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; 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.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


26 Sh'vat

1. Wear clean, white or unbleached cotton close-fitting gloves

2. As you write, lean your arm & heel of your hand on a sheet of blank paper, not directly on the skin

3. Make sure your sleeve cuffs are dry after you perform netilat yadayim/ritual hand washing & before you write

4. If you need to visit the bathroom or pass wind, STEP AWAY FROM THE SEFER! Don't put it off - take care of it, say any applicable blessings & then return to work

5. Cover the entire sheet of qlaf/parchment with blank paper when you aren't working on it & do not place anything on top of that

6. Use magnification to get the tiny details right, such as tagin/crowns, if necessary

7. Re-sharpen your kulmus/quill every 10 lines or so

8. Be sure you have that fresh yeri'ah/sheet set right side up before you begin to write

9. Careful to test your kulmus/quill on a scrap piece of qlaf/parchment in before you begin work each day & after shaping it. Do this by writing out the name "Amaleyq" & then crossing it out once horizontally. You will save all these & burn them Erev Tish'a Be-Av/the Eve of the 9th of Av Fast

10. Bathe thoroughly each day before you write

...any questions?

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Blogger Poor Mad Peter said...

Yes. Does #4 also apply to burping? :)

3:33 a.m.  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Thanks for the tips, especially the gloves. :)

6:13 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Hi, Peter! Good question - there's a dispute about that. As far as I understand, all opinions agree that a burp must be supressed while writing, since one is also not permitted to burp during prayer & is considered to be standing (or in this case, sitting) before Ha-Shem.

The Mishnah Berurah - still on prayer - states that if a burp is beyond your control, you may burp covering your mouth with your hand. The Shulkhan Aruch disagrees, saying that you can yawn while covering your mouth, but not burp at all.

Basically, you aren't allowed to express any physical functions while doing this work or, in some cases, in the presence of this work, so as not to disgust yourself - which is distracting - or behave disrespectfully toward G@d.

There's a whole other thing on yawning, too...

Mississippi Fred! Barukh Ha-Ba! I quite enjoy your blogs :)
I didn't always use gloves, but they sure solve a lot of problems around handling the parchment. Other sofrim I've seen work (like the gent in my documentary) wear a single sheath on the finger they like to rest against the skins...

Also, if the gloves have a bit of spandex in them, that'll keep them from bagging out in the wrong places & making more unexpected trouble for you!

3:50 p.m.  
Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

Very interesting, Aviel! #10 sounds like a good idea for just about everything!

5:33 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

True enough :)

6:55 p.m.  
Blogger blackherring said...


i. Wear a smock. Dyo doesn't wash out.

ii. Don't wear the same smock as you wear for the housework.

8:00 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Too true, Blackherring. Also, NEVER EVER EVER rub your eye with finger that have dried d'yo on them!

8:05 p.m.  

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