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.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Rosh Chodesh Tamuz 1

I picked up some Radzhiner tzitzit from Tree of Life in Seattle on my drive up from Portland. (**Maggid Sarah, you could get some ritual items through them!**)

Tzitzit is a mitzvah that, by reliable rabbinic opinions, may be performed by women & I've been seriously researching it & soul-searching it for a long time now. Partly thanks to Danya Ruttenberg & her very cool instructions on how to make a girl-shaped talit qatan.

In fact, when I just went back to check for links to my previous ruminations on tzitzit, I found that I was writing about this exactly a year ago here, here, & here!

My obsssesssion continued into September, but for some reason that link no workie...

Anyway, Danya's posts inspired me to make a black talit qatan out of an organic cotton tank top with Karaite fringes last year. That was the step I took, apparently necessary for me. Today I took another:

That would be my new cotton (organic again, of course) tank from MEC after I split it up the sides, prepared holes & tied on the techelet. Oh, yeah, & my yoga stuff & barbells as well :)

It was a very quiet, meditative evening, sewing & tying, saying the blessing. Not unlike an evening I spent almost 9 years ago (when I was first being mentored in sofrut) in my room on Kibbutz in Israel. I'd spent chol ha-mo'ed Sukot at the Carlebach Moshav with Alex & Dave. We helped the good folks there set up for their annual music & craft festival & then soaked it all in. My purchases included a tie-dyed talit qatan which came with its fringes untied. So on my return to Kfar Ha-Nasi, after the end of the holiday on an evening when I wasn't too exhausted from working the soil, I sat cross-legged on my bunk freshly showered to tie each knot & make each twist. Friends came, sat on the floor, watched, talked & asked questions. Leslie, Aaron, Amy, Shoshannah, Ilana, BJ...
...I only knew what to do because the talit came with a copy of tzitzit tying instructions from the First Jewish Catalogue (thanks, R' Strassfeld).

I wore those tzitzit - which were white wool, with no tekhelet - every Shabbes. The Kibbutznikim had no idea what to do with me, but I believe I was a more humble, conscious Jew for observing this mitzvah. I have no idea where my psychedelic smock is now, with so many moves & changes since then, but may this mitzvah work on me now as I walk the path of soul-making.

Chodesh tov!

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Anonymous Rachel said...

Hooray! What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful photograph.

This is not a mitzvah I have taken on, nor do I think I'm anywhere near doing so, but I have tremendous respect for my friends like you who have embraced this mitzvah. Wow!

5:51 AM  
Blogger Soferet said...

Aw, you're so sweet, Rachel :)
We are all drawn to what resonates with our souls, no? You create liturgy! You craft & perform ritual & ceremony! I have tremendous respect for you because you provide such a vital serivce to others & in such an alive way.

10:01 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Have you studied the various possible forms of tekheilet? How come you've chosen the Karaite and Radzyner ones so far?

There's also Murex tekheilet, as found at P'til Tekhelet.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Soferet said...

Hey, Steg!

Nice hat.
I have done some study, yes, but am no expert. In this old post I wrote some about both Karaite & Rambam tzitzit ideas.

The Karaite tzitzit I chose because I was coming back to tzitzit from a different place than I was approaching it originally, almost a decade ago. Back then I was a staunchly Conservative Jew, so naturally I affixed standard Ashkenazi to the tie-dye. But since then it's been a long, strange trip spiritually speaking. I decided to "play it safe" by experimenting with a mitzvah which I believed without question I am obligated to perform (despite reasonable arguments to the contrary) using a vehicle which may or may not be appropriate to truly fulfill the commandment. ie, I am not a Karaite, I am a Rabbanite; the materials, kavanah & product may be questionable...

...but all this testing was just because I did not want to take this on unless I was fully sincere & committed. Tzitzit is more than a commandment, I think. It's a relationship - or at least representative of one.

So this next step was to use Rabbanite Jewish tzitzit with techeles. & Tree of Life sells Radzhiner.

Years ago, when I went to Nishmat, we learned the bit in the Talmud where it discusses tziztit & the chilazon. At the end, we went on a tiyul to Dor, where we had the whole tekheles experience courtesy of P'til Tekhelet. I was converted! HalleluYah! We actually MADE IT ON THE BEACH! Sand, picnic table, bunsen burner, beaker, water, Murex, wool.

It was so cool...

So ever since then, I've been compelled to use P'til Tekhelet tzitzit. This has been a long process. But the expense, lack of local availability & environmental considerations lead me to make a talit katan with Radzhiner tzitzit this Rosh Chodesh.

G@d understands my meshugas, B"H.

So, wear P'til Tekhelet tzitzit?

12:00 PM  
Blogger Poor Mad Peter said...

Amen to the mitvot.

4:05 AM  
Blogger Soferet said...

I hear that :D

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Manna Eater said...

I have a spare set of P'til Tekehelet tzitzit on a tallit katan which I never use. Would you be interested to exchange them for a Soferet mezuzah?

2:19 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

Sure, Simon! Thanks :)

3:04 PM  
Blogger treppenwitz said...

I was going to direct you to the the Tekhelet site but I see Steg beat me to it. I know two of the Doctors who were instrumental in doing the research and development involved in varifying the identity of the chilazon and this as the most likely candidate for authentic Tekhelet. If you would like more info I can put you in touch with Dr. Sterman personally.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

Treppenwitz! What an honour!
(sorry - I don't comment much on your blog, but my blog has a crush on your blog)
I saw Dr Sterman in one of the videos they showed us at Dor (I think - it was a long time ago now). He was really engaging & obviously driven to bring this mitzvah back to the Jews. I much admire him. & I'd love to be in touch - thanks!

4:03 PM  

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