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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



Tamuz 19

Breakfast alone, savouring the silence before the din of my upcoming class. Both the ALEPH Kallah & Elat Chayyim provide silent rooms for breakfast for those who are in a meditative space or simply which to take a leisurely path to re-entering the world each morning.

R' Daniel Siegel, who is now with his wife R' Hanah Tiferet living on beautiful Hornby Island, proposed that he have a tutorial with me. I'd love to share my knowledge of sofrut with him & told him so - he actually writes gittin (Jewish divorce decrees) already, so I'm happy to talk shop with him. I'm sure we can broaden general sofrut know-how that way.

The morning class I am scheduled to teach while here went very well on its first day - I have many eager students, kena hora, each beautiful, complex souls reaching out to the letters. I only pray I can be an appropriate conduit for the light of Torah to meet their needs.
Spirit buddy time :)
Meet the artist - checked the schedule of sign-ups
The afternoon class which I'm taking is entitled "Melitz Yosher". It was quite a trip. We began by sitting in a circle chanting a combination of "Shalom Aleikhem" ("...boahem leshalom, malachey hashalom, etc..."/"...come in peace, angels of peace, etc...") & the 4 angels ("...mimini Micha'el uvismoli Gavri'el, etc..."/"...on my right, Michael, & on my left, Gabriel, etc..."). Such a mamash holy sound I have never heard before. It was quite enchanting.
Next, we introduced ourselves by lineage. I chose to introduce myself by my paternal lineage since my Dad's ancestors were more compassionate than my mum's. So I called myself "Avi'el Teshuvah bat Aleqsander ben Asa'el". Traditionally, our ancestors have been called on to act as intercessors (which is why we invoke Avraham, Yitzchaq & Ya'aqov so frequently, as well as Sarah, Rivqah, Rachel & Leah, when we are asking G@d to have mercy upon us. We ask for special dispensations in the name of our kadmeynu, our progenitors. In their merit.
Our teacher, R' Ruth Gan Kagan, also suggested that we each invite personalities from TaNaKH or our lives & learning who we believe would make good intercessors. I chose to invite my Dad, alav hashalom, because he was so full of chesed/kindness. He used to pay the same wage to women as to men who worked for him when they did the same job. This was in the 60's & 70's, too. Also, when local Aboriginal People (Native Canadians) asked that he let them into the movies for free (he was a theatre manager) because they couldn't afford it, he did. When he retired, they made all sorts of traditional beautiful beaded jewellery for him as a thank you gift. In addition, I invited Chuldah HaNeviyah, the prophetess (because she was a compassionate woman & may have been a soferet), & the mystic Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Kordovero, who wrote possibly my favourite book on the kabalah of the Hebrew letters, Sefer Pardes Rimonim (The Book of the Orchard of Pomegranates).

We were also invited to tell why we were each in the group, why we believed we needed to cultivate this spiritual skill. Basically, my story is that from the time I was quite young, I just "knew" things. I would dream that someone was going to die & then within a couple of weeks came the death. My technicolour dreams have always held messages, which, when I ignored them, a car would come from out of nowhere & crash into me. I'm quite serious. Each time I have stepped off my derekh, my path of destiny, G@d has signalled me to take another direction. When I didn't, I would be hit by a car. I was then given time to think about my life & the choices I should make while I recuperated. This has happened several times, the last (hopefully "last" & not just "latest", G@d willing) being 3 years ago. I got very tired of it, so I have been very careful to listen & act as I am directed since then. That's why I'm a soferet s"m now.

The question we were all encouraged to explore is whether we ought to assume intercessor status? "Do I have the authority to broach a conversation with souls, angels or G@d?"

Rebbe Nachman said, if you try to do tov (good), ra (evil/broken-ness) will be present. Miniyot - opposition - is always to be expected. So spiritual protection is essential for this work. Don't spend time with people who make you feel uncomfortable. Rest. Have quiet. How do we know which obstacles mean to be a help or inspire us to try harder & which obstacles mean "STOP"? Use common sense.

We spent a good deal of the class in chevrutot (study partners) learning various traditional texts on intercessory prayer & the concept of Divine judgement, including Brakhot 58:1; Zohar 1:197, 1; Sanhedrin 38b; "The Gates of Light" by R' Yosef Gikatilla; part 2, chapter 6 of the Ramchal's (R' Moshe Chayim Luzzato) "Derekh HaShem" ("The Way of G@d"); various examples in TaNaKH & a lovely bit from Sefer Ba'al Shem Tov, Amud HaTefilah 131.

We examined the Qri'at Sh'ma Al-HaMitah, the prayers one says in bed before falling to sleep. R' Kagan clued us into the fact that any time you see something repeated 3 times in a siddur, you know it's a formula for protection. Say it 3 times. It's a goody. We looked at Pitum HaQetoret along with Psalms 91 & 121.

The hubby & I walked each other to the cheder ochel (dining area)...boy, the air is wet here. Over a dinner of stewed green beans, onions, tomatoes & chick peas, Joel & I related our long, full days to each other, B"H. As the meal wore on, it inspired me to change my M.O.: I have now officially decided that I will take me meals exclusively in the teachers' dining room, because I need some space from talmidim (students) outside of class & the only way to politely ensure this is seclusion. I really do need my down-time to mean I'm at rest & for class-related matters to be limited to class time...

Quote of the day: "There is a special place in Hell reserved for those who believe that being Jewish means following all of the Shulchan Arukh."
- Rav Adin Steinsaltz as told by Arthur Kurzweil


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on my way to work now to look for planets in a debris-disk around a young, nearby star I observed last month. How different our days are. But I have to admit, I would love to have a couple of days at your Kallah.

As for the Quote of the Day, I completely disagree. I think Jews who follow the Shulchan Aruch are on a fine start to the whole Journey. Even if that is all Judiasm is to them, it's better than the way most Jews live there lives. And the system is such that just by doing, one will eventually catch on to the Bigger Meaning behind it all.

Shabbat Shalom from sunny Hawaii!

12:03 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. Just reading about your experiences makes me feel like I'm at Elat Chayyim again...

I know what you mean about the holy sound of mingled chanting. At Yom Kippur R. Elliot Ginsburg talked about chanting as being like an aural mikvah, in certain ways -- the sounds can wash over us and purify us, change our state, elevate our consciousness towards God. That's often how I feel about the davvening at E"C.

9:57 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Well, Ev, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to agree with the rav - some of us can get so obssessed with making our lived black & white (so to speak ;+>) with rules that we miss out on the more subtle experiences of the wider Jewish world. Like, not seeing the forest for the trees...

Rachel - R' Elliott is really something, no? I'm glad I can share happy experiences "with" you.

6:41 a.m.  

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