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.

Friday, September 22, 2006



I admit that my whole life I've wanted to work hard, protect people, save the weak & provide sanctuary to those who've been ill-treated. All rolled into a skin of perfectionism & baked to a golden brown. But apparently, that's a stressful way of being in the world because it's impossible to achieve.

Today I had the opportunity to help someone I did not know & thank G@d.

I wandered into a store, browsing for something nice to treat myself to for my birthday. It was a sweet little specialty tea shop, with real teapots from Japan & such fragrant brews. I wasn't paying attention to what was happening to the back of the store. Until the shouting started.

There was a man yelling at the lady behind the counter. He was insisting that she give him money. He was small & dirty & wore grubby clothes. He carried a squeegee.

I listened. He had washed the outside of her display window without asking her permission, & then come in to pressure her to pay him. I felt bad for him, because he was probably homeless & trying to earn a living. Until I heard her tell him that this was the third time he'd done this & that he had to ask her first. That it was unfair for him to demand money without making an agreement in advance.

But he just kept yelling over her. I started watching them, because her voice got higher & smaller & he kept interrupting her. She was having a hard time keeping up with him because her English wasn't so great & he kept shouting over her. She said she'd call her husband & ask.

She spoke with her husband on the phone in Chinese & then put the phone back on the hook. She asked him to come back another time to speak to her husband, that her husband didn't want her to give him anything but that he could speak with him when he was in the store.

The squeegee man started to threaten her. Disgusting, unspeakable threats. Like I wasn't even there. So I walked over to the counter & stood by the lady - who had by now said over & over, "I'm very afraid of you & I would like you to please leave my store" - so he could see that I was there witnessing. I wanted to do more, but I couldn't get a read on this guy & for all I knew he was hopped-up on drugs or armed (a squeegee can do a lot of damage).

"Yeah, well, you should be afraid" he said. She was fighting back her tears, "My husband is coming soon". But once he woke up to my presence, he began to retreat, hurling threats & curses, telling her he'd be back & that she'd be really sorry.

Ugh. This poor lady just broke down, so selfconcious that she was crying in front of a strange customer. "Are you ok?" I asked. She nodded. It wasn't true. She was weeping over her Bible, her small gold cross pendant shuddering along with her fearful breaths. "Are you always in here alone?" Yes. "You can't let him keep coming in here & treating you like this. He has no right to threaten you. Would you like to call the police?"

She called her husband again & I waited. She asked me to call the police for her because she wasn't confident with her English. So I did. At least open a file, I thought. I get that the squeegee man was desperate for cash, but this poor woman shouldn't keep being terrorized. I walked outside & scanned for him on the street. He was in the next block washing another store window. So I gave a description & described the event. Not much else to do, really.

She thanked me profusely, but really, I didn't do anything more than any other strange customer would have. I tried to buy an adorable little bamboo spoon from her (I wanted to cheer her up by buying something & I happen to like the cultural/home-building/commitment symbolism of handmade spoons), but she wouldn't let me.

"I don't want to take any money for this". Ach!
"But I want to pay you - I didn't pick this out hoping that you'd just give it to me for free because I helped."
She put it in a little gold bag for me, & smiled for the first time. "I know. I know your mind. But I also know my mind." She held it out to me.
I smiled, "Thank you - it's my birthday..."
"Oh! Very Happy Birthday! You are such a kind & nice lady & so beautiful..." she trailed off into tears again.

Good thing I didn't try to buy one of those cool $75 Japanese teapots.

"Can I do anything else for you?"
"Is your husband coming soon?"
I offered to leave my phone number in case the police wanted to speak further with me. Probably not, but who knows. She enthusiastically accepted. I offered to stay with her until her husband arrived, as it was obvious she was still scared. She said I could go, that it was alright. I just wish I could have done more for her.

Suffering begets suffering. If the squeegee man hadn't been abused or fallen on hard times, he wouldn't have behaved that way toward the teashop lady. It's so hard to be a person, to act rightly when we are in a state of lack. But we have to. G@d requires that of us. Thankfully, G@d is also compassionate.

Shabbat Shalom, Shanah Tovah u-metuqah, ve-g'mar tov.
Sabbath peace, a great & sweet New Year, & may we all be sealed for a good year, whether we are squeegee men or teashop ladies, or somewhere in between.

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Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

That was a beautiful story, Avielah... one never knows when an opportunity can arise to help someone. How lucky and blessed we are to be in the right place at the right time.

4:57 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Yeah, we really have to see & take those opportunities.
BTW, if that's actually a pic of you in the lotus position, I'm totally jealous!

9:16 p.m.  

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