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.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004




Late January 2004: "...& they saw..." the very first word I wrote in the Sefer Torah, from Parshat Sh'mot, Exodus 5:19. (photo credit: Jay Zipursky

I was recently repairing a Sefer in Richmond...a very well-loved (read worn) Torah. As I overwrite the crumbling letters in the shir columns of Parshat Ha'azinu I see that what has caused much of the wear is the sofer himself. Not to speak disrespectfully of another in my profession who undoubtedly had more experience than I...

Sirtut - scoring - on the qlaf, which must be done lishma (for the sake of the mitzvah only, with no alterior motive), serves a dual purpose: it makes guidelines for the letters to hang from & facillitates the sofer in making his horizontal strokes evenly. It is this groove that one must run the shpitz of one's quill-tip along. There is wear all along the tiny ridge that he ought to have run his quill against, not over. So I have a tiny, threadlike line running through most letters to fill in because of this. As you can see in the picture above, I'm guilty of the same thing. So now I'm much more careful to keep the horizontal strokes *at* the scoring & not above. Of course, frequently one must write across that line, like for Lamed & making tagin (crowns) & all...

So on Sunday I found out that I'm teaching at Kallah! Wahoo! I'm *so* pleased! This will be my third time, barukh haShem, & I'm so grateful for the opportunity & excited & honoured! This will be my fourth Kallah, a bi-annual Jew-Do where a thousand Yidden flock from all over the world to a small US college campus to eat, sing, dance, drum, daven, learn & celebrate together. Check it out.

I know, you want to know why a nice Orthodox girl like me with a reputation to protect would risk being part of a Jewish Renewal event. Well,...I'll blog about that later ;+>

I was up all night again, insomaniac - came to work at my desk Monday morning to see the debris from the night before in front of the computer. A yoghurt container, goat cheese, nuts...apparently I crave protein when I can't sleep.

But I *did* make a GREAT point on my nib - & that made all the difference. Such a dream to write with...

Yay - I wrote 1 amud (column) in only 2 days! Shehechiyanu! My hand, my back, my shoulders & my hip are exhausted, but i'm SO HAPPY! Wheee! Now I know that I can really do it. This has been a goal of mine since the beginning & now, thank G@d, I've reached it.

I doubt I'll be able to keep up this pace, at least not *yet*. My screw started to hurt a lot too & the muscle below my thumb is given out - but I did it!

Did I not mention I have a screw in my writing hand? My paw was crushed by a car several years ago & I almost lost one of my fingers. But thank G@d I made a (long, slow & frusrating) miraculous recovery, so now I'm just bionic. :)

It does make things difficult, tho', being slightly disabled.

I watched "The Lion in Winter" on CBC until 2 am. One of my favourite movies of all time. Kate Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins & a teenaged Timothy Dalton. Such a great line from Katharine Hepburn about war.


Blogger Alisha said...

Can I just say...WOW! As if I wasn't saying it before, but realizing that you're doing what you're doing with a disabled hand, no less...

It must be really amazing to know your exact purpose in life that strongly.

Kol Hakavod.

10:38 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

I thank G@d for the accident, because my dominant hand being crushed lead me to realise that I must write Sifrei Torah, that it wasn't just a fantasy from my childhood. I also thank G@d for making me very stubborn ;+>
It helped me to heal & to accept the screw & wires in my hand & also to accept my new limitations (which are sometimes still discouraging).
Thanks for your kind words!
Leylah tov

12:27 a.m.  
Blogger shanna said...

I know, you want to know why a nice Orthodox girl like me with a reputation to protect would risk being part of a Jewish Renewal event. Well,...I'll blog about that later ;+>Please do...and them maybe I can figure out why a girl like me, with no reputation to speak of and not nearly as much at stake, is sometimes afraid to even look into the window of the wrong bakery.

7:33 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

AHh...the windows of wrong bakeries are so *nice* to peer into :)
I really believe it's important to retain our Selves while we attempt to submit to/co-operate with G@d. What I mean by that is what a shame it would be if there really only were one way to "be Jewish". If we were "cookie-cutter" Yidden, then what would Judaism have accomplished? Stealing our beautiful, unique personalities from us, which G@d gave us in the first place...
You know the story of the Yid who goes to Heaven & G@d doesn't ask him "why weren't you more like Shlomo Carlebach? or Rav Soloveitchik?" No - G@d asks this Jewish soul "why weren't you more like YOURSELF?"
It's a great mitzvah to become more & more YOU as you live your life. G@d put us each on Earth because the World needs all of our different uniquenesses. So I don't want to do G@d a disservice or chas ve-shalom, a chilul haShem, by not writing Sifrei Torah, by not realising that "marriage" is a verb, by not sharing Torah with all Jews, by not trying to raise globally healthy children, should we be blessed with them, G@d willing.
Am I ranting? Sorry - your words have really inspired me. My point is that people who will be open to "the real you" or "the real me" - folks who make excellent friends - will always give the benefit of the doubt & not rely on Morris (Ayin) to make their judgements for them.
That's why I'm teaching at Kallah (& later at Elat Chayyim!)...

10:44 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

...I guess all I really had to say to make my point is that altho' I think ma'arit ayin is a smart concept, if it is not used with consciousness & care, it can serve to imprison & dehumanise us. :(

11:57 p.m.  

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