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.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

REB SHLOMO CARLEBACH REVEALED...

בס"ד

Friday, July 22/15 Tamuz

We were up & packed & out the door by 1pm, & I waved goodbye to Cleveland & its fascinating mix of architecture as we passed over the mighty Cuyahoga river, which, mercifully, was not on fire.

The trip from the southern shores of Lake Erie to the Appalatians was picturesque. We rolled into the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown at precisely 4:30pm, the latest I as a teacher was expected. We stumbled out of the car to registration, got to our room & settled in. Aaahh.

It was so beautiful to be slowly re-meeting other who I have the privilege to connect with so seldomly. Reb Mordechai, Naomi, Saul, Anne, Nancy...we have here, in the words of R' Shlomo z"l, a Holy Chevre every two years. A kallah, a gathering of Yidden representative of the full kaleidescope of Jewish thought & practice. What a blessing!

On our way to dinner we crossed paths with Barya, R' Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's son who went to Oberlin with Joel, & his bride of 1 month, Dinah Rayzel. He's a big man, like his father, & was dressed in his fine Shabbes shtreiml & caftan. When he & Joel caught sight of each other, they practically hurled themselves together. It had been 4 years since Barya had ensconced himself at yeshivat Bat Ayin & the two had not seen each other nor met each other's new wives. I was so pleased to finally make to connexion with the two of them. Very bright lights in both their eyes...their babies will have amazing eyes, im yirtzeh haShem...

After dinner there was a teacher meeting facilitated by Yofiyah. It consisted of making noises at each other as an intimate way to get to know one another in our own special way. Our unique sound is our gift, she said. I sat with R' Laura Duhan Kaplan, the new rabbi at Or Shalom, & we sighed groaned & chanted our way through the exercise. It was really funny. Folks had a good time.

Yitzchak Buxbaum, a published maggid of renown, told R' Shlomo's story about where his nigun for "Gut Shabbes" came from. It was 1938 & R' Shlomo was a boy in Austria. The Nazis had taken over & every Jew in his town was afraid. There was a curfew on the Jewish community that prohibited them from being outside of their homes after dark & before dawn, yet each male Jew would sneak into the local rabbi's home just before dawn to daven Shachrit, pray the morning blessings, & then sneak home; then do the same for mincha/ma'ariv, the afternoon & evening prayers. They were so dedicated that they risked their lives twice a day just to come together for communal prayer. Since the town rabbi was R' Shlomo's father, he & his twin brother, now leading his own community in Ste-Agathe, were ready to let people in every morning at 5 o'clock.

There was a Jew in the town who they called "Mosheleh Gut-Shabbes". Each time as Mosheleh Gut Shabbes entered the rabbi's home he would greet & say goodbye to each person by lovingly singing "Gut Shabbes" to them, even if it wasn't Shabbes because he loved Shabbes so much. In fact, he made a point of singing each word of Torah he shared with anyone, his soul was so full of joy.
As the Jews in this town became more & more afraid as the occupation's oppression grew, each time they met their davening, their prayers, became more rushed. They were so afraid about making it home without getting caught that they would zoom through their prayers & then leave.
One Friday night, Mosheleh Gut Shabbes stopped everyone. He said wait. You can't do this. You're davening down. Our prayers must always go up. So they invited him to lead Qabalat Shabbat, the Friday night prayers welcoming the Shabbes & he did. He davened with the highest, most loving, pure intention. & then it was time to do qidush & he asked that the windows be opened. Nobody wanted to do it. They were afraid that someone would hear & that they'd all be taken away. But Mosheleh Gut Shabbes stood there with the cup of wine in his hand & said look: you just have to open the windows. Qidush is the time when we witness that G@d created the world. We have a responsibility to testify to this, to celebrate the Shabbes. Open the windows.
They did.
Mosheleh Gut Shabbes recited qidush with the windows open & nothing bad happened.
Not so long afterward, Mosheleh Gut Shabbes managed to get fake passports for him & his family as well as train tickets to England. They were going to escape. As the train pulled away, Mosheleh Gut Shabbes leaned out the window, quietly waving & singing "gut Shabbes, gut Shabbes...gut Shabbes, gut Shabbes..."
His wife said stop it. They'll hear you. But Mosheleh Gut Shabbes said it's all right - I just want to say goodbye. So he went on, "gut Shabbes, gut Shabbes..."
The Nazis in the train station heard & recognised him. They dragged him off the train & beat him to death in front of his wife & children.
Many years later, R' Shlomo met with Mosheleh Gut Shabbes' son & taught his dead father's nigun to him. Because the son was too young to remember himself. & R' Shlomo also said to him, whenever you daven, remember to daven up - like your father.
& remember that whenever you tell a story, make sure it ends going up. This is what R' Shlomo always did with his stories. Even stories about the Holocaust. He always made sure that they went up.

Shabbat Shalom.

4 Comments:

Anonymous shanna said...

I see the beauty in the story, but are we not obligated to preserve our lives and the lives of others? Much as Moshele may have wanted to "say goodbye" and much as his words may have provided chizzuk to other members of the community, he was wrong to sacrifice his own life and to gravely endanger the lives of his wife and children.

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Ohhh -- you are at Kallah! I am so happy for you (and I wish that I were there...)

May your week be wonderful -- and have a fantastic shabbos!

12:31 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
Shanna - yes, you're right. I'm actually surprised & relieved that the Nazi savages didn't go after the entire family.

Rachel - YAY! Thank you! Ameynameynameyn!

5:35 AM  
Anonymous gary said...

Hi I am looking for barya. I went to school with him in oberlin. I would like to talk to him. My email is bloodbear@hotmail.com
And my name is gary arbuckle.
Thank you.

10:31 AM  

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