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 Soferet.com; 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, May 21, 2004

BS"D

VOWS, FASTING & FEAR

Chodesh Tov! It's Sivan!

So I took on some nedarim (vows) at Pesach. It became obvious to me that I had some major processing to do, so I made a neder to G@d to fast erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan, the day before this new moon.

Originally I wanted to take on a vow that I would fast erev Rosh Chodesh every month, like a Yom Kipur Qatan. But that made Joel twitchy. He's very concerned that I always have enough nutritous food to eat & fluids to drink. I'm so lucky! Besides, once we're married he can Halakhically annul my vows. I feel very divided about this - on the one hand, why should anybody have authority over the vows made by a full grown adult female? One the other hand, what if I make a poor selection for a neder? What if I make a neder for the wrong reasons or what if I don't consider it thoroughly before I declare it to The Holy One? I mean to say, I'm only human. Times like this, I'd like a failsafe :)

I had also considered becoming a nazir (consecrated/dedicated to G@d) for the time I would write the Sefer Torah. Some people thought that was very cool. Others told me I was crazy. I'm used to that. The thing that I realised was that it's extremely difficult to be sure that there are no alcohols or grape products in many foods, as they're often chemical extracts. So until I'd done much more research, I wasn't going to become a nazir. Besides, at the end of the nazir period, I'd have to shave my head, & Joel wasn't a big fan of that, either :)
fiancés, man! What can you do?

Actually, this is all wonderful. I love being engaged to him. We're both well, I think part of our partnership is that we're sort of each other's "boss" in a way...that's not the best way to describe it...but Jewish Law recognises that there are some things a husband should have the last word on & some things a wife should have the last word on - & they're not the ones you'd think! All this doesn't sound so PC, I know, but it's real & it works & it's right (for us). I'm looking forward to our chupah & the life we're, G@d willing, going to build.
He's a good employer :) I think I'll keep him!

ANYWAY, I'm fasting for clarity & for tshuvah. & I find fasting a very effective & satisfying spiritual tool with which to draw closer to G@d. The tshuvah (repentance/response) & re-orienting & re-grounding I could feel happening even early in the day - my prayers have been more sincere & focused & thoughtful. "T'filah" actually means "self-examination", but it's translated as "prayer". So as the fast was working on me, I asked for strength to correct some of my faults that sometimes get in the way of things...

...like fear.

I know that sometimes my Din (the s'firah of judgement) is perhaps stronger than it needs to be. My fear of unworthiness has interfered with my fully embracing of writing this Sefer Torah. A holy priviledge, but a frightening prospect. I was at a shiva home & ran into a good friend of mine, a Kabalist rabbi, who asked me with stars in his eyes what it felt like to write G@d's name. I told him I hadn't done it yet. "What? Why not?" I told him I was afraid. That I would make an error or that I hadn't earned the priviledge somehow. I'd been writing amudim (columns) of the Sefer which didn't include any of the 10 holy names I would need to recite a special blessing over. "Aw, you've gotta write G@d's name," he said with a smile, "with joy & happiness & enthusiasm & ecstasy! You know, you're really lucky to be able to do this." He was right. I related this to Joel & he agreed. "You have to put G@d in where He belongs, Ohev." he said.

So I fasted. Kept my stomach closed & my heart open all day.

I'm really wanting to make this a regular monthly practice for myself for ever & ever. I mean, I wouldn't necessarily fast while I was pregnant or nursing (G@d willing), but otherwise...this is so good for my neshamah, so I *want* it! Maybe I could make a life-stage vow. Sort of as a part of a particular process: my plan is to do this and when this process is over, we'll see.

It worked. I feel "cleaner" & have written more beautiful letters today. Barukh haShem!
Shabbat Shalom.

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