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




Editor: Regarding the article about Aviel Barclay ("First woman to write a Torah," Bulletin cover, Aug. 22), feminism has one serious obstacle and it's all a matter of practicality.

For a sofer, ritual purity is essential. As mentioned in the article, no base metals may be used in the production of a Torah, as they would make it ritually impure. What is not mentioned is that the sofer himself must be ritually pure, cleansing himself in a mikvah every morning and being very, very careful of where he goes (visiting cemeteries is out), what he touches and what he eats, so as to not accidentally make his work impure. For two of every four weeks, a woman is ritually impure and may neither touch her sofer-husband, nor work on a Torah, herself.

To make a long story short, I am not in the least implying that a woman cannot be a soferet; what I am saying is that it is not practical. Aviel Barclay may not work on her Torah for two weeks out of every four, nor may she even have it in her home during that same period, lest she accidentally make it impure. It takes a long time to complete an entire Torah and it will take her twice as long as a sofer of equal skill. It's never been a profession that women have been actually barred from doing; it's simply impractical – and thus became tradition.

Congratulations to Ms. Barclay. I think what she is doing is wonderful. In fact, she produced my brother's ketubah. I just hope that this aspect of ritual purity is kept in mind when accepting a large commission.

The original article as published can be found here.


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