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.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

THREE WEEKS

בס"ד


17 Tamuz

Fasting was a unique experience today...

My ride with Magid Yizchak Buxbaum, his wife Carol - who is also an amazing magid (magedet?) - & Galeet Dardashti, a fabulous soprano full of beautiful Mizrachi song.

It seems that some people would like to see a further liberation of women into sofrut, beyond what may be allowable under the current Halakhah. They get very excited talking to me about the potential that could be unleashed, but I feel like this should be approached with caution. I absolutely believe that this is the time for women to be further included & empowered, but within certain traditional boundaries. So I want to be careful who I teach because I refuse to be responsible for the whole system of sofrut to unravel in this generation. Am I talking like I have a lot more influence, have a lot more power than I actually do? Probably. I'm not interested in keeping the knowledge of this sacred craft secret from women who are called by HaShem to do this work, but the Halakhah requires that whoever writes Sifrei Torah be shomer(et) mitzvot. This is very difficult for me, because I have a policy to not judge how other Jews practice, & turning a prospective student down who intentionally or habitually eats pork products (for example) could be construed as a negative judgement. It wouldn't be meant that way. But there has to be an integrity of life practice behind the sofrut practice. As in all things...

We drove out to Horowitz's farm & spent midday learning & listening. The place was so quiet & green. They had 60 acres & two gorgeous dogs & a hand-built fence with no nails, pegs or glue.

6 of us repaired to the barn to share our stories of how we were drawn close to G@d. I wept as I told the tale of how my Dad's sudden death when I was 16 left me feeling abandoned by HaShem & very, very angry. It was only when my writing hand was crushed by that car at 22 I realised that G@d was not going to let me off my derekh so easily. & it was only in this group, as I told my story, that I realised that G@d had in fact never abandoned me during that dark time, but that I was the one who had abandoned G@d...
Barukh HaSHem for this revelation!

My ride home with R' Sarah Leah Schley was really lovely. She's teaching a Zohar at Kallah & I'd love to be a fly on the wall of her class :)

The rest of the day was all a blur. I'm just so grateful to have made it here safely & soundly, im yirtzeh HaShem.

Shavu'ah tov.

3 Comments:

Anonymous evgenya said...

Beautiful post, as usual!

Thank you.

On a related topic to women scribes and their necessary level of observance, what ideas do you hold towards woman rabbis? Since I don't know much about what Halacha says on this, perhaps, when inspired, you could post what you know and think on the matter.

When I ask male rabbis why women are not 'allowed' or 'encouraged' to become rabbis, the answers range from

a) it's just not practicle given the Nidah laws, Kol Iesha (woman's voice), familial duties, modesty issues, etc.

to

b) The man's role is outward toward the community and a woman's role is inward toward the home and family. full stop.

So, I guess my question is this: If you feel that a Soferet needs to live an observant (orthodox) life, do you think the same of a woman rabbi?

I realize that your 'judgement' of women wanting to be Soferetot is a necessary step in deciding whether or not to teach them, and you may not hold the same expectation of rabbis.

sounds like you and Joel are on a wonderful adventure together. Thanks for sharing.

hellos to Joel!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

I have so exactly the same problem. People want me to teach them, but I don't want to teach people, women or men, whom I don't think are shomer mitzvot, cos I don't want to be responsible for releasing pasul Torahs into the world [that only makes sense on the premise that I believe women's Torahs are kosher for kriat ha'Torah, which I do].

But then that involves me looking at someone and saying "you are/aren't frum enough" which is so problematic. But I'm just not happy with the idea of teaching someone who eats treif on purpose - unless they had an absolutely exceptional attitude towards hilchot sofrut, I suppose. It's a tricky one, isn't it? Sigh sigh.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
Hey, Ev.
I have so much to say about that! But I have to start teaching in 10 minutes, so I'll formulate something for later today :)
Jen - yes, very inappropriate & awkward. But don't they know that you aren't certified in Torahs yet? Do you think people just ask what they want from women because they think we're "easier"? I suspect that very strongly. Even tho' I've been certyified for almost 2 years, I know that I'm clearly not ready to start passing put smikhat sofrut to anyone. When I teach, it's to empower Jews to check their own Mezuzot & the philosophy of sofrut, but oy vey - I may be a soferet, but I'm still just a baby soferet, so I have more to experience before I properly mentor anyone.

5:55 AM  

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