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.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


12 Adar

Judaism is a provocative religion. & thank G@d. The holy Shabbes that ended this evening was one of the most transformative I have experienced in quite some time. Barukh Ha-Shem.

Below is the last 22 lines of Mishlei/Proverbs, sentiments praising the inestimable value of a good woman in one's home. It's called "Ayshet Chayil", "Woman of Valour", after the first 2 words. It is traditionally sung by Jewish husbands to their wives each Friday night as a part of the ritual leading up to dinner, expressing his appreciation for all the good she brings him: food, sex, companionship, being his ezer k'negdo - "helpmate opposite him". Joel wrote a gorgeously touching tune for me to these verses, which inspired me to make the effort to achieve valourous womanhood & wifehood in our home. I made this piece back in...1999. Yeah. It's all lightfast inks on watercolour paper & is about 8" x 10". & it's for sale.


Such a beautiful way to start the Shabbat. & this Shabbat was literally wondrous! First of all, R' Ross Singer was in town, his last stop on a two-week trip across North America applying for jobs as his Jerusalem Fellowship is up this summer. We would all love to have him back here in Vancouver, like, crazy-a lot. But really we all love him & his wife Emily so much that we just want them to be in the right place at the right time for them & their kids. They're all so precious.

The "trouble" with Shabbat is that because I can't write or blog for 25 hours, I can't always recall all the beauty & magic that goes on sufficiently to write about it & really get my experience across here.

All I can really say is that we came together as a community this Friday & Saturday. We jived! Shaarey Tefilah used to be, IMHO, the best place to daven & the best place to learn in the whole Lower Mainland. But due to my own unfortunate personal circumstances & due to the synagogue community having gone through a political implosion, I haven't gone in about 3 months. I've attended other Orthodox shuls instead, but I've really missed "the good old days" at Shaarey Tefilah. It's still my home community & I've decided to start going again, but it hasn't been what it could be. In fact, a few months ago I had to make a "I'm going to make a scene if you don't hand me that Torah" face at one of the men. He wasn't going to give the women the Sefer Torah so we could carry it through our section, which is one of the really important & positive things about the shul. There were only 6 of us, so I guess he didn't think that was enough to give it over, but I insisted. He reluctantly handed it over to me & I carried it high among the women so we could all touch it & then returned it to him at the bimah. I have no idea what the sudden change was about, but you can be sure that as long as I am in the congregation, women will have that much access to the Sefer Torah.

Anyway - excuse the major tangent - last night & today it was like nothing bad had ever happened. The pews were crowded with smiling faces, we stirred up great ru'ach/spirit with our prayer & song - we even danced! We used to dance every Friday night, the women & men in separate circles, the children wherever they pleased. It was such a pure expression of joy, an offering to G@d of gratitude for the Shabbat. But we haven't danced in more than a year & a half. To return to that last night broke my heart, it was so beautiful, & because this is what we used to have & it's gone. I miss it.

I sat at the "rabbi table" for dinner, with R' Schachar & R' Ross & we caught up. Jerusalem & Vancouver are too far apart for good friends to dwell in.

& today, too, the davening was sweet & R' Ross' shiurim - like last night's - were engaging. About integrity with G@d & oneself & one's neighbour. Ethics. Between last night & today I saw & visited with probably 50 people who I have missed & who missed me. It's been intensely emotional to re-connect. Beautiful. Thank G@d.

A small group of us were invited to the home where R' Ross was staying for shalosh seudos, the third meal of Shabbat, where we relaxed & hung out, talked like real human people & had a few l'chayims (just like at dinner & lunch!).

My simple, loving experiences over this Shabbat Zachor - the Shabbat of remembering to blot out Amaleyq - reminds me of Yehezkel/Ezekiel 11:19: "And I will give them a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in them; and I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh". Ultimately, the heart of humanity will not be made tender flesh by the Holy One until Messianic times, but I believe it will not be a sudden act of G@d, more like a journey. The global process has already begun & for me personally, I have on occasion had experiences which soften the stone in my own heart. Today was one of those days. I still have a ways to go, but thank G@d.

Shavu'ah tov - godt voch - a good week...

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Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

The "trouble" with Shabbat is that because I can't write or blog for 25 hours, I can't always recall all the beauty & magic that goes on sufficiently to write about it & really get my experience across here.

I don't find that frustrating about Shabbath, but I certainly found it frustrating about this past Sukkôth. (I don't blog on Hol Hammo`ed.)

Interestingly, I have noticed the becoming involved in safruth has helped me kick my addiction to internet and blogs. Of course, safruth is even more forbidden on Shabbath than blogs are-- but I get to engage with qelaf in other ways on Shabbath. (I'm a ba`al qeri'a.)

9:14 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Thanks a lot, Emily :)

Mar Gavriel - I didn't know you were a sofer! Kol ha-kavod :D
Do have any samples of your work posted?

Yeah, I wrote "trouble" in "quotes" because really, to be away from the computer for one day makes that day so beautiful - & of course that day must be Shabbat. As necessary & as convenient as computers have become, despite all their advantages they still do tend to remove us from the real live warm humans who surround us in our everyday lives. So to abstain from cel phones, PDAs, whatever, is such a blessing & brings even more holy contrast to Shabbes.

& being an observant Jew, I have noticed how much of my time is taken up by my iBook each day on the one day I don't use it. it's shown me the disproportionate amount of time I spend at the keyboard blogging, answering e-mails, keeping in touch with students, IMing friends around the globe, editing & creating new courses & writing shirim.

I do blog on Chol Ha-mo'ed - that's very disciplined of you!

I agree that sofrut is a very grounding experience - to work with the skin & copy in silence with intention I find mind & soul-expanding. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's the feeling I get. It strengthens.

I don't get the opportunity to leyn much because I a) belong to an Orthodox shul where if the women want to do that we have to show initiative to meet away from the men & really do it & b) I'm not very good & need lots of practice. I'm chanting pereq Yud & the brakhah of the Megilat Esther on Purim, as I always do for the women's reading. & I have tapes of how to chant maybe one day :)

11:23 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting all the great things about this past Shabbat down "on paper" It was such a beautiful weekend, and I enjoyed being with "the old gang" so much. It was *almost* like R'Ross never left. ::sigh::

(but hey! When were the l'chaim's at the seudah?! I missed out?!! ;) )

4:00 p.m.  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Well, for one online sample of my writing (albeit a very small one), you can look at the image next to my profile.

3:26 a.m.  
Blogger Soferet said...

Alissa - it was great to hang out with you & Morey! The booze was in the backkk :)

Mar Gavriel - oh, thanks! Very nice :)

3:59 p.m.  

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