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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004



My work & home life have pressed down on me so hard the past while I've had barely any time to sleep, let alone blog. I am grateful for this, but it is very trying.
I have had to take on all the extra work - mostly ketubot - I can find to make ends meet. If my earning the heter hora'a of sofrut is to mean *anything* to the world or to other Jewish women, I must be able to make a living at it. This will be the real trick.
My body is perpetually curving inward & to the right due to the hours I spend bent over the Sefer. I am unable to work vertically on it as the ink suspended beneath the tip of my quill leaps to the parchment & creates unintended blobs which must be allowed to dry & then carefully sanded away. There is no time for this, so I must work on the horizontal until a miracle happens.
My poverty prevents me from returning to Pilates, but I can at least afford to visit my chiropractor each month. I used to see my massage therapist each week so she could unravel me, but this has also become too costly. The best I can do right now is to periodically get myself to physiotherapy so I can prevent a full-blown repetative stress injury. I refuse to hurt myself, jeopardise my future *or* leave off from this work.
My bent back does keep me in a certain amount of discomfort - I wouldn't call it pain yet. But it adds to my tiring out earlier & slowing down. I seem to be writing fewer letters per day, even though I am writing for longer hours. I must solve this problem asap. For now all I can do is take on even more art work & accept speaking engagements & teaching gigs - I prefer these as they get me out & connecting with real people & I stretch my body.
There's been pain randomly surfacing in various parts of the left side of my body. I imagine because it must stretch to compensate for my right side crumpling up.
But I'm really not complaining. I would rather suffer like this to do this Work than not do it at all. That also brought me much suffering, but of a different kind. One of the soul.
Just call me Quasimodo ;+>
I spoke not too long ago at the beautiful community in New Westminster. They treated me so kindly - picked me up & dropped me off, even though it was a really far distance to travel. They were such enthusiastic, open-hearted people! & such questions! I held up a piece of uncut qlaf to a window so the light would shine through & they could see all the patterns of the skin. It really was a lot of fun - people came from a Xtian college in Washington State to hear me speak, even. They were really a joy to spend time with after the talk as well. Some very bright souls there, & a real feeling of community support & commitment. I'm still in contact with some of them & hope to be teaching there in the Autumn.
On another note, we had a Shabbat not too long ago where a prospective new rabbi & his wife (R" Ross & Emily are moving to Israel) came for a "job interview" type visit. They were quite wonderful - we ended up hiring him, so I look forward to celebrating the Chagim with them next month! Anyway, during his drash on Shabbes, he was speaking about how our shul is progressive & happened to mention, as one of his examples, that we were the first Orthodox synagogue to have a woman write them a Megilat Esther. Afterwards, one of our members, who every 6 months or so makes a crack at me, said, "Well, I'm sure *you* really liked the rabbi's d'var."
"Uh, yeah - I think everyone did. I saw a lot of nodding heads." I replied, confused at what he said. It was only later that I understood. He is subtle enough & I try to practice ayin tov (seeing people in a good light), so I didn't immediately get his drift. Each time he's said anything about my learning or work in sofrut, he's always implied that I'm doing it to serve my ego. Perhaps I'll go on absorbing his remakrs indefinitely or perhaps I'll take him aside at some point. We'll see.
G@d wll pull the plug on me, I hope, & on anyone, who risks turning holy work into a vehicle for ego enhancement.
There is so much more to say.
So many other stories now coming to mind which I have neglected to tell. But I must chase sleep while I can.

Please, G@d, keep me realistic, practical & humble.


Blogger Poor Mad Peter said...

We are such complex creatures whose motives are frequently least apparent to ourselves. Not to dismiss this man, who is as much G@d's creation as you and I, but some of his motives as I see them here are negative ones, and he is reacting that way to you (and feminist women). I am heartened by your perspective on this, and hope you can maintain this fragile balance.

5:19 a.m.  

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