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.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

FAQs

BS"D


1. What is "sofrut"?

Sofrut is the practice of sacred Jewish ritual scribal writing. The items which fall under the definition of sofrut have an acronym, "ST"M", which includes Sifrei Torah, Tefilin, Mezuzot and Megillah scrolls. A male Jewish religious scribe is called a "sofer", while a female Jewish religious scribe is called a "soferet".


2. How does one become a sofer or soferet?

If a Jewish man wishes to become a sofer, he can apprentice with a sofer & learn under him or go to the Vaad Mishmereth STaM in B'nai B'raq, Israel, where he can learn in a class full of other men and achieve certification. If a Jewish woman wishes to become a soferet, she must apprentice privately with a sofer, if she can find one who will teach her. Alternatively, she can apprentice with me if she wishes to become fully certified, as no male scribes are currently certifying women.


3. How long does learning to become a sofer or soferet take?

It takes anywhere from a year to as long as it takes to learn the laws well and how to properly write the letters, among other things.


4. How many rules are there in the practice of sofrut?

Approximately 4,000, roughly 150 of which govern the shapes of the letters and how to write them.


5. How many letters are there in a Torah scroll?

Although there is a Midrash - a story used to teach about Judaism - stating that there are 600,000 letters in each Sefer Torah, there are actually 304,805 letters.


6. What is a Sefer Torah made from?

Sifrei Torah are made from especially prepared skins and sinews of kosher animals, written on with special sofrut ink with a pen made either from a kosher bird feather or made from a reed.

7. How long does it take to write a Sefer Torah?

Depending on the sofer or soferet and his/her experience and skill, it can take anywhere from six months up to two years to write a Sefer Torah, but it usually takes twelve to eighteen months. A Torah which is written over a period of time as short as six months, although less expensive, will be less beautiful and harder to read than a Torah which the scribe has taken the appropriate time and care with.


8. How do you prepare yourself physically and spiritually before you write?

I clean my body thoroughly, then immerse myself in a miqveh (ritual bath) the evening before I resume work each month. In the morning, I again wash my body thoroughly, dress, offer prayers, then begin my work with the intention of performing it for the sake of Heaven.


9. Who accepts you as a valid scribe?

Happily, my first commission as a certified soferet came from my own synagogue - an Orthodox one - for which I wrote a Megillat Esther. Although no Orthodox communities have ever invited me to write or repair a Sefer Torah for them due to my gender, I have been lucky enough to work for and with every single denomination of Judaism in my full capacity as scribe, teacher and mentor.


10. ?????
What's your question? Ask me!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do you define a scribe?
is one chosen by the Divine?

8:21 AM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
Well, a "scribe" in English can be anything from a calligrapher of original work to a copyist of religious texts. A "sofer" (m.) or "soferet" (f.) in Hebrew is somebody who counts & recounts the word of G@d - among other things - by copying it.

As far as being chosen, I believe that G@d chooses each person on Earth for something. We each have a holy, appointed task which we have a duty to complete before we die, because it is for this task we are born.

The Ishbitzer Rebbe called this the "Mitzvah Meyuchedet". The singular commandment we must fulfill, the Work we need do because it was for this we were created. To fail to complete one's sole purpose (or soul purpose!) is the most sad & serious of sins.

11:55 PM  

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