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, August 01, 2006


7 Av

I davened this morning in the beautiful tallit katan which Simon graciously gave me.
Simon's Ptil Tekhelet Tallit Katan

I've been feeling restless off & on, as I do during the 9 days. Usually I try to avoid it as long as I can. You know, put off feeling the weight of the Jewish calendar because it's so pure & real that you can't stand the intimacy. I guess I should write "I", rather than "you" in that sentence. I need to own this. But honestly, I'm no different than any other small human when I say that at some deep level we all long for the pure reality of intimacy with G@d, to be "on the inside of G@d's face" as Moses did. But it's too much to stand. Too big to hold. Too heavy to carry. Isn't it?

Kosi revaya - my cup overflows.

How to stand soul-to-soul with another?

It's hotter than Hades here; between the oppressive heat & the increasingly repressive weight of the 9th of Av approaching, I'm starting to crumble. Tisha Be-Av brings up all sorts of loss & grief for me. Personal, national, religious. To the point where I commit the sin of being cranky at everyone around me & inconsolable. Very reactive. & it builds.

Some women feel like this once per month. I feel like this once per year - during the 9 days.

I tried to blow off some steam by singing this morning. Some people go drinking, others write or do art. I do all of the above, but when the tension rises too high, I sing. I sang all the way home from my divorce - a 3-hour drive. & I sing more & more as the 9th of Av approaches. Today I've been singing Yetsiv Pisgam to an old Carlebach niggun. Singing Adon Olam to a traditional Scots Gaeligh tune, Mor Run Geal Dileas, which I figured out how to do during the aforementioned 3-hour drive. Anything to put off the inevitable dam burst.

I attempted to distract myself by going to a sofrut store - one I'd never yet explored. I saw that the little old sofer there was selling various sizes of reed & bamboo, which is what Sefardi & Mizrachi scribes use to write instead of feathers, as I was taught (being Ashkenazi). He was very kind to me & we made a bit of conversation in both Hebrew & English. I'm always very shy when I go into such places, because although I do not announce who I am/what I do for a living simply out of respect, I also will not disguise myself or lie to anyone I deal with. I picked out some reeds & bamboo from the old cardboard box & put them on the counter.

"Kamah zeh oleh?" I asked how much.
"Esrim - twenty sheqel" he replied. "Why you want these?"
"Ani rotzah la-asot...pens," I told him. I want to make pens.
"You put - " he gestured to a small glass jar of ink that he'd brought to the counter to show me.
"Be-d'yo" (in the ink), I finished.
"Ah, so you know some," he smiled.
"Here," he placed the reed he had just been using on a mezuzah in front of me on the counter. "You can have. Only don't use this for any purpose which is not holy, because I write The Name of the One with it."

I was stunned. I smiled for the first time all day, I think. I thanked him profusely, paid for my bamboo, thanked him more & headed out the door as I wished him a tzom kal - an easy fast.


All night I sat & carved wooden dip-pens for my sofrut practice. My Sofer mentioned aways back that I should try to find a sofer who would teach me the scribal ways of the Sefardim. Maybe this is the time.

My bamboo qulmusim:
Soferet's first Sefardi kulmus
The top one is the one the Sefardi sofer gave me, & the other two are ones I carved using his as a model. I know they look rather like sharpened pencils in this shot, but that's just the ink at the end, after I'd tried them out on some parchment I have sitting around on my desk.

So today wasn't a total loss. But oy, I can't wait for the Full Moon of Av to grant its total release from this spiritual agony.

May we only be strengthened, & for the good.

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