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, September 18, 2005

OK, SO THE RAMBAM & I ARE ON SPEAKING TERMS AGAIN...

בס"ד


14 Elul

I taught ShalhevetYah, my class on Heeb calligraphy & midrash at noon in Wilder. Such bright lights in the eyes of each student! & such gorgeous letters they made!

Spent the rest of the afternoon with Rambam's Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Tzitzit. Why? Well, as those of you who follow my blog know, I'm mildly (or modestly) obssessed with HaQara'im, or Karaites, in English. I have been learning many fascinating things about how Karaites fit in with our current Jewish world, including the fact that is we watch them schecht (ritually slaughter) an animal, then it is considered kosher for us & we are allowed to eat it. I still have not done anything with the Karaite tzitzit which I ordered months ago. I am still researching what might be the best way for me to use them to perform the mitzvah of tzitzit. Although I have worn tzitzit in the past & said the brakhah over them, I have not ever made the neder to officially take it on, to self-obligate. My intention here is not to just take on every single mitzvah as a man, & therefore turn myself into a spiritual eunuch. However I must carefully learn each mitzvah & examine my intention with it; discover whether I truly believe I am obligated before I act. I do not wish to take this lightly. It is intended as a permanent step toward G@d.

The Rambam does say, after all, in Mishneh Torah 3:9 "Women & servants who wish to wrap themselves in tzitzit may do so without a blessing. Similarly, regarding the other positive commandments which women are not required to fulfill, if they desire to fulfill them without reciting a blessing, they should not be prevented from doing so."
Now, the Ramah advises against women wearing tzitzit in Orach Chayim 17:1, saying that it would be a sign of conceit. So perhaps I shall wear my tzitzit inside my clothes when (not if) I take on this commandment.
Aso, the Magen Avraham states that - I'm paraphrasing - that since women are given a measure of a reward for fulfilling mitzvot we are not obligated in, this indicates that we are somehow "partially" commanded & that saying the blessing is appropriate.

So far, the Karaite tzitzit seem to physically fulfill everything Rambam has to say about them in this volume. I say "physically", because, for example, they are indeed of sheep wool;
no more than 8 strands, 7 white with 1 blue (none of which have to be dyed blue, btw, but the Bar Kokhba's soldiers wore a single strand of tekhelet in their tzitzit, so that's good enough for me);
the blue is darker than the tekhelet produced today, however, it is still the colour of sapphire, which is a stipulation made in Menachot 43b. & don't argue with me on this one, because before i was a soferet, I was a gemologist, so don't try to tell me what the colour of sapphire is;
According to Kinat Eliyahu, Mishneh Torah 2:4 implies that any permanent blue dye may be used; as the whole reason to use tekhelet is that it was the only permanent blue dye that existed for them at that time & place & the permanence is the point, not the source;
tied in "g'dilim" (braids or chains) as Deuteronomy 22:12 states they must be;
more than 3 segments & less than 13;
However, I have not yet confirmed that they were spun for the sake of being used in the mitzvah of tzitzit. Nor do I know how the wool was obtained. So I don't know of they are kosher for a Rabbinist Jew like myself in the "invisible" ways which tzitzit must be kosher...but I can always just ask them :)

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