He said, smiling. I thanked him emphatically. I didn't expect a blessing from giving charity - I just did it because it was the right thing to do. How sad, to have the opportunity to marry & have money barring the way. I'm poor myself, so I empathize with this girl, whoever she may be. He kept blessing me as he backed away, respectfully & I continued accepting his wishes for me, making eye contact, until he vanished into the crowd. It was only then that the importance of his blessings really sank in. "May you have a good husband". Suddenly the worlds of difference between a "good" & "bad" husband & how radically different my life would be with one or the other (G@d forbid) really hit me. This is the home I wish to build with my partner & dwell in the rest of our days. You can't underestimate having a good partner.
We alternately stood & sat for ever, it seemed, just 50 metres from the Wall (not the Pink Floyd one, the Jewish one!), only being able to look at it & it's empty Plaza. Not being allowed to approach it or touch it or pray there. Very disheartening. Inbal wanted to take the bus home after we'd prayed, but we couldn't get to it, since we had to cross the Plaza to that stop. The stop where the last suicide bomber got on bus #2 & exploded in Me'ah She'arim, taking 22 others with him to their deaths.
Eventually we left & made our way back out through the Old City & up Yafo to the next-nearest bus stops, where I said goodbye to her & waved her away with a big smile. She's so great!
I was up for an adventure in Me'ah She'arim - so off I headed. On my way there I passed a plaque on a stone wall next to a driveway which read "Shalhevetyah Centre". I smiled. That's a word from one of my favourite parts Shir HaShirim. The Shalhevet Yah is the holy flame of G@d that burns, but does not destroy. Love is called the Shalhevet Yah in these verses.
The streets were CROWDED with people! & there I was again with exposed wrists. I overheard a comment in Hebrew about my ponytail. That either I was married or I was not married, so if I'm covering my hair because I'm married, I should cover ALL my hair, not have this provocative blonde ponytail bouncing about behind me. OY. I won't come back here again unless I'm more thoroughly covered.
I hiked home home through the colourful Ben Yehudah street fair.
Did my homework - made copious notes in my cahier as well.
I journalled till 2 a.m.

During this time I came to the realization that the negativity & dross that's been filling up my open heartspace along with the holiness...the closure of my space due to bad vibes is from the fact that this is, in potential, a very dangerous place & there's so much tension & hatred & intolerance - not just between Arabs & Jews, but between Jews!!! This is *not* "Yerushalayim shel Zahav"("Jerusalem of Gold"), this is *not* the Yerushalayim of R' Shlomo Carlebach's songs. Maybe it used to be. I have faith that it *can* be, as I fight my ko'ach ha'medameh (power of negative, hopeless illusion) & remember that Moshiach Consciousness is coming & that Olam HaBa is waiting for *us*...

B'sha'ah tovah...


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