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.

Monday, June 05, 2006


9 Sivan

After the shiva time I took to grieve our marriage & after my trip to teach in Winnipeg over Shavu'ot, I'm going to catch up here a little.

The rabbis were very kind to me, inviting me to sit close while the get was written so I could learn more. "Here, you're a soferet, how do you erase?" they asked. These were black-hat/Ultra-Orthodox/Charedi men, treating me very gently through a process I never wanted & acknowledging my education & profession, even though in their world a woman would never do the work I perform. There was some business small talk about letters & tools & why the Hey has to be written in bold in the get between us (my ex went for a walk). I'll probably never write a get, as the sofer must be appointed by the husband to act as his agent & I doubt that I can act as a man's agent in this instance according to Halakhah. But I appreciated their acknowledgement & care very much. The Seattle Va'ad are good people.

The act of ritual divorce is too intimate to record here. In some ways, more intimate than the act of ritual marriage.

After it was all over, all the rabbis & the sofer wished me all the best, asked how I was getting home & if I was ok (I'd silently wept the whole two hours, stopping only to face my ex in the ritual). One rabbi brought me home so his wife could feed me juice & cookies while he taught me the Ben Ish Chai's gematria on the Alefbet. He just wanted to cheer me up a bit. He succeeded. I left with an invitation to stay with them for Shabbes any time & some cool "new" things to teach others, B"H.

I then was welcomed into another of the attending rabbis' homes for dinner with his family. Their kids were all over me, which proved to be very grounding, thank G@d. They were serious about offering me comfort & drawing my attention to the bright future I have. All in all, I was much better rested & cared for than I had expected on this trip. I had taught in Olympia the day before & the Reconstructionist community there put me up in a gorgeous Victorian B&B. The private bathroom even had a clawfoot tub! I loved learning with them, too - the kids were great, there was a Muslim family who came to learn Hebrew calligraphy, the adult ed presentation in the evening was wonderful...I met with all kinds of beautiful souls. All these things served to strengthen & prepare me, B"H.

G@d is taking good care of me :}

As I drove north in the night, back to my now officially companionless home in Canada, I chanted the Wayfarer's Prayer for protection along the way. Three times I sang Sh'mot/Exodus 23:20 to the tune my ex wrote for us:

  הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָךְ, לְפָנֶיךָ, לִשְׁמָרְךָ, בַּדָּרֶךְ; וְלַהֲבִיאֲךָ, אֶל-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר הֲכִנֹתִי.

Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
Hineyh Anokhi sholey'ach malakh lefanekha lish'marekha ba-derekh, ve-lahaviyakha el ha-maqom asher ha-khinoti

...Ve-lahaviyakha...& to guide you...the word inside our wedding rings which will never be worn again.

May I somehow remain on the derekh, the path where G@d puts me, with joyful acceptance.

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Blogger alissa said...

I'm so glad that such a painful, difficult experience had such a lovely bright spot to it. It's amazing the good things that can come from sad moments, if we are open to them.
kol tuv

12:44 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Yes, that's true. But really, we have to be open to the good, no matter where it appears, otherwise the bad moments will be all bad & we'll miss that shred of consolation that G@d might be sending us. & who wants that?

My feelings & thoughts about all this still are that it was awful & unnecessary. I thought my path to doing G@d's will included being married to Joel. Do I grieve this marriage & the children I'd hoped we'd have, or all the children I might ever have had the chance to have, G@d forbid? I don't know.

There is still turmoil in the wake of this door closing. G@d willing, a window will open somewhere...

12:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Oh, my dear, my dear. I am glad that you are working your way through this, and I know deep in my bones that you will come out of this period of pain blessed in new and wondrous ways. I wish for you that I could speed the healing.

Turmoil makes sense. I can't see how it would be otherwise. But I believe deeply that good things are in store for you, and that healing will come, and that you will be blessed beyond your current imaginings.

Thinking of you, with love.

5:10 p.m.  
Anonymous Hernan said...

Hi, I am one of the people that you taught in Winnipeg and I just wanted to say that you do beautiful work.
More on-topic, why did you need a Get from Seattle if you are from Canada?
May you stay on the right path and all the best

7:16 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Rachel, thank you. No wonder you do chaplaincy work - you truly know how to comfort, even over the internet from 3,000 miles away :}

Hi, Hernan - mazal tov on the very important work you do & thank you for your kind words.

We would normally have worked with the Vancouver Bet Din, as one is supposed to co-operate with the Halakhic jurisdiction of one's city. But my ex moved back to the States - he's American - & time was of the essence for him. So since the Vancouver Bet Din takes longer & he lives in Seattle anyway, we had the Va'ad there settle the matter.

I was assured by both the Vancouver Bet Din, one member of which assissted me in this process, & by the Beth Din of America, that the gittin overseen by R' Maimon in Seattle are considered 100% foolproof kosher. Really important, especially for me &, G@d willing, my future children.

Although now with this crazy move by the Rabbanut of Israel stating that conversions & divorces done in the Diaspora don't count for beans in The Land unless performed by one of their 50 pre-approved rabbis, sigh...

7:30 p.m.  
Blogger Emily said...

Oh Aviel you took my breath away (and brought tears to my eyes) with this post. You are amazing.

7:32 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Hi, Emily. Thank G@d, I'm getting a LOT of help & a LOT of support.
On a Halakhic note, I've been informed by a very religious rabbi who reads this blog that according to the Kav Naki, a woman may write gittin - even her own get!

7:40 a.m.  
Blogger Al said...


The most beautiful moment of intimacy that I have ever seen was around the time of Sukkot this year between you and Joel after netilat yadayim. You put the wedding ring back on Joel's hand and he did the same for you.

The looks you exchanged, the blessings you quietly said to each other [I couldn't hear them] were loving and caring. I felt like I was intruding. I was sitting near you both, so I it was hard not to notice. Knowing now what was probably happening for you both at the time doesn't change how I respond to it.

The renewing vows with another every time after washing hands is a powerful message. I'm glad I witnessed it and will do the same in the future.

You may not wear your wedding ring again, but it has served its purpose.



9:10 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Sorry, Al, I don't think I'm understanding you when you say you will "do the same in the future" & that our wedding rings "have served their purpose". Could you please elaborate?

9:19 a.m.  
Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

Aviel- I can only say that I wish for you only joy and happiness for your future- and that G@d is infinitely wiser than any of us can imagine. Take care...

10:44 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Ameyn, Regina. Ameyn selah!

10:49 a.m.  

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