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.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Orthodox Women Chanting Megilat Esther for Men

BS"D

From Haaretz:
Top Sephardi rabbi rules women may chant Scroll of Esther for men
By Yair Ettinger
Tags: scroll of esther, israel news

Women are allowed to chant the Scroll of Esther on behalf of men if no competent men are available, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Israel's Sephardi community, ruled last week in a landmark decision liable to outrage many of his Ashkenazi counterparts.

Esther is traditionally read in synagogue on the holiday of Purim, which this year falls next week. And while some rabbis have long permitted women to read the megillah, or scroll, for other women, most do not allow women to read on behalf of men.

In his weekly Torah class on Saturday night, however, Yosef discussed the rules of reading the megillah and ruled that not only may women read it in front of men, but the men will thereby have fulfilled their obligation to hear the scroll read.
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"It is permissible for a woman to fulfill this obligation on behalf of men," he said, because the obligation to hear the megillah falls equally on men and women.

Yosef said that most rabbis forbid women to read the megillah on the grounds that men are forbidden to listen to women sing, because a woman's singing voice can stimulate sexual arousal. However, he said, he does not agree that a woman chanting a sacred text is the kind of singing that stimulates sexual arousal. The analogy rabbis have drawn between singing and chanting sacred texts has "no value," he declared.

Yosef said women should not read for men if there are men capable of doing the reading. But in a "small community" where there are no men capable of chanting the text properly, it is permissible to bring a woman to read, he ruled.

Yosef also said that women could write a kosher Scroll of Esther - another task that most rabbis say can be done only by men. He said that ancient megillahs written by women have been found in Yemen, and it would be permissible for women to do so today as well, "to earn a living for their household," since women "were part of the miracle" that the megillah describes.

However, he admitted wryly, it is an open question "whether anyone would buy it."

In both cases, Yosef's rulings were specific to Megillat Esther and do not necessarily apply to other sacred texts, such as the Torah.




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