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.

Saturday, September 16, 2006



I'm in Portland, healing a sick Sefer Torah & staying with some very special people. I was on my way to shul this morning to give over this drush, but I fell down the stairs & the concensus between the adults in the household was that I should not walk on my injured leg. So I never had the opportunity to share this with the community I wrote it for, but you can read it below:

Soferet's Large Letter Lamed

There is an enlarged letter Lamed in this week’s Parsha, Nitzavim, in Devarim/Deuteronomy 29:27.

וַיִּתְּשֵׁם יְהוָה מֵעַל אַדְמָתָם, בְּאַף וּבְחֵמָה וּבְקֶצֶף גָּדוֹל; וַיַּשְׁלִכֵם אֶל-אֶרֶץ אַחֶרֶת, כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה.

“Vayit’sheym Y-H-V-H mey’al adematam b’af uv-cheymah uv-qetzef gadol va-yash’Likheym el-eretz acheret kayom hazeh:”

“So Y-H-V-H uprooted them from their soil in anger, & wrath, & great fury, and cast them into another land, as is to this day:”

The word in which this enlarged Lamed appears - “va-yash’Likheym” (& cast them) - is from the same shoresh/root as “tashlikh” - to throw out or away; exile. Like what we do with bread crumbs on the afternoon of first day Rosh Ha-Shanah (when it’s not Shabbes, like this year - then we save it for second day), & symbolically to our sins, contracted spaces & narrowness which needs healing.

Context: Devarim 29:21 reads, “A future generation, consisting of your descendants, who rise up after you, along with the foreigner from a distant land, shall see the punishment directed against that land (Israel), & the plague with which G@d has struck it… ”

Followed by 29:23, “All the nations will ask, ‘Why did G@d do this to the land? What was the reason for this great display of anger?’”

Then 29:24, “They shall answer, ‘It is because they (the Jews) abandoned the covenant that G@d, L@rd of their ancestors, made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.’”

The verse immediately following, 29:28, says,

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת–לַיהוָה, אֱלֹהֵינוּ; וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ, עַד-עוֹלָם–לַעֲשׂוֹת, אֶת-כָּל-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת.
“Ha-nistarot (Esther/Nestor/Nistar/Astoroth) la-Y-H-V-H Eloqeynu ve-ha-nig’lot lanu u-le-vaneynu ad-olam…”

“The concealed is for G@d our L@rd, & the revealed is for us & for our children forever. We must therefore keep all the words of this Torah.”
So… why the letter Lamed? The pictographic shape of Lamed is that of a goad - that’s an instrument with which we coax animals to go in the direction we want, rather than the direction that they want. Sort of a non-electric cattle prod.

The Shoresh/root is the same as that of talmud/limmud/learn/teach. So here we have “a big teaching”, as my friend Chaim Rothschild Lev yesterday said to me about this.

R’ Chayim Dovid Ha-Levy, z”l, the former Chief Sefardi Rabbi of Tel Aviv, was a great scholar, posek & Kabbalist. He said that anytime we see an enlarged letter in our writings, that is a place where G@d takes over the direction. That Ha-Shem steps out of the status quo & is proactive about something. Example: the enlarged letter Bet which begins the Torah. B’Reyshit bara Eloqim…

So here we see that Ha-Shem is goading us away from the direction we would choose to go & instead take the path which G@d wants for us.

Talmud Bavli Yoma 29a tells us that there are 22 saintly women in our history, each with a quality which represents a letter of the Hebrew alefbet. The letter Lamed is the symbol of Devorah (Haftarah Beshallach = Judges 4:4-5:31). Who was Devorah? She was named after Rivqah’s wet nurse, who died at the same time as Rivqa (B’reyshit/Genesis 35:8 Parshat Va-yishlakh) & was buried in that area. & what did Devorah do? She judged for us & decided questions of law for the whole nation - a posek, or poseket. She was considered to have been a vessel for the ru’ach nevu’ah/spirit of prophesy. She also goaded Baraq - who was commanded by G@d to go to war with Sisera. Ha-Shem guaranteed Baraq would be victorious & yet he, feeling unworthy of such a miracle, refused to go to war unless Devorah accompanied him. Baraq felt that only her merit would guarantee his success. Devorah’s response: “I will go with you, but the path you have chosen to go will not be for your glory. Ha-Shem will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman.” In Devorah’s song, Judges 5:1 - 31, she sings of how when the people of Israel devote themselves to Ha-Shem, they travel safely, the land blossoms & there is no war made against us. But when we forget G@d, we experience calamity.

This enlarged Lamed prophesies the coming of Devorah ha-Neviyah. Just to remind us about being very careful of the path that we choose.

Shabbat Shalom

Cross-posted at Radical Torah.

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Blogger Avromi said...

Good afternoon,

I linked to you in one of my posts today on the daf yomi. I'm just a little curious. You seem well versed in all the sources of a woman being a soferet? Have you received a psak like the drisha in regards to writing a sefer Torah?

Thank you

Avrom Adler

1:43 p.m.  
Blogger Evenewra said...

And to follow up further now that I actually had time to read some of your entry beyond the first few words...

OUCH! Refuah sleimah!

6:04 p.m.  

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