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.

Thursday, November 02, 2006



Return to yourself.
Parshat Lekh Lekha.

B'reyshit/Genesis 12:1, Parshat Lekh Lekha states:
א וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ. 1
Va-yomer Y-H-V-H el-Avram, "Lekh lekha mey-aretzekha u-mi-moladet'kha u-mi-beyt avikha el-ha-aretz asher areka"
"Now G@D said to Avram: 'Get yourself out of your country, & from your birth-community, & from your father's house, to the land that I will show you'.

"Lekh" means "go" in the masculine imperative. "Lekha" can be interpreted as moving towards one's Self. Go inside & discover the Great Mystery which is You. This is the beginning of the journey of Av Ram - the Great Father, or "Big Daddy" (hat tip to Danya!).

The words lekh lekha look exactly the same as each other when written in Hebrew:
לך לך
It's the vowels which differentiate the one from the other.

There is a midrash which teaches us that while we grow in our mother's womb, an angel teaches us the whole Torah, then touches us on the philtrum to cause all we've learned to rest in our subconscious. We then spend our entire lives seeking the wisdom which already lies within, by having what are popularly called "learning experiences".

When you look at the letters of the words "lekh lekha", they illustrate the path we take to return to our true selves. The letter Lamed (ל), whose root means "to learn" & whose pictographic shape is that of a goad, reaches higher than any other letter of the Alefbet. The letter Khaf (ך) means "palm of the hand", the thing we grasp with, & in its final form drops low down. With these letters we can learn that the journey of returning to ourselves requires learning lessons & grasping those lessons. & that the learning experiences may bring us to the very heights of joy, or to the depths of despair. Or both. & that these are necessary steps along the way.

As the Kotzker Rebbe once said, "If The Holy One were to reveal our true essence to us, we would be unable to survive for even an instant". Does this sound familiar? If it does, it's because The Holy One tells us in Sh'mot/Exodus 33:20:
וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא תוּכַל לִרְאֹת אֶת-פָּנָי: כִּי לֹא-יִרְאַנִי הָאָדָם, וָחָי. 20
Va-yomer, "Lo tukhal lir'ot et-panai, ki-lo yir'ani ha-adam ve-chai"
& He said: 'You cannot see My face, for humans shall not see Me & live.'

Because the essence of each & every human being is tzelem El@qim, the image, or the shadow, of G@d. Our souls are each a sacred spark from the One Source.

May we all be blessed to accept our lessons graciously, learn them so as not to have to repeat any, & have faith in the loving G@d who teaches us these lessons while we navigate the difficulties. May we all know our true selves.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006



You can see the kindness in this man's face, can't you?
Rabbi Avi Weiss @ Soferet Synagogue
This man is a great, great rabbi. His whole life has been about social justice, while remaining within the boundaries of Orthodox Judaism. He has much admiration from me. Google him & see how he not only acts on behalf of all Jews but non-Jews & those who have left this world as well...

We were very lucky to have R' Weiss visit us at Shaarey Tefilah last night. He was a great alternative to sitting inside our homes, praying that no teenagers drunk on their first beer were going to inadvertently turn our neighbourhoods to ash with their wanton shooting off of roman candles & various other fireworks...
...for such is Hallowe'en in Canada.

I hadn't met with R' Weiss in, oh, 5 years or so. It was the Decemer after 9/11, my first ever trip to New York, & the World Trade Centre site was still smoking. The air was heavy with its citizens' breath & the skeleton of the devastated buildings were mapped out on each person's face as I passed them in the street.

& I was meeting with R' Weiss to beg for his help to take one step closer in finalizing my sofrut education, a journey I had already been on most of my life.

I won't do his message justice here, but he spoke of "positive Judaism" - a Judaism not defined by what you're against. Denominationally, most Jews seem to choose their camp based on what they cannot tolerate, rather than embracing what they believe is good & right (according to R' Weiss). He strongly encouraged us to avoid negative inspiration, as it doesn't last & deeply poisons us.

He spoke of the war with Lebanon/Hizbullah this summer. He was there, too, as I was. I have tremendous respect for R' Weiss, because he is a firm, yet gentle Zionist; his Zionism is founded on Torah & not on fear or xenophobia. Israel, he said, is surrounded by terrorists. True, we have signed peace accords with Egypt, peace agreements with Jordan - but it's a cold peace. He spoke about how the whole of the Jewish People have a covenental relationship with G@d & the Land; ie, we do our part & G@d will do G@d's part. Some Jews forget this, that the Land is a gift in exchange for fulfilling our half of the deal G@d struck with us. It's a priviledge to posess &/or to live in the Land & not a right. The only thing G@d promises us in the Torah, said R' Weiss, is that the Jewish People will never be extinguished. We are eternal. However, if we don't do our part, then we will not possess or be able to live in the Land. The State of Israel is not eternal. It is an opportunity.

& how do we support the current State of Israel in actualizing the final redemption?
We can visit. We can say tehilim. We can do mitzvot. We can pray. We can give tzedaqah. We can learn Torah.
We have to constantly earn the reward, or it will be taken from us, G@d forbid.

B'reyshit/Genesis 3:9, Parshat B'reyshit:
וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, אֶל-הָאָדָם; וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ, אַיֶּכָּה. 9
Va-yiqra Y-H-V-H El@qim, el-ha-adam; va-yomer lo ayekah
& the L@RD G@d called unto the earthling, & said to him: 'Where are you?'

R' Weiss said that G@d wasn't asking literally, "I can't see you, where did you go?". Of course he knew where Adam & Chavah (Eve) had hidden themselves - & why. G@d's question was more like, "Something has changed with our relationship, on your end - where are you at with us?" G@d wanted to hear His creations explain what was different for them, from their point of view.
& he said that each day when we pray, we're answering G@d's question for G@d & for ourselves as well - where are you - I'm here - I'm here...
...don't go...please...

Teshuvah is the answer to the question "where are you?"
My eyes filled with tears when he said this.
Soferet Learning at the Feet of Rabbi Avi Weiss
As you can see. I'm cradling my newest scroll here as I absorb as much of R' Weiss' wisdom as I can.
My Hebrew name is Avielah T'shuvah. T'shuvah is a name commonly given to girls born on Rosh Ha-Shanah, as I was.
It's the feminine future construct of a word whose root can mean return, respond, repent, she is constantly in flux & re-paving her way toward her true self, to where G@d wants her. So naturally, this touched me deeply & has altered my prayer experience. I bless R' Weiss for that gift.

After his inspiring talk I showed him my latest Megilah & he said it was beautiful. I thanked him because R' Ross Singer, my Rav, had consulted with R' Weiss (& other Orthodox rabbis) about me & sofrut & greatly helped me due to his influence. I owe him a lot, as do the women scribes coming after me.

Suffice to say, I want to be like him when I grow up. Except for that being a man & a rabbi part. But you get my drift. We all have an ethical obligation to stand for something outside of ourselves. With G@d's help I'm turning my life's work into work for others' lives.

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