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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

LEHITRA'OT

BS"D


My Mum has had an accident, so I must head straight for Victoria. Please pray for her complete & speedy recovery.

I only just realized that when I changed my blog's time zone to Israel from than Pacific, that it changed ALL of my posts times, not just the ones I wrote since coming to Israel. That means when I change it back to Pacific time when I return to Vancouver, some of the entries will appear to have been written on Shabbes :(

This is very very bad.
I keep Shabbat - really!

Qever Rachel - Rachel's tomb - was an adventure. We boarded a special bullet proof bus with IDF soldiers as escorts at the front & rear doors. They rode along with us, M16s drawn.

Breyshit/Genesis 35:16 - 20:


טז וַיִּסְעוּ מִבֵּית אֵל, וַיְהִי-עוֹד כִּבְרַת-הָאָרֶץ לָבוֹא אֶפְרָתָה; וַתֵּלֶד רָחֵל, וַתְּקַשׁ בְּלִדְתָּהּ. 16
And they journeyed from Beth-el; and there was still some way to come to Efrat; and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
יז וַיְהִי בְהַקְשֹׁתָהּ, בְּלִדְתָּהּ; וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמְיַלֶּדֶת אַל-תִּירְאִי, כִּי-גַם-זֶה לָךְ בֵּן. 17
And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said to her: 'Fear not; for this also is a son for you.'
יח וַיְהִי בְּצֵאת נַפְשָׁהּ, כִּי מֵתָה, וַתִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ, בֶּן-אוֹנִי; וְאָבִיו, קָרָא-לוֹ בִנְיָמִין. 18
And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing--for she died--that she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
יט וַתָּמָת, רָחֵל; וַתִּקָּבֵר בְּדֶרֶךְ אֶפְרָתָה, הִוא בֵּית לָחֶם. 19
And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Efrat--the same is Beth-lehem.
כ וַיַּצֵּב יַעֲקֹב מַצֵּבָה, עַל-קְבֻרָתָהּ--הִוא מַצֶּבֶת קְבֻרַת-רָחֵל, עַד-הַיּוֹם. 20
And Jacob set up a pillar upon her grave; the same is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.


When you look on a map of Israel, it looks like Jerusalem & Bethlehem are far away from each other, but they're really just 2 or 3 kilometres of tense No Man's Land apart. A couple of weeks ago I took the wrong bus & ended up south of Ramat Rahel, which is right at the Green Line. There were even turrets & fortifications, complete with scars from bullets & shrapnel. I was still officially in Jerusalem, but I was surrounded by sheep, mosques & fences.

The bus to Rachel's tomb hurries along a deserted road right up to the security wall & drives right butt up against it. Then it makes a sharp curve to the left, where a parallel security wall runs alongside the opposite side of the bus. Basically, we're speeding down a 2-storey-high corridor just wide enough for this one bus to pass through.

At the end of the narrow concrete hallway is a huge metal gate laced with razor wire. More IDF soldiers appear & open it so we can pass through. The bus pulls right up to the entrance. The security wall, now 3 storeys high, surrounds the tomb. There is nothing else here. We are instructed to walk straight from the bus into the mausoleum & that we have 20 minutes. The driver is quite serious.

Shot of the entrance of Qever Rachel, taken from the door of the bus:
Soferet @ Rachel's Tomb Entrance
Notice that it's fortified, is covered with camoflage & sandbags, & has turrets.

Sandbagged defensive window, narrowed toward the outside to facilitate shooting:
Fortifications at Rachel's Tomb

The soldiers usher us in & we wash for prayer. There is a man collecting alms for the local yeshivah. The men & women each gather at our respective sides of our mother Rachel's cairn & pray the afternoon service & say psalms. This is a view into her tomb from what used to be an outside door. The embroidery on her cairn depicts how the quaint little building used to look before it was turned into a fortress:
Soferet in Rachel's Tomb

At the end of the alotted 20 minutes, the soldiers began ordering us out of the building. On my way out, the same way we came in, I snapped this view of the security wall in between the front door & the bus:
Security Wall from Entrance to Rachel's Tomb
The bus driver & all the soldiers were commanding us to go straight onto the bus, & not tarry around the entrance. We had to either be under the shelter of the facade or in the bus. They said it wasn't safe. There are apartment blocks right behind that wall.

Our bus shunts around & heads back out the wired gate & back along the cement tongue-in-groove corridor back to the relative safety of the central bus station. Is it really this bad? Are these the lengths the we legitimately have to go to in order to make a pilgrimage of faith to the grave of one of our most revered foremothers?




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2 Comments:

Anonymous alissa said...

I consider myself to be very blessed that I was able to visit Rachel's Tomb when anyone could walk right in the front door, way back in 1987.

I have a photo of my ex coming out of the entrance. It was flanked by two soldiers. That was it. Unfortunately, I remember nothing else of it - not even if I actually went inside (I must have, though, because *I* was the one who wanted to go in the first place).

I also remember being home one week later, and watching on the news the burning rubble of what was left of the bus station and fruit stand that had been directly across the street. It had been blown up.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Soferet said...

BS"D
Yes, Alissa, you are blessed that you could experience Qever Rachel when it was still an gorgeous little building in a neighbourhood of Bethlehem.

Fortunately for you, you were nowhere near the terrorist attack that murdered sincere pilgrims & (temporarily) destroyed our way of getting to her tomb in order to express our devotion.

I'm sorry I never had the chance to see it as it was then, before the trouble worsened...but then again, I'm grateful that I could go there at all.

& as you can see, not only is there no bus atation or fruit stand across the street from Qever Rachel, there's nothing - not even a street anymore :(

8:26 PM  

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