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.

Saturday, November 06, 2004



Thursday August 19th
Where is the Talmud reference to women being obligated in all positive non time bound mitzvot? This supports females acting as sofrot of Sifrei Torah. I *MUST* FIND THIS!
R' Dave was later helping me with his Bar Ilan CD to find some sources...Qitzur Pisqey HaRosh for one - a book written in the name of Rabbeynu Asher by his son, the Tur. Both Rishonim & both open to women writing.
I returned to West Side Judaica to drool over the seforim I couldn't afford.
I headed to A-1 Sofrei Stam on the Lower East Side - I was *so* nervous going in there. & Of course I had to get buzzed in. Not like in Israel where one can waltz in (unless one is female). What met my eyes was astounding. 2 older men, dressed in black & white like their Torahs, were peering over their beards at their work. They were helpful, in their disregard of my presence :) they didn't seem to care that I was there or not, which actually gave me a modicum of privacy to peer at thier establishment without being molested by their being attentive. They were both friendly, in their gruff Olde Country way. Occasioanlly one would shout to the other a question in Yiddish, which I barely understood, like, "Itzik, I don't like the way you made this Tzadi - come look at what you did!" I got a real kick out of them in their terribly messy business, not unlike my own workspace, nor unlike *my* sofer's studio...
There were shelves crammed with all manner of tools & materials, & every square inch of horizontal work space was taken up by piles of partially-finished projects, drawers overflowing with tefilin straps like a child fat black crayon scribbles & jumbles of gid wildly dancing over the flat & rapelling down the sides of the crowded furniture.
They chiefly buy old Sifrei to refurbish there, then re-sell them once they're kosher again. Alon even makes their own rollers!
They were very busy, but did answer all my questions about their business, services & supplies. I thanksed them heartily, took a couple of business cards, & wished them a good Shabbes.
I was exhausted! It gets SO HOT here! I completely ran out of energy, it all having been sweat out of my pores, so even theough there was a bunch of other cool stuff I wanted to do while on the Lower East Side for only the second time in my life (like check out the Eldridge St shul & scope out the shtieblakh), I just stumbled back to the subway :(
Chatted with Shuli & then later Rachel over the phone as I lazed & recovered on the patio, enclosed in the city brick & withdrawing from the hot, tired world of my Self.
My thoughts have been moving further in the direction of self-denial, contemplation, serving others. In previous blogues, I have sometimes considered, sometimes fretted over, why people don't understand me, what they take me for, how they will think of me. But all that energy of mine (& I have plenty, thank G@d) would be better spent in further prayer, additional work, retreat & service.


Blogger shanna said...

I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's Brachot 20b. I know for sure that that's where we learn that women and men are equally obligated in achilat matza and zachor Shabbat (saying Kiddush), and I'm pretty sure that flows from the discussion about postive/negative and time-bound/non-time-bound mitzvot.

9:53 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Wow, thank you, Shanna! Yup, that's where it is, alright :)
Reading both the Mishnah & the Gemara on this is another reminder that much of our rabbinic law has been a process. That often it will say, "...if you say 'a', then the logical conclusion is 'b'; but if you say that 'c', then your conclusion must be 'd'..."
So from such conversations come different traditions/practice/minhagim which spead all over the Jewish world. & as "traditionally Torah observant" has been gaining an ever-narrowing definition, we are losing much of the "wiggle-room" we once had, closing the doors on so many other rich, valid customs which have long made up the beautiful mosaic of Jewish life. It's very sad, I think.
But barukh HaShem that G@d is more tolerant than *people*!
Shavu'ah tov.

11:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That baraita doesn't support women writing sifrei Torah, unfortunately. You'd think it does, but see for instance Tosafot to Gittin 45b, and Tos Rid, the Ritva, Ran, and Korban Natanel there. I've actually just realised this post was dated August, you probably found those already. Would you care for chevruta?

6:21 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Sure - altho' I am already studying in person & via e-mail with rabbis & sofrim, I welcome any learning. Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to this post - I've been quite ill. But barukh haShem am better now, so will pursue your offer.
Oh, & yes, I'm aware of that baraita. There's so much information to collect & analyze...

12:18 p.m.  

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