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, February 28, 2006


30 Sh'vat

My friend Odeyah & I went down to City Hall today for the official Olympic flag-raising ceremony. Turns out I was standing 10 feet from Ben Mulroney. Ben & his sideburns are the epitome of Alpha Male in Canadian Culture: wealthy, young, handsome, tall, multi-lingual, his own TV show & it doesn't hurt that his father is powerful enough not only to have run this country, but to have tied on the rib bib & come back for seconds.

Seriously, though, I have nothing against our former First Boy & his winter tan. He's even more handsome & personable in real life than on TV. Just don't bring up the time his dad sang a televised drunken duet with then US president Reagan of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling". Those few moments symbolize the critical compromises our Prime Minister made with the US which left us diminished as a nation.

Grand colonial marches were played by the Vancouver Firefighters band, followed by speeches by a female Tsleil-Waututh First Nations band council member (whose name escapes me - sorry!) & His Right Honourable Mayor of Whistler Ken Melamed - a Jew - who was very comfortable delivering part of his speech in French. Then Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan spoke & hoisted the enormous flag assisted by men & women police officers as the band played the flourishing Olympic March. I spied all this from under the black skeletal trees on the back lawn next to the flag pole. Just as the last white-gloved hand let go of the bottom corner, the banner caught for a moment on one of the spindly branches. Just then a breeze lifted it & it unfurled majestically to the cheers & applause of all present.

Well, not all present. There were people protesting the negative impact the 2010 Olympics would have on the environment & social programs. They were lined up behind the speakers so as to get TV coverage. & good for them. Sustainability must be at the top of all our agendas. Don't forget what Kohelet/Ecclesiastes Rabbah 4:6 tells us: "Look at My creations, see how beautiful they are, how excellent. Make sure you do not ruin or destroy My world, for if you do there will be no one to repair it after you."

For more on what Jewish Environmentalism has to say, check out Adam Va-Adamah.

Don't get me wrong - I love the Olympics, & this year's Winter Games saw Canada bring home more medals than ever - over half of them by women. That plus most of our athletes being young means competing on our home turf in 4 years will make us a force to be reckoned with.

The politicians were all piped away at the end of the celebrations. I went & bought groceries.

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Monday, February 27, 2006


29 Sh'vat

Why do we fight battles we have no hope of winning?

Tehilim 141

א  מִזְמוֹר, לְדָוִד:
יְהוָה קְרָאתִיךָ, חוּשָׁה לִּי;    הַאֲזִינָה קוֹלִי, בְּקָרְאִי-לָךְ.
1: A Psalm of David. HAVAYEH, I have called You; hurry to me; hear my voice when I call to You.

ב  תִּכּוֹן תְּפִלָּתִי קְטֹרֶת לְפָנֶיךָ;    מַשְׂאַת כַּפַּי, מִנְחַת-עָרֶב.
2: Let my prayer be offered as incense before You, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

ג  שִׁיתָה יְהוָה, שָׁמְרָה לְפִי;    נִצְּרָה, עַל-דַּל שְׂפָתָי.
3: Set a guard, HAVAYEH, to my mouth; keep watch at the door of my lips.

ד  אַל-תַּט-לִבִּי    לְדָבָר רָע,
לְהִתְעוֹלֵל עֲלִלוֹת    בְּרֶשַׁע--
אֶת-אִישִׁים    פֹּעֲלֵי-אָוֶן;
וּבַל-אֶלְחַם,    בְּמַנְעַמֵּיהֶם.
4: Don't incline my heart to anything broken, to be occupied in deeds of wickedness with men that work iniquity; & let me not eat of their dainties.

ה  יֶהֶלְמֵנִי צַדִּיק חֶסֶד,    וְיוֹכִיחֵנִי--
שֶׁמֶן רֹאשׁ,    אַל-יָנִי רֹאשִׁי:
כִּי-עוֹד וּתְפִלָּתִי,    בְּרָעוֹתֵיהֶם.
5: Let the conscious smite me with kindness, & correct me; oil so choice let not my head refuse; for still is my prayer because of their brokenness.

ו  נִשְׁמְטוּ בִידֵי-סֶלַע, שֹׁפְטֵיהֶם;    וְשָׁמְעוּ אֲמָרַי, כִּי נָעֵמוּ.
6: Their judges are thrown down by the sides of the rock; & they shall hear my words, that they are sweet.

ז  כְּמוֹ פֹלֵחַ וּבֹקֵעַ בָּאָרֶץ--    נִפְזְרוּ עֲצָמֵינוּ, לְפִי שְׁאוֹל.
7: As one loosens & breaks up the earth, are our bones scattered at the grave's mouth.

ח  כִּי אֵלֶיךָ, יְהוִה אֲדֹנָי עֵינָי;    בְּכָה חָסִיתִי, אַל-תְּעַר נַפְשִׁי.
8: For mine eyes are unto You, HAVAYEH AD@NAI; in You have I taken refuge, don't pour out my soul.

ט  שָׁמְרֵנִי--מִידֵי פַח, יָקְשׁוּ לִי;    וּמֹקְשׁוֹת, פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן.
9: Keep me from the snare which they have laid for me, & from the gins of the workers of iniquity.

י  יִפְּלוּ בְמַכְמֹרָיו רְשָׁעִים;    יַחַד אָנֹכִי, עַד-אֶעֱבוֹר.
10: Let the broken fall into their own nets, while I withal escape.

Over the past week I have been given very stong messages about avodah - spiritual work - yet I am resisting. Why?
Purification: I have seen that all things have their limit, but Your commandment is broad beyond measure - Tehilim/Psalm 119:96
Obedience: Give me understanding, that I might live. I call with all my heart. Answer me, HAVAYEH - Tehilim/Psalm 119:144-145
Compassion: I pour out before G@d my prayerful meditation; my distress, before G@d, I declare - Tehilim/Psalm 142:3
Responsibility: How can I repay HAVAYEH for all the bounties given me? = Tehilim/Psalm 116:12
Birth: How much have I loved Your Torah! All the day it is my meditation - Tehilim/Psalm 119:97

& tonight, the messages are still coming in loud & clear:
Responsibility. Integrity. Expectancy: My eyes shed streams of water - Tehilim/Psalm 119:136
Transformation: & again it's Tehilim/Psalm 119:97

R' Bachya ben Yosef ibn Paquda writes in his "Dutes of the Heart" that there are 7 things which we have no choice but must trust G@d with: 1) our physical well-being, 2) our income & livelihood, 3) our relationships with spouse, children, relatives, friends & enemies, 4) our heart inclinations which affect only ourselves, 5) our heart inclinations which affect only others, 6) our reward in the World-to-Come regarding our conduct in this World, & 7) the extra reward we receive due to G@d's great chesed/lovingkindness.

The question is how. How to collapse into the loving arms of Ha-Shem. I see people all around me who are like scared kittens in a tree, who won't let the nice fireman near them, to rescue them. They grasp onto food & sex & drugs & SUVs & television & fundamentalism to keep distracted from what they are most afraid of: letting go & letting G@d...
...but we can't avoid G@d, so why do we cling like this?
I look forward to more deeply studying this work of musar for answers to such eternal questions...

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Saturday, February 25, 2006


28 Sh'vat

I met a woman last night at Shabbes dinner whose job it was to build orphanages in Africa for children whose families had died of HIV/AIDS. She told me that by 2010 there would be 48 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa & they would need a place to live.

This is unspeakably tragic.

Jews are commanded to apply our tzedakah/charitable obligations to all peoples in need, as acts of chesed/kindness promote peace in the world. Yeshayahu proclaims, "...& the act of tzedakah shall bring shalom" (Isaiah 32:17). So we must do something.

Last weekend when I was speaking at WIRED, I met a really sweet neshamah/soul named Joanne. She was from Winnipeg (Everybody from there is really nice. Seriously. The Barenaked Ladies are from Winnipeg) & selling these cute little brooch dolls made by families suffering from HIV/AIDS. This craft project allows them to retain their dignity by make a living while our wearing the brooches promotes the project. I bought one - they're only $5 CDN - for myself & one for my mum. Check here for more info.

& if this particular effort doesn't speak to you, by all means please find a way to help prevent the spread of this merciless plague. Save lives.

Shavu'ah tov - a good week...

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Friday, February 24, 2006


26 Sh'vat

Although my taste in pop music tends toward the likes of Bif Naked, these Mary MacGregor lyrics from 1977 seem to most appropriately describe my emotional state about the state of the state.

Making sense yet? No? Then hop on the political soul train with me...

I am blessed to live in a great Jewish community in a great city in a great country. & they aren't great just because they are familiar & I like them, they're empirically great. Canada, for all of its flaws, & Vancouver in particular are consistently voted most liveable places on Planet Earth. & I love it here. My father's family has lived in this country for over 250 years & my mother's family chose to make a new life here after their lives were devastated by WW2. So thank G@d for Canada & everything it has given me & my ancestors.

But I miss The Land of Israel. The Aretz generates a vibe of a totally different frequency than anywhere else in the world, a Holy, intense, flutteringly intimate throb which is deeply intoxicating on a soul level. Sound sexy? Well, that is the mystery of the unification of The Name. The Sanctity of the Erotic.

& when things like this happen, I feel like I should be there. It doesn't make sense, I know. I can't stop rockets from being shot at Israelis, scarring their lives & the Land. & when I was last there & way too close to a couple of the 2003 suicide bombings, it really shook me up. So why does an assault against the Jewish people in the current model our state is taking draw me to live there?

Well, because Israel is home. But isn't Canada home? Well, yes. Of course.

I don't have rabbit ears or cable therefore cannot receive CBC at home, so on Wednesday I took myself out for a lunchtime beer at the Jolly Alderman & watched Team Canada lose to the Russians on a huge screen. There was much tension & shouting of things like, "It goes in the net!" & "Fresh legs!" as well as lots of cursing. It was a gigantic letdown, because Team Canada has a deadly serious rivalry against their Russian counterparts - just ask any Canadian what happened in 1972 - & to see Gretsky cowering alone under the stairs was pathetic...but we all gathered there because that's what Canucks do.

Tonight (Thursday the 23rd) I went to the Kino with my very close friend Michal to catch up & enjoy the fab live flamenco music & dancing they feature. It's the best in the city. I sat there with my cool friend in my cool neighbourhood in my cool city in my cool country thinking about where I really belong. Both places. But I can't be in both places. All I know is that when I'm in the one place, I miss the other...

It's amazing to be a Jew in Israel. It's such a spiritual high. & look how many more mitzvahs I can do there! But to be a Canuck in Israel isn't so great. Being a Canuck in Canada is the best! But to be a Jew in Canada can sometimes be weird :(
Both places live in me, but I can't live in both places...

Oy vah voy...

Shabbat Shalom.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006


26 Sh'vat

1. Wear clean, white or unbleached cotton close-fitting gloves

2. As you write, lean your arm & heel of your hand on a sheet of blank paper, not directly on the skin

3. Make sure your sleeve cuffs are dry after you perform netilat yadayim/ritual hand washing & before you write

4. If you need to visit the bathroom or pass wind, STEP AWAY FROM THE SEFER! Don't put it off - take care of it, say any applicable blessings & then return to work

5. Cover the entire sheet of qlaf/parchment with blank paper when you aren't working on it & do not place anything on top of that

6. Use magnification to get the tiny details right, such as tagin/crowns, if necessary

7. Re-sharpen your kulmus/quill every 10 lines or so

8. Be sure you have that fresh yeri'ah/sheet set right side up before you begin to write

9. Careful to test your kulmus/quill on a scrap piece of qlaf/parchment in before you begin work each day & after shaping it. Do this by writing out the name "Amaleyq" & then crossing it out once horizontally. You will save all these & burn them Erev Tish'a Be-Av/the Eve of the 9th of Av Fast

10. Bathe thoroughly each day before you write

...any questions?

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006


25 Sh'vat

I've decided to start trying to post on the upcoming parsha/Torah portion. Not that you could tell or anything :}
So here's my chidush for you. Sorry I'm's been a busy week :)

In Sh'mot parshat Yitro/Exodus 19:5 the Torah tells us:
"V'atah im-shamo'a tish'mu b'qoli ush'martem et-b'riti vih'yitem li segulah mikal-ha'amim ki-li kal-ha'aretz" - "So now, if you will hearken, yes, hearken to My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a special-treasure from among all peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine:" (Everett Fox translation)

In some Sifrei Torah, but not all, the Lamed & the Yud are written in such a way so as to appear joined. This is an extremely controversial practice, as one of the approximately 4,000 rules in sofrut dictates that there be no negi'ah (touching) between any of the letters. So why here? What message calling to us from out of the text here is so crucial that an exception is made only once in our entire tradition?

The Letter Lamed (ל) has a gematrial value of 30, while Yud (י) is worth 10. That makes 40. 40 also means גואל "go'El" - Liberator - & יד י-ה-ו-ה "yad Y-H-V-H" - Hand of the Eternal.

The place in the Torah where we read G@D saying to us, "...vih'yiytem li segulah..." - " shall be to Me a special-treasure...", we learn that these two letters of the word "li", "to Me" or "for Me" are joined at this point in the Torah to show the closeness and intimacy that The Holy One wishes to share with each of us. G@d has consciously joined the individual energies of the two letters together to demonstrate how deeply connective a bond we can achieve through the pursuit of Yechidut, Unity, by performing mitzvot. It is then that we will experience true liberation, at the hand of The One.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006


24 Sh'vat

Thoughts on writing the small Alef: Sefer Vayiqra Parshat Vayiqra/Leviticus 1:1 says, "Vayiqra el-Moshe vay'dabeyr Y-H-V-H eylav meyohel mo'eyd leymor." - "And He called to Moshe - HaShem spoke to him from the Tent of Appointment, saying:"

"...called..." - according to an ancient regulation, the last letter of the word "Vayiqra" is in miniature. Why?

One theory is that the Sacred Text was in ancient times written in a continuous row of letters, without any division between the words. When the last letter of a word was the same as the first letter of the next, as is here the case, one character would often serve for both (Luzzatoo). When at a later time both letters were written out, one of them was in smaller size to show that it did not originally occur in the Text - an illustration of the profound reverence with which the Sacred Text was guarded by the Sofrim/Scribes. This might hold water, except that there are plenty of instances in the Torah where a word following another begins with the same letter as its predecessor ends & these letters are not written small.

Still others search for a deeper meaning. Why is this particular letter of this particular word written so? The use of the word "call" indicates that G@D wished to speak to Moshe, and purposefully called him. G@D's prophesy to Bil'am (Numbers 23:16), however, is introduced by "vayiqar", without an Alef, a word that has two connotations: chance (miq'reh) and spiritual contamination (as in I Samuel 20:26). This implies that, while G@D had a reason to speak to Bil'am, he did not do so with enthusiasm. The small Alef used in this word makes it appear like the word used for Bil'am.

The Ba'al HaTurim tells us that when G@D was dictating the Torah to Moshe Rabeynu/our Teacher on Mount Sinai, G@D chose the word "Vayiqra" to indicate that G@D had specifically selected Moshe Rabeynu/our Teacher to lead us and to show what an intimate relationship they possessed. Moshe Rabeynu/our Teacher, being "The Most Modest Man in All The World" as the Torah tells us (that's quite a thing to be able to boast about - I wonder how he dealt with writing that down?), was reluctant to enscribe this, preferring instead to write "Vayiqar" - which means "He happened by" - to suggest a coincidence in his relationship to G@D rather than his chosen-ness. That is why the Alef is so small, to express the humility of Moshe Rabeynu.

This smallness, ironically, actually serves to give prominence to the letter, drawing our attention to it & prompting us to ask questions. So Moshe's evil plot to remain un-notable actually backfired on him. There's a great lesson in that.

It also can be viewed as if it were two separate words, ie: "Vayiqar Alef...". The word "Alef" means, among other things, "to teach", thus implying that no one should learn always to be "small" and humble. No one was better qualified to teach this lesson than Moshe Rabbeynu because he was not only the greatest of all prophets, but also the humblest person who ever lived (R' Bunam of P'schish'cha).

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Monday, February 20, 2006


23 Sh'vat

After over a month of my Mac mail program not working, I finally got it to wake up, only for it to lose more than 3,000 messages! Tah-DAH!

I'm no techie, so am hoping that my good friend & neighbour Jay can help me tomorrow. G@d willing the lost mail can be recovered, since this halts my business...

In the meantime, check out the new all-woman mezuzah writing group!

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Sunday, February 19, 2006


22 Sh'vat

Please note the new flickr badge I've placed in my right sidebar. Flickr is a photo journal weblog type thingy which allows Mac users like myself to blog a random display of my art work. So now you can either click on the links to each specific piece & its post, or you can just click the images, which'll be changing all the time! I'll add to the gallery diary as I'm able to complete work & borrow a digital camera...

Have fun browsing :)

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Saturday, February 18, 2006


21 Sh'vat

This afternoon's session I facilitated with Andrea Silverstone, a woman I owe much to. So do countless women & men in both the Jewish community & the community at large. It was because of my meeting her almost 12 years ago at a Jewish Feminist Students' conference in Ottawa that I experienced a positive shift in my Jewish Woman consciousness. A move toward clarity. For that I will always be grateful & it was an honour to sit alongside her & speak on Jewish Feminist voices throughout our history.
The students are all out partying at Mark's Fiasco tonight, while I sit in my hotel room & write...

The students have been fantastic. I knew a lot of them already from having been the Program Directrix at UBC Hillel. It was great to catch up with friends & make new ones today. I also took the opportunity to daven at the downtown Chabad. Rabbi Biton is wonderful. He taught us that you can tell what your Mitzvah Meyuchedet (loosely: mission in life) is by noticing what commandment is most difficult for you to perform. Thus said The Rebbe: if the work of marriage, he said to a man having marital difficulties, is harder for you to do than other mitzvot, then that is exactly the work which G@d requires you to do in this life. My quill is calling me...

During my piece on the panel, I spoke about some of the sofrot who proceeded me, including:

Chulda Ha-Nevyiah (the Prophetess): she appears in the book of Melechim/Kings & according to Talmud Bavli Sanhedrin 22a's list of saintly Jewish women is represented by the letter Quf. During the reign on King Yoshiyahu/Josiah, the Kohen Gadol/High Priest (read Great G@d-Helper), discovered a Torah scroll opened to the section telling what terrible curses will befall the Jewish People if we didn't keep our side of the brit/covenant with G@d. He was, apparently, not familiar with this, so he & the king's own scribe brought it to Chulda to be authenticated. The story goes that they brought it to her because they were hoping that a female prophet would render a more compassionate directive than your run-of-the-mill male prophet, but another story claims that she was in fact a soferet, therefore was empowered to say whether or not this scroll was the first one ever written by Moshe Rabbeynu. She said it was, & that the kingdom was in deep doo-doo. However, she promised that since the king had immediately tried to right all the wrongs being done in the Land on discovering the scroll, that they wouldn't be overrun by their neighbours until after he had passed away, so he didn't have to watch the fall of Israel.

Ha-Soferet - see above link - appears both in the Book of Ezra & Nechemiyah. Her descendants are listed as some of those who returned to the Land from Babylonia with Ezra the Scribe. According to Rashi, Ibn Ezra & the like, she was a faithful servant of King Solomon, his copyist & not Jewish. Neither were her descendants. They were part of the ger toshav community, Gentiles who lived among us in the Land & who never converted. All they had to do was keep the 7 Noachide Laws.
Savina Teubal writes at great length in Sarah the Priestess: the First Matriarch of the Book of Genesis that female scribes were relatively common in that part of the world...

Rebbetzin Dulcie of Worms (12th C c.e.) was married to Rabbi Eliezer ben Yehudah, one of our greatest Ashkenazi commentators. She ran a business to support the whole family, made candles for their synagogue, lead women's services, translated religious books & prayers into the vernacular so as to further educate the women of her community & repaired Sifrei Torah at least by patching & sewing them. She & her daughters Belet & Chanah were murdered by two Soldiers of the Cross during the crusades.

Paula Bat Avraham Anavim of Rome (13th C c.e.) was from an old scribal family & her father acted as her agent.

Miriam bat Benayahu of San'a - see above link - (14th C c.e.), also from a scribal family in the Yemen, worked alongside her brothers Daveed & Yosef with their father to create over 400 volumes. Many of those books survived & now live in the Israel Museum of Jerusalem. One of the scrolls that Miriam wrote could well have been a Sefer Torah. The jury is still out. Kind of. I'm debating with them.

Chanah bat Menachem Zion of Cologne - see above link - (14th C c.e.) copied books of legal code & her work was endorsed by Meir of Rothenburg & R' Peretz.

Frommet of Arwyller (15th C c.e.) - I'm still learning about her. haven't turn up much yet but will persist. Her story deserves to be told.

Sarah bat Rav David Oppenheim of Prague (18th C c.e.) wrote a Megillat Esther which her father, the Av Bet Din, considered kosher, but referred the official legal decision to be made by a colleague so as to avoid the conflict of interest. He declared it unfit because of her gender.

The mother of Azariyah of Tawuq (Daquq) was well known as "the female copyist" in Iraq, but I don't have a time period for her. But whenever her son is mentioned in literature, he is referred to as his mother's son while there is nary a word mentioned about his father.

Random Polish sofrot - yes, I actually learned this from Jen back in December (?). Apparently there was a Polish Sefer Torah factory where women were employed to write the Sifrei Torah a couple of hundred years ago & consequently, most Orthodox synagogues in London England will not use Torahs of Polish origin lest they are woman-written.

...& there were others...

So there we go. The establishment of a female sofrut tradition is beginning, B"H.
BTW, some of these links need fixing, so I'll reserve the right to do that later...

Later this afternoon I went to a student presentation on Judaism & ecology. It was fab.

Met a Jew from Iran after Havdalah, so there was much talk about Islam, Palestinians & related culture, language & politics.

Shavu'ah tov!

[Addendum: in between Ha-Soferet & Rebbetzin Dulcie of Worms, I forgot to include this rebbetzin soferet who I have been trying to learn more about, but have been as yet unsuccessful.]

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Friday, February 17, 2006


19 Sh'vat

I'll be speaking at the WIRED conference over the weekend. I'm privileged to be part of a panel discussion on "Kol Isha - uncovering Feminist voices in Judaism" with Andrea Silverstone. I'm really looking forward to it. Jewish students are the bomb. & I always learn from the people I teach, so barukh Ha-Shem...

...& there'll be nargilot :D

Being students, I'm sure a large share of the political chit-chat will be about Bush, Cheney & his unfortunate hunting partner. We should all pray for his full recovery.

Have a beautiful Shabbes!

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Thursday, February 16, 2006


18 Sh'vat

My good friend Cigal at Nefesh B'Nefesh sent me a link to the Halachic Organ Donor Society today. It's a really informative site about how not only is it permitted for Jews to donate their organs, but it's actually mandated. HODS counts rabbis such as Dr Norman Lamm, Dov Linzer, Dr Shlomo Riskin & Yaacov Warhaftig among its members. The organization offers detailed Halakhic reasoning accepted by the majority of widely respected Israeli & American rabbis, speaks to religious concerns about resurrection of the flesh as well as addresses common Jewish cultural superstitions surrounding organ donation.

I signed up.

The Hebrew word for internal organs is ever, Alef-Yud-Bet-Reysh. The word avir - powerful, strong, mighty - has the same letters! So these two words have the same gematria, which is 213. 213 also stands for Chesed Elah D'El, loosely translating as the Supernal Mercy of HaShem.

So check out this web site. Learn how you can take this opportunity to perform one of the greatest mitzvot, piku'ah nefesh - saving a life - or several lives depending on how much of your body you consent to donate. It's free. Show G@d's mercy to the blind, to those on dialysis, those dying for a liver. Remember that The Holy One could put you in their place at any time. & if at some point one of us can't go on living, if we gift them with the strength of our healthy organs, at least they will be able to.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


17 Sh'vat

This is a good site for a good sofer st"m. In particular, there is a link to the letters of the Alefbet, how to draw them (& how not to!) & some really interesting stuff on parchment processing - enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006


16 Sh'vat

By Bill Withers. That's what I'm listening to. It also happens to be sunny, warm & gorgeous outside.
Such is the curse for living in southwestern BC. Lotus Land. Eretz Canada.

It's also a lovely day because I've been invited to be a regular contributor on Radical Torah. Thanks, Mobius!

After I've written my daily quota I'll go for a bike ride...

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Monday, February 13, 2006


T"U b'Shevat

Here's some of what I spoke about to the Temple Beth Am ladies luncheon when I was in Miami recently:
The letters of the word "Torah" (תורה)

The Letter Tav:

The first "sign" (from the root T-V-H, "to make a mark or a sign") mentioned in the Torah is found in Breyshit/Genesis 4:15. G@D placed a letter of the alef-bet on Cain's forehead. Nachlas Benjamin of Tachuma teaches that the sign was in the form of a Tav (Midrash HaGadol).

Yechezkel/Ezekiel envisioned (Ch. 9) that at the destruction of Jerusalem, G@D commanded the angel Gavriel to mark the foreheads of the upright with a Tav of ink and on the foreheads of the wicked mark a Tav of blood. Rav comments that the first Tav stands for "Tich'yeh" - "live!" or "you shall live!" - while the Tav of blood stands for "Tamut" - "die!" or "you shall die!" (Shabbos 55a).

There are two Tavs who are written larger than usual in the Tanakh: the first is in Devarim/Deuteronomy 18:13, "Tamim tihiyeh im Ha-Shem Eloqekha..." - "Be perfect with HaShem your G@D...". "Perfect" here is interpreted to mean "completely focused". The second large Tav is found in the Megillat/Book of Esther 9:29. "Vatikhtov Esteyr..." - "And Esther wrote...", tells us of the incredible courage and perfection of character Esther showed in her efforts to save the Jewish people.

The Letter Vav:

The Maharal teaches us that the number six, the gematria of Vav, indicates physical completion: as our world was finished in six days and as each individual object has six sides: above, below, right, left, front and back.

Vav is a conjunction, a link. He comes to us in the shape of a hook, which is the function he fulfills and what his name means. The presence of Vav at the beginning of a verse in the Torah indicates continuity with the previous text ("V'eyleh sh'mot b'nai Yisra'el..." - "And these are the names of the children of Israel..."). Vav's absence means we are beginning a new subject. Vav has the power to unite anything.

There is a broken Vav in Bamidbar/Numbers 25:12. G@D says of Pinchas, "Hineyni, noteyn lo et briti shalom - See, I give him My brit/covenant/promise: peace." Pinchas was rewarded by G@D for his devotion, but it is a broken, crippled promise because the peace brought about by Pinchas came through killing.

The Letter Reysh:

We are the Reysh, seeking G@D, the Quf (that's the letter that preceeds it in the Alefbet). The leg of the Quf is suspended in midair to show that when we return, do tshuvah, we will find an open route into the inner part of G@D's Holy Presence. If the left side of Quf were closed, the returning Reysh would be forced to reach around to the far entrance at the bottom of Quf, meaning that the return would be difficult and the welcome inhospitable. Since the open side of Quf faces Reysh, we all have easy access to The Holy One.

The Letter Hey:

Hey has the easiest voice. The sound of Hey is only your out-breath, the exhalation of prana. It needs no effort, no motion of lips, tongue or mouth (Tanchuma Bereishis 16).

Our spirit (ru'ach) lives in our breath (ru'ach), IS our breath. The Kabalah says that when two people are talking together and their faces are so close they inhale the other's breath, they are sharing souls. According to Hasidism, our souls are too vast to inhabit our bodies; they penetrate and surround them.

Hey is female. Her soft-sounding voice indicates the feminine form of a noun, as in yeled (boy) - yaldah (girl). The two Heys in The Four-Letter Name represent the Mother and the Daughter in the archetypal Family, Yud representing the Father and Vav the Son.

G@D created two worlds: this one with the letter Hey ("Bid'var HaShem shamayim na'asu uv'ru'ach piv kol tzeva'am" - "By the word of HaShem the heavens were made and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts" Tehilim/Psalms 33:6). Why? Our traditions tell us that this world is like the letter Hey, easy to fall out the bottom. Also like this world there is always a tiny space, which allows another entrance. This is t'shuvah, repentance (Menachos 29b). This teaches us to leave a small opening in our hearts to let others back in when they have hurt us and wish to be forgiven (Tomer Devorah 1:7).

...& most of us need to forgive ourselves for something or other...
ps: Happy Birthday, BJC

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Sunday, February 12, 2006


T"U b-Sh'vat

Kabalah, eh?
But not just Kabalah, physics too. When you have much water to hold, you need a deep enough bowl; when you have something of great weight, you need a broad, sturdy support to ensure its safety.


Copyright A. Barclay. Brown "Calli" ink on natural vegetable parchment.
Amulet dividing the unified; Shem Ha-Meforash Y-H-V-H or "The Living Name Pronounced as it is Spelled". The Lost Word. The Unutterable.

Its gematria is 26, the total of the numbers of the sefirot of the middle pillar of the Eytz Chayim/Tree of Life: 1+6+9+10. Keter plus Tiferet plus Yesod plus Malkhut.

This piece is meant for meditation on the Most Divine Name, before its overwhelming unity is achieved. Because one is not allowed to divide This Name after it has been written, the compartments must be drawn first, before the letters are written. The resulting two-letter Names still retain a level of qedushah, of holiness; however their inherent powerful presence is more manageable for humans...less intensely full & focused.

Tonight we celebrated the New year of the Trees: T"U b'Sh'vat igiya, chag ha-ilanot...
Many-coloured wines, tree-fruits, nuts, olives, of the most sensual meals of the Jewish Year.


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Saturday, February 11, 2006


14 Sh'vat

Went to Schara Tzedeck last night & today. Spent good, solid, wholesome Shabbat time (read: eating & talking) with Dan, Josie & Mordechai, Avrum, Mia, Morey & Alissa.

Our conversations were full of politics, religion, marriage, gender, geography & philosophy. Then we sang. & went for a walk. Avrum says that the FFB (Frum From Birth: raised Orthodox) Jews in Toronto, where he now lives, don't have the sorts of conversations over the Shabbes table that the Jews in Vancouver do: things that inspire us to wrestle with our faith, challenge our practice. Whether Judaism makes our lives bigger or smaller than they otherwise would be.

Some more of my friends will be making Aliyah (moving to Israel) in the next year or two. I wonder how long it will be before all of us thirty-ish Vancouver Yidden will have picked up & made our home in The Land...

Shavu'ah tov.
A good week.

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Friday, February 10, 2006


12 Sh'vat

You totally have to check out my friend Morey's blog, especially his February 9th post about the recent "Cartoon Rage" (as the Victoria Times-Colonist put it).

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Thursday, February 09, 2006


12 Sh'vat

I was very glad to get my copy of the JOFA Journal today in the mail & so happy to see that my former rabbi & constant friend, R' Ross Singer, had his article on women being permitted to write Megilot (Scrolls of) Esther published in the Winter 2006 issue. If you go here & click on the top link, Leadership, you can download your very own pdf! BTW, I always wanted to be that lady on page 5 when I grew up...
& yea, I am the female congregant mentioned in the piece.

So kol ha-kavod to the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, who has done much work in the service of Jewish women everywhere, helping us to not so much "think outside the box", as it were, but turn that box into more of a bag, as I like to say :)

The other TOTALLY cool thing is that they really did their own research on this & in the little box on the bottom left of page 4 names some of the women we know practiced sofrut - were copyists Jewish holy books & possibly wrote Sifrei Torah - & who appear throughout this blog. 3 cheers for an establishment of the existence of a historic soferet tradition!
(doing the wave...)

The original article (researched in 2002), much longer & full of Halakhic consideration, appears below:

In the preface to his book, Women Jewish Lay and Modernity, Rabbi Joel Wolowelsky charts a new course for exploring the inclusion of women in religious ritual and practice. He states, “given the overall friction between ideology and halakhah, Orthodox leaders have been suspicious of arguable constructive suggestions for increased women’s participation in religious activities on the grounds that accepting them could legitimize feminism in the eyes of the halakhic community. It is now time to move past this fear of feminism. We are fast approaching a post-feminist age in which accepting specific proposals originally promoted by feminists no longer carries the implication that we accept feminist ideology as a whole... It is time for a lekhatehilah encouragement of increased women’s involvement in a wide spectrum of religious activities.” (pg. x-xii) Rabbi Wolowelsky welcomes his readers to “suggest additional areas to explore,’ with the proviso that these “should be explored in classical term, with reference to classic texts and recognized authorities.” (pg. xii) In the spirit of this approach, the following essay will explore the issue of women writing Megillot Esther for ritual use on Purim.

I. Talmud regards Women as Pesulot for the writing of Tefilin.

The key text from which to begin this discussion is a beraita that appears in Mesekhet Gittin (45b). We read, “Rav Hamnuna son of Rava from Pashronia taught a Sefer Torah, Tefilin, and Mezuzot written by an informer, an idolater, a slave, a woman, a minor, a Samaritan or an apostate are invalid, as it says ‘you shall bind them (tefilin) you shall write them (mezuzot)’ -- those who fall under the Mitzvah of binding them are those who fall under the category of writing them.” This passage serves as the source for the unequivocal halakhah that women are pesulot to write tefilin. This position is unchallenged in the classical rabbinic literature.

II. The position of the Rishonim and Ahronim on women writing Sifrei Torah and Mezuzot.

While the pesul to write tefilin is not contested, there is a debate regarding the kashrut of women to write Sifrei Torah and mezuzot. A close examination of Rav Hamnuna’s beraita shows some ambiguity. The beraita does not make any distinction between tefilin and Sifrei Torah and Mezuzah. Yet, the reasoning of “those who are in the category of binding are in the category of writing” seems to apply only to Tefilin. Strikingly, in the Tur’s list of those who are pasul to write Tefilin, he includes women. Yet, when he lists those who are pesulot to write Sifre Torah , he omits women. One could infer from this that the Tur reads the beraitta’s exclusion of women as limited to Tefilin. Indeed, the Drisha suggests that not only the Tur, but the Rif and the Rosh all hold that this is the Halakah On the other hand, the Rambam does not omit women from his listing of those who are pasul to write Sifrei Torah and Mezuzot. The Shulhan Arukh explicitly states that women are invalid to write Sifre Torah.

This mahloket between the Shulchan Arukh and the Drishah has implications for the question of women writing Megilat Esther. According to the Derisha’s understanding, women’s exclusion is limited to Tefilin, therefore they would be considered valid for Sifre Torah and Mezuzot, and all the more so for Megilat Esther which is of a lesser status and in which they have an obligation to hear the ritual reading. For the Shulhan Arukh who states that women are pesulot to write Sifre Torah it is more complicated. It must be determined whether the strictures of writing a Sefer Torah apply to Megilat Esther. If they do, then according to the Shulhan Arukh women will be pesulot. If not, it will be possible to consider women kesherot to write the Megillah.

III. The Mahloket Rabeinu Tam and the Maggid Mishneh on the pesulim for Megilat Esther

The question as to whether the pasul stated in Rav Hamnuna’s beraita applies to Megilat Esther is not explicitly addressed in the Classical Rabbinic literature or in the Rishonim. However a related issue brought up by the Rishonim is exceedingly relevant to this matter. One of the requirements of a Sefer Torah is that its parchment must be dressed or worked lishmah. The Rishonim differ as to whether this requirement extends also to Megilat Esther. Rabbeinu Tam holds that the skin of the parchment must be dressed lishmah. He reasons that since the Megilah is called a Sefer, all the laws of a Sefer Torah apply to it except those that the tradition explicitly informs us are different. Given that the Classical Rabbinic literature never explicitly states that women may write a valid Megilat Esther, it is logical to presume that Rabbeinu Tam’s position would be that women are pesulot for writing the Megilah. However, the Rambam (Hilkhot Megilah 2:9) writes that one need not dress the leather of parchment lishmah. The Magid Mishneh commenting on this passage writes that “this is obvious for dressing was not mentioned with regard to it, and it (Megilah) is only like a sefer Torah with regard to those things in which(it megillah) was compared to it (Sefer Torah).” Here we find the Maggid Mishneh taking a position diametrically opposed to the view of Rabbeinu Tam. While Rabbeinu Tam suggests that Megillah is treated like a Sefer Torah unless Hazal instruct us otherwise, the Maggid Mishneh suggests that the Megillah is treated like a Sefer Torah only when Hazal explicitly tell us so. The Maggid Mishneh’s logic would lead one to conclude that women are valid to write Megilat Esther because Hazal never mentioned explicitly that they are Pasul. The Sdei Hemed cites the Radvaz as having the same understanding of the Rambam.

The Birkei Yosef uses this Maggid Mishneh to demonstrate that women are indeed valid to write the Megillah. He begins his line of reasoning by noting the Tosafot‘s discussion of the validity of women to prepare tzitzit and lulav. Tosafot conclude that the applicability of the derashah in Rav Hamnunah’s beraita is limited to Sefer Torah, Tefilin and Mezuzot only. This suggests that women may be kesharot to write other holy texts. Nevertheless, the Birkei Yosef suggests that this is an insufficient proof, since many regulations of the writing of the Megillah are identical to the requirements of writing of a Sefer Torah. He then notes the Maggid Mishneh’s position as one that would indeed allow women to write the Megillah. He observes that the Shulchan Arukh quotes both Rabbeinu Tam’s position on ibbud lishmah and the Rambam’s. The Rambam’s is brought first, stam while Rabbeinu Tam’s is brought as a yesh omrim. This the Birkei Yosef states is indicative that the Shulhan Arukh is deciding in favour of the Rambam. Therefore based on the Maggid Mishneh’s understanding of the Rambam, the Birkei Yosef concludes that the Shulchan Arukh is Paskening that women are kesherot to write Megilat Esther. He bolsters this by noting that the Pri Chadash validates bedeiavad a Megillah written with the left hand even though a Sefer Torah written that way is invalid.

In his shiurei Berakhah, the Hida brings another proof to bolster his claim that women are valid to write the Megillah. The gemara states that it is forbidden to read the megillah from a scroll that contains other sacred writings in public. From this it is deduced that in private one may read the Megillah from such a scroll. Since women are valid to write sacred writings other than Sifrei Torah as deduced in Tosafot, one must conclude that women are valid to write megilat Eshter. If not the gemara could not have allowed one to read privately from such a scroll, for it may have been written by a woman.

IV. Women’s obligation to read/hear the Megillah validates them to write it.

The Pri Megadim also holds that Rav Hamnunah’s beraita cannot be used as a source to invalidate women from writing the Megilah. This beraita excludes women from writing because they are not obligated in the Mitzvah of Tefilin. The Pri Megadim reasons that since women are obligated (minimally to hear ) in the Mitzvah of keriat Hamegillah they are valid to write it. This approach is echoed by the Sdei Hemed who quotes from Masekhet Sofrim. Masekhet Sofrim states the following rule: all who are eligible to fulfill the community’s obligation to read a sacred text are valid to write that text. Given that women are obligated in the Mitzvah of Megillah, one can draw the conclusion that women are valid to write the Megilah. However it is not so simple. The Ba’al Halakhot Gedolot (Behag) holds that women are obligated only to hear the Megillah read to them, but are invalid to read the Megillah for men. According to the Behag, the rule enunciated in Masekhet Sofrim would not validate women to write Megilat Esther. Indeed, the Ma’aseh Rokeach invalidates women using this very reasoning. Nevertheless, the Sdei Hemed finds reason to validate women to write the Megillah from another source. The Mishnah in Gittin (22b) states that women are valid to write gittin. The Sdei Hemed (eliyahu tzvi) reasons that their validity flows from the fact that the laws of gittin are applicable to women. Based on this reasoning, it is sufficient for women merely to be obligated in hearing the Megillah to render them valid to write it.

The Avnei Nezer raises a serious objection to this approach articulated by the Pri Megadim. According to the Pri Megadim women are valid to write sacred texts for which they have halakhic obligations. Yet, while women are obligated in the mitzvah of Mezuzah the beraita invalidates them from writing mezzuzot. The Arukh Hashulhan answers this difficulty. He explains that the pasul extends to Mezzuzot since they appear in the same paragraph with Tefilin, whereas Megillah is obviously not mentioned in that paragraph of the Torah.

V. The Megillah itself suggests that women are valid to write it.

Megillat Esther (Ch.9:29) states, “Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Avihail, and Mordekhay the Jew, wrote with all emphasis, to confirm this second letter of Purim.” The Targum renders this verse as saying “Esther the daughter of Avihail and Mordekhai the Jew wrote all this Megillah.” Rabbi David Oppenheim deduces from the Targum’s suggestion that Esther herself wrote the Megillah that women must be valid for writing the Megilah. A woman wrote the very first one! R. Oppenheim notes that this verse is used in the gemara (Megilah 19a) to derive halakhot. There the gemara asks “from where do we know that the Megilah requires parchment and ink? For it says (in one context) ‘and Esther the queen wrote,’ (and in another context) it is written ‘and I write on the scroll (parchment) and with ink.’” Using the rabbinic hermeneutical device of gezerah shavah the gemara deduces that the scroll of Esther must be on parchment and ink. R. Oppenheim reasons that if the gemara learns the halakhic details of parchment and ink from this verse, certainly we can learn that women are valid from the fact that it says Esther wrote.”

While R. Oppenheim uses Esther 9:29 as a proof that women are kesherot to write the Megillah, R. Meir Pearles reads that verse as a support for his position that women are pesulot. In his Megilat Sefer, R. Pearles argues that the Megillah has all the strictures of a Sefer Torah. In taking this position, he alludes to a Talmudic passage from Masekhet Megilah (16b). There Rabbi Tanhum and some say Rabbi Asi states that passage “words of peace and truth” in the Megillah teach us that the Megillah requires marking lines (shirtut) like “the truth of Torah.” R. Pearles argues that just as the Megillah requires shirtut so to all laws of Sifrei Torah apply to Megillat Esther. To strengthen his position he takes note that Esther 9:29 explicitly mentions that Mordecai also wrote the Megilah. R. Pearles suggests that had Mordekhai not assisted Esther, then the Megillah that they wrote would not have been valid. Based upon this reading he suggests that women are valid if the write with the assistance of a man. He finds support for this approach in the halakhot pertaining to sewing the parchments of the Megillat together. While the Sefer Torah needs to be sewn together only with animal tendons, the Megilah is kosher if it has three sections sewn together with tendons and the rest sewn together with linen. R. Pearles understands this halakhah to teach us that the writing of the Megilah is to be done basically as the writing of a Sefer Torah is done. However for the writing of the Megillah, the regulations need not be adhered to as strictly as for the Torah. The Megillah needs to be sewn with tendons, but not in its entirety, so too the Megillah needs to be written by a man, but not in its entirety. Esther’s contribution mentioned in Esther 9:29 does not invalidate the Megillah.

Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg finds R. Pearles’ arguments unconvincing. He notes that the Megilat Sefer starts by suggesting that Megilat Esther has the same halakhot as a Sefer Torah. He then backtracks and suggests that megilat Esther does not quite have the same halakhic requirements as a Sefer Torah and may be written by a woman as long as she has help from a man. R. Waldenberg argues that wither the Megillah has the same requirements as a Sefer Torah or it does not. If it does not, then we must allow for the possibility that women are valid. R. Waldenberg finds R. Pearles’ reading of Esther 9:29 excessively casuistic.

V. An explicit mention of women being pesulot is absent in the codes.

Above we mentioned the Avnei Nezer’s objection to the Pri Megadim’s claim that women are valid to write Megillat Esther. Later the Avnei Nezer had second thoughts about his position. This change of mind was based on the fact that the Rambam omitted any mention of women being pesulot in his list of those who are pasul to write the Megilah. This Shulhan Arukh similarly omits women from his list of those who are pasul to write the megillah. Based on this other Ahronim also conclude that there is not pesul for women to write the megillah.

VI. Conclusion

A number of Ahronim write that women are invalid to write the Megillah. These include: the Maaseh Rokeah, R. Meir Pearles, R. Akiva Eiger, R Yosef Messas, Lishkat Hasofer , and the Shaarey Teshuvah. Nevertheless there is a strong trend in Halakhah to validate women to write Megillot. The Drishah would validate women to write all sacred texts save Tefilin. While the Shulhan Arukh disagrees with the Drishah, he omits women from his list of those who are pesulim to write the Megillah. A large number of major ahronim indeed rule either l’halakhah or l’ma’aseh that women are keshairot. These Ahronim include R. David Oppenheim, the Chida, the Pri Megadim, the Teshuvah Me’ahavah, the Sdei Hemed, the Arukh Hashulhan, the Avnei Nezer, the Beit Oved, and the Tzitz Eliezer. Given the number, stature, and compelling reasoning of these Ahronim, it seems that the weight of the halakhic discussion inclines toward permitting women to write megillot Esther for communal ritual use provided that they are competent in the requisite Halakhot.

This appeared in issue 42 of the Edah Journal in 2004 as well, followed by no less than 52 sources in his list of notes. He is truly the world authority on this subject. It's so great that his work is getting more attention & that both Jewish women & men are being duly educated about ways in which we can safely expand our practice while keeping our traditions intact.

Way to go, R' Ross!

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006


11 Sh'vat

I hate to part with these books, but finances demand it.
I'm willing to let go of my collectible First Edition 1952 London Soncino Press Babylonian Talmud in English edited by Rabbi Dr Isadore Epstein; 30 volumes, some with beige book covers, a bit torn; others just red cloth hardcovers with gold imprint. Clean, good shape, corners a bit worn. Endpapers intact.
Other online single volumes in similar shape are going for $30 - $45 USD each. This is a steal.
$500 for the set or make me an offer I can't refuse.

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006


9 Sh'vat

From "Lessons in Personal Transformation", page 119:

"...I still frequently find myself wanting to please her, & to change many situations that make her unhappy. When I find my efforts unsuccessful I feel uneasy, & I am then tempted to see her as demanding & rejecting when she is simply asking for help.
I find the need to remember that I am responsible for the emotions I experience, & that she did not create my lack of peace - I did.
The lesson...reminds me that the choice is between peace or conflict. When consistently practicing this lesson then I can choose to see her differently. I can choose to accept her without wanting to change her. This perception leads to seeing the Love that exists between us & the recognition that she continues to be...most significant..."

Further, exerpted from pages 123 - 126:
"We have all had the experience of feeling trapped in a situation where there seemed to be no escape...If we perceive things not as problems but rather as opportunities for learning, we can experience a sense of joy & well-being when the essons are learned. We are never presented with lessons until we are ready to learn them...
..This was a very powerful & important learning experience for me. At first I saw this person as a potential enemy who was going to hurt me. I chose not to...create more fear & separation. When I found a common bond in our fearful attitudes & sincerely asked, he joined me. When I saw this person as my teacher rather than my enemy, he helped me...

& finally, page 129:
"I am responsible for what I see
I choose the feelings I experience, & I decide
upon the goal I would achieve.
& everything that seems to happen to me,
I ask for, & I receive asI have asked."

My practice has been changing, slowly, patiently. Prayer has taken on a meditative pace, as I linger in the thrice-daily prescribed time of G@d-communing, in no rush to face each day. Each morning after Shachrit I speak additional praises & supplications out of the Aneni I purchased while on my NYC speaking tour in December. I'm learning to create more light with prayer, using it to illuminate the places I need to explore, looking for the pressure release valve that will allow me to fully transform reactive energy to proactive, with G@d's help.

Still focusing on the letter Hey, its dimension of reality beyond initial sensory perception, its representation of how breakage & disillusionment leads to re-unified existence.

The road from this personal Eycha to eventual Nachamu, I pray, I'll walk with love & consciousness.

The tag (crown) on my Heys have moved back ever so slightly, further right along the roof. Not so far that they look Sephardic, though. They may be waking up, too...

On my sofer's recommendation as well as that of Reb Zalman's, I finally contacted a Sephardic sofer st"m & asked if he would consider teaching me.


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Monday, February 06, 2006


8 Sh'vat

I discovered this today. Non-denominational Jewish learning in Maui in February. That's the ticket. Jews gathering to share & learn lishma, then taking it home to their communities to spread the sparks.

My friend Lisa Alcalay Klug is one of the teachers, a dedicated journalist & a very sweet soul.
& she's going to Hawai'i while I am bombarded by ads reminding me not to forget my ice picks when I ski-doo.

I often think about what we can all do as Jews to soften the political barriers between Jewish denominations. Where is that respectful middle ground where we can all meet, regardless of our theories & practices? How do we promote Judaic interdenominationalism?

If we can do this, we will enrich all Israel & the world.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


3 Sh'vat

I should be asleep right now, but the storm outside is so violent that the house creaks & the windows shake. I'm surprised I can still sap this mysterious wireless connexion from I don't know where. The ferries have been cancelled until further notice, so I may not be able to return to Vancouver tomorrow. We'll see.

I have deeply appreciated my visit here, the town where I grew up, the old friends at synagogue, the faces I've had the privilege to lock eyes with over Torah.

I've been teaching this week, so thank G@d will pay the rent. I've also managed to get some writing in, but still no e-mail. Ever since my computer reset itself to January 1970 over a week & a half ago & forgot all my preferences, permissions & passwords, the electronic end of my business has been stalled. All the more so since I have been travelling to meet Jews on opposite sides of this continent & greet them with the neshamot, the souls, of the Hebrew letters. When people are thirsty for G@d, you give them drink.

As usual, teaching has been a humbling experience, but gently so, thank G@d. Even the children in the Hebrew school brought me a little lower today, bless them.

Chesed/Gevurah consideration: How to remain open & yet retain integrity?
Lailah tov

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