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, August 07, 2005

SO LONG, ELAT CHAYYIM, WITH LOVE FROM SOFERET

בס"ד


2 Av

I hung out with Akiva, my new buddy, over brunch & just had a fabuous time! He & his family are so wonderful, as in full of wonder, & I feel blessed to have made their acquaintance.

I skipped the Hippy-dippy love-in closing circle. I'm sorry if that sounds disrespectful. It isn't meant to be. It's meant to be an affectionate expression of why Jewish Renewal for 17 days in a row is more than I have room for in my Self. Renewal is doing some very important things in the world, IMHO, & I thank them for that. But for me, the last couple of weeks has brought me a little too much groovadelic universal love. Too much chesed (loving-kindness), not enough gevurah (strength/discernment). I prefer my environment to be more balanced...the river (chesed) does need a riverbank (gevurah) to provide its boundaries. Otherwise, it's not a river.

& We won't have the separation of land from water which G@d made in the beginning of creative-ness. & G@d said this was good.

& look where we'd be if the land was always swamped by the water...
& look if our holy letters (gevurah) were not clearly discernable from the parchment (chesed)...

I don't mean to sound critical, it's just that I've now taught through 10 days of Kallah & a week of Elat Chayyim back to back, & it's just a little too happy-clappy for me. This is why I dip my toes in Renewal & bring what I consider of value in it back with me to my home community: the kavanah (focused intention), the music, & the striving for higher, broader consciousness.

But basically, I'm just an ordinary Orthodox girl...

Today was much like the last day of Kallah - very weird & frenetic. I'm looking forward to getting back to writing in quiet, away from all the intense charisma & demanding personalities. I'd still love to come back & teach here next year, tho' :D
I had terrific students, thank G@d.

We drove through New Paltz on our way east. It's an adorable little college town with that Dutch/French/German settlement feel you find in much of New York State.

We then proceeded to take the wrong route to our friend's place in Connecticut & got lost in Peekskill. The town where the sitcom "Facts of Life" unfolded, with Blair the rich girl, Jo the poor girl, Tootie the African-American girl & Natalie the Jewish girl. Since my next-oldest sister & I went to private school, we made sure we watched it every week. That & "Mork & Mindy".

Anyway, I think Peekskill has changed. A lot.

After a fascinating exchange at the gas station with a local man giving us directions, we picked up kosher Chinese in New Haven & brought it to Adam & Maggie's, where we rested & visited & looked forward to the next leg of the adventure.

Good night.

6 Comments:

Blogger Barefoot Jewess said...

I'm glad you expressed what I feel about Renewal, tho you are kinder than I. Renewal, does, indeed, add something to Judaism and Jewish experience and that needs to be highlighted. But I really do balk at the love and peace stuff. Never heard it explained in terms of balance before. A good one! I just find it offputting myself- perhaps because it feels anchorless to me and ultimately solipsistic.

Am waiting for the day, though, when just being an ordinary Jew is more important than what movement we affiliate with. I'm thinking the messiah may have come by then.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
I agree with you entirely, Barefoot. I think we can bear, klal Yisra'el, to move closer to one another & ultimately unite; but only so far as souls in separate embodiments can. Beyond that is not only impossible, but vain somehow.

& I, too, look forward to a day when each Jew is just a Jew who is married to his/her own personal truth of what G@d is & no longer to an insitiutionalised version of an idea.

Call me a Qara'ite. Call me a Gnostic. Heck, call me an apikorus. I believe we will achieve our greatest potential as individual & as a people once we relinqish what I call "the idolatry of denomination".

...& may Moshiach come in our days.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

This post made me smile! I can completely understand why 17 days of Elat Chayyim and Kallah would overwhelm one. (I'm not sure I could do the two back-to-back, either, and I adore Renewal davvening.)

I like your point about balance between chesed and gevurah. For many of us, I think, places like Elat Chayyim need to be a little heavy on the chesed because we don't get enough of it elsewhere in our lives (especially our religious lives). Sometimes E"C feels to me like an antidote for the painful encounters with Judaism that so many of us have had -- the ones that made us feel unworthy, unwelcome, unwanted.

I wonder what it's like for the residential community at E"C. I suspect they don't immerse as deeply in the lovey stuff because they're there all the time; they can get a little of it when they need it and then step back. Maybe they crank up the chesed so that those who are only there for six days can get enough lovingkindness to carry home with them?

3:59 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
You are 100% correct with that second paragraph, IMHO.

I think your guess is pretty accurate, Rachel. I mean, I think you've been to E"Ch more frequently than I & I'm sure you have more Renewal experience as well. From the little time I've spent there I have noticed that the residential community folks do have a sense of boundaries & certainly are not shy about reminding the retreatniks about the rules they need to follow to facilitate a "boundless chesed experience" for everybody.
I tend to duck when orders are being given...
;+>

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

I'm so excited to hear the Elat Chayyim residential community mentioned! Living at EC we give and get plenty of chesed (loving-kindness) and we also exercise strong gevurah (with other community members and with guests). After a short amount of time living at EC it becomes very clear that without gevurah one's personal needs for autonomy, personal time, and self-expression would be severely limited. Bottom Line: too much chesed can be oppresive just as too much gevurah can be alienating.

And Thank G-d for the technology, intelligency, creativity, aspiration, life, and electricity that make this form of communication possible!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
Simon! Thanks for commenting! & I love what you've done with the Elat Chayyim web site - kol hakavod :D

4:36 PM  

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