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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

ALEF-ETTE

בס"ד
24 Sh'vat


Thoughts on writing the small Alef: Sefer Vayiqra Parshat Vayiqra/Leviticus 1:1 says, "Vayiqra el-Moshe vay'dabeyr Y-H-V-H eylav meyohel mo'eyd leymor." - "And He called to Moshe - HaShem spoke to him from the Tent of Appointment, saying:"

"...called..." - according to an ancient regulation, the last letter of the word "Vayiqra" is in miniature. Why?

One theory is that the Sacred Text was in ancient times written in a continuous row of letters, without any division between the words. When the last letter of a word was the same as the first letter of the next, as is here the case, one character would often serve for both (Luzzatoo). When at a later time both letters were written out, one of them was in smaller size to show that it did not originally occur in the Text - an illustration of the profound reverence with which the Sacred Text was guarded by the Sofrim/Scribes. This might hold water, except that there are plenty of instances in the Torah where a word following another begins with the same letter as its predecessor ends & these letters are not written small.

Still others search for a deeper meaning. Why is this particular letter of this particular word written so? The use of the word "call" indicates that G@D wished to speak to Moshe, and purposefully called him. G@D's prophesy to Bil'am (Numbers 23:16), however, is introduced by "vayiqar", without an Alef, a word that has two connotations: chance (miq'reh) and spiritual contamination (as in I Samuel 20:26). This implies that, while G@D had a reason to speak to Bil'am, he did not do so with enthusiasm. The small Alef used in this word makes it appear like the word used for Bil'am.

The Ba'al HaTurim tells us that when G@D was dictating the Torah to Moshe Rabeynu/our Teacher on Mount Sinai, G@D chose the word "Vayiqra" to indicate that G@D had specifically selected Moshe Rabeynu/our Teacher to lead us and to show what an intimate relationship they possessed. Moshe Rabeynu/our Teacher, being "The Most Modest Man in All The World" as the Torah tells us (that's quite a thing to be able to boast about - I wonder how he dealt with writing that down?), was reluctant to enscribe this, preferring instead to write "Vayiqar" - which means "He happened by" - to suggest a coincidence in his relationship to G@D rather than his chosen-ness. That is why the Alef is so small, to express the humility of Moshe Rabeynu.

This smallness, ironically, actually serves to give prominence to the letter, drawing our attention to it & prompting us to ask questions. So Moshe's evil plot to remain un-notable actually backfired on him. There's a great lesson in that.

It also can be viewed as if it were two separate words, ie: "Vayiqar Alef...". The word "Alef" means, among other things, "to teach", thus implying that no one should learn always to be "small" and humble. No one was better qualified to teach this lesson than Moshe Rabbeynu because he was not only the greatest of all prophets, but also the humblest person who ever lived (R' Bunam of P'schish'cha).




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2 Comments:

Blogger Girl Seeking said...

Thank you! (For both the comment and the link!)

Your blog is one of the ones I love to read. I'm only starting to learn to read (much less write or speak) Hebrew, but reading the things you write about it are inspiring.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

בס"ד
You're so welcome! Your Elie Weisel quote at the top of your blog really resonates with me.

I began my learning about each letter of the Alefbet as an individual soul years ago when I wished to improve my letter-forms; I knew I would write more beautiful letters & leave better shaped spaces if I got to know them, made them my friends.

I highly recommend it :)

9:07 PM  

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