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.

Thursday, September 04, 2003



Monday, August 18th

Expenses so far incurred without receipts: Internet = 10 NIS, 5 NIS, 20 NIS, 53 NIS, 10 NIS
Tzedaqah = $5 US, $5 US, 30 NIS, 10 agurot, 10 agurot, 5 NIS
Water = 10 NIS, 10 NIS, 5 NIS, 5 NIS, 5 NIS
Art/Sofrut supplies = 19.90 NIS, 55 NIS
Went to my sofer's & just had a magical time in the presence of him, his clutter, his amazing art & wow, I'm just speechless :)
It was really quite breathtaking & *almost* overwhelming to be back in his studio & just around his person. There was old work, new work, indescribable poetry & images. wonder he's one of my heroes :)
His wife & children dropped in while he & I were having tea (he's *so* fussy - it's kind of endearing & alarming at the same time) & we hugged & chatted.
They congratulated me on my engagement & looked really happy & excited. After they left he gave me a shopping list & told me to go to a particular place in Me'ah She'arim, "if I wanted an experience"...I said yes, of course, but would they sell me the goods? He said, well, tell them what you really want to do with it & see what kind of an experience you have :) He asked me to buy him a Tiqun Tehilim if they had & gave me 100 NIS. Watched him work on a ketubah.
Into the bowels of Me'ah She'arim I went, list in hand, surrounded by the rough hewn stone plastered with warnings to women about modest dress, patchy sidewalks (if you can call them that), stained roads & the most indescribable odours. Everywhere there are men & boys. They wander the sidewalks with their eyes turned away from me if they're over, say, 10 years old. To the younger ones I'm a curious sight with my bare forearms & they stop their street games to stare. This one is Bratzlav, the other Kotzk. Followers of R' Areleh Roth abound in their striped kaftans...those look *so* comfy! It's like wearing your pyjamas ALL the time! I wanna join! :)
I happen into the sofer supply place & am met by a couple of young, overweight men dealing with the sofer & an extremely stern middle-aged looking woman in a chestnut-coloured sheytl (wig) sitting on a chair facing the entrance. She stared at me hard - the only way she'd stop is if I looked back at her for a bit too long. There was a clock on the right hand wall between the door & the shelves with all the goodies. It had a slot in it to put tzedeqah, so I popped 10 agurot in there, hoping they'd hear the sound & feel like they could trust me. It was rather like being in the jungle, my being more concerned with their image of me that I was able to carry my own Self to them. I removed my shades, again hoping that would facilitate his eventual co-operation. "S'licha" - I slipped between the stern woman & the two men & began browsing the shelves...I WAS IN HEAVEN! So much klaf & bar magnifiers & d'yo (ink) & erasers & knives! YAY!
I took a small bottle of Nahari ink & found a qeset (inkwell) for myself & put them on the lower shelf in front of me. There was a special sofer ST"M drawing table/lightbox made of gorgeous wood in the back, complete with qeset holder, lamp & a shelf. I drooled. I didn't dare ask how much, but BOY would that table make my fantasy job faster & easier...I also found a couple of boxes of mezuzah klaf already cut & scored! & they were only 10 NIS! & they came in different sizes! I was so excited I wanted to buy the whole shebang, but I just took note & will come back later when I know how much money I have left. I'm going to e-mail my potential mezuzah clients in the meantime...
The kindly old sofer asked me in Hebrew if he could help me. I put the ink & qeset down on his table & asked "Yesh l'kha sheysh kulmusim (do you have 6 quills)?" & he showed me that he only had uncut ones, the turkey feathers were 4 NIS each & the stripped ones (with fletch removed) were 5, so I just got 6 of the unstripped ones & asked for a Tiqun Tehilim, which he didn't have, but he told me that I could call the number of the publishers of the tiqunim he had there on the shelves. It was a number in B'nai B'rak. A town so religious that they don't have a police force. Apparently everyone there is too afraid of G@d.
I made my purchase (only 104 NIS!) & asked for a cheshbon (bill). He was very helpful & I won't be so freaked out next time I go :)
Perhaps my baseball cap - worn principally for the sun, but with the added bonus of giving people the impression that I'm married - is what did the trick. He may have assumed that I was in doing an errand for my non-existant sofer-husband.
I sauntered out of Me'ah She'arim I into Strudel to treat myself to a celebratory beer. It was so yummy. Weinhefeshaften or something - wheat beer from a 1027 recipe. Hung out with the ne'er-do-wells there, including a guy from Toronto, who was obsessed with the Tragically Hip to the point of believing that "Bob Kagan" was written about him at his summer camp & tried to guilt me into making aliya, a woman who forced her parents & a beit din to allow her to choose her own name for herself when she was 5 ("I was very stubborn") & the sexy granola serving wench with her puppy called "Nekafah" (which will remain untranslated).
They were curious about my bag of feathers, so I told them what I was up to & they thought it was really cool. There's always a great flow between secular & observant people when one of them is a boundary-crosser, provided the crossing is out of expansiveness & love.
I walked home.
Barukh HaShem.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never take no for an answer. Do what you feel will make God happy, not what others tell you that you should feel.


2:55 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Thank you, Jonathan, for such a thoughtful & kind comment :)

1:37 p.m.  

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