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, April 13, 2005



I have been verbally assaulted once again because I am a woman writing a Sefer Torah. It doesn't seem to matter that I am an Orthodox-certified Soferet who has been writing & repairing ST"M for years. All some people see is my gender & they don't investigate any further.

I come to this issue by way of faith & I am inspired to share my discoveries. I believe that Jewish women writing the words of G@d, this story not only of the Jewish people, but also of the world, is for the common good: everyone can benefit from this unfolding.

To tell me that I am harming my "female neshamah" (soul) by doing a "man's job" is simplistic, superstitious & without foundation in Halakhah. This does not deal with real struggles in real peoples' lives.

I take G@d's word seriously, so it calls me to pursue justice. It's BECAUSE I am a Jew of faith that I am on this path. It's this kind of radical faith that requires us to engage with the world as it is & gently turn it toward peace & fairness.

Our G@d is a personal G@d, but not a private G@d. Our G@d is a G@d of relationship, always reaching out to us, giving us another chance, forgiving us again & again. Why deny Jewish women this relationship with G@d through the Holy letters of the Alefbet?

Basically, my attitiude toward anyone who criticises something they don't know about is this: I encourage you to avoid making the mistake that G@d needs you to push your version of His Torah on others. You never know when you might be blocking His revelation coming through another by doing this. You must be humble to be a zealot. Live your life in accordance to your interpretation of Torah & let G@d make the judgements.

& pray that G@d grants peace between each brother & sister in Israel, so that we can finally stamp out our sinat chinam (baseless hatred) of each other, & be one People again.

Ameyn Selah.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, huh? I've been thrown out of shuls so many times for wearing tefillin. Why were they looking into the women's section anyway, if they're so frum?

4:59 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Well, exactly. I quietly shake my head in despair any time a Jew practices something which is permitted & another Jew stands in his/her way. Like throwing chairs at women praying at the Kotel or chasing a woman with short sleeves with broken bottles. I don't understand how anyone could use Torah to come to rationalise such behaviour.

Why don't we all stand up & applaud each other for taking on more mitzvot than the bare minimum?

As the Trenchtowner Rebbe, HaRav HaGaon Bob Marley, once said, "Get up, stand up...stand up for your rights."

7:03 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

By the way, I'm really very sorry to hear that you were treated so disrespectfully, Jen.

7:10 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't we all stand up & applaud each other for taking on more mitzvot than the bare minimum?

I read the best answer to that question EVER in an article on women and tzitzit. I forget the author, but the argument went along these lines:
1. Tzitzit are voluntary for women.
2. Therefore, any woman who wears tzitzit is doing more than she needs to be doing.
3. But some men don't wear tzitzit because they aren't very observant.
4. Therefore, women who wear tzitzit are doing it from arrogance, to show that they, doing this voluntary mitzvah, are so much better than men, some of whom don't even do the mitzvah at all.

I mean, really. Beat that for a ridiculous rationale. You can't do any voluntary extras because people will think you're being arrogant because some people don't even do the bare minimum. Go, guys!

6:33 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

I think the article you're referencing is Aviva Cohen's piece in Jewish Legal Writings by Women, called "Fringe Benefits".

I agree with her argument you've outlined above, which paints a picture of men barring women from increasing their piety in order to save male slackers from embarrassment.

This is where we get the "a talit is a male garment" argument, preventing women from fulfilling the mitzvah of tzitzit at risk of breaking the commandment against wearing men's clothing (beged ish).

Although I got many laughs this Purim by wearing my husband's wedding clothes (& he mine), I also got some dirty looks because I was wearing pants - the shirt was very long & tsenu'ah/modest, so it was like I was wearing a dress - & his talit qatan. I think a sense of humour is an important quality to have, & is certainly required on Purim ;+>

Anyway, I see this situation - where women are discouraged from taking on voluntary mitzvot (except those extra days of niddah, you'll notice, that was no problem) to save face for so many men out there who are less observant, as a sort of "Dog in the Manger" story. If you don't see any value in something for yourself, then don't stop others from enjoying it.

Perhaps if we used Commandedness as a guideline, ie that we have to perform certain tasks or behaviours because G@d said so, & we didn't let our egos get in the way when others who are conventionally excused from some of these also choose to express their Judaism in the same way, there would be less friction.

11:27 a.m.  
Blogger Barefoot Jewess said...

Amein, sister!

6:38 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

By the way - I love your shoes ;+>

6:50 p.m.  
Blogger Rachel said...

It's BECAUSE I am a Jew of faith that I am on this path. It's this kind of radical faith that requires us to engage with the world as it is & gently turn it toward peace & fairness.

YES! Thank you so much for saying this -- and for making your life a blessing for all of us who admire what you do. :-)

6:44 p.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Aw, shucks
(kicks dirt with toe)

6:43 p.m.  

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