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.

Friday, January 30, 2004



Watched "Fiddler on the Roof" late into the night. Renewed some of my hopes & dreams. When I was 3 years old I wanted to be like Tevye when I grew up & I still do. Reminded me of my truths & capabilities. I feel re-oriented.
It's been a long haul. I've worked very hard to maintain my groundedness in this process, to keep my kavanah (intention) high & true & honest.
Each word, each letter, each stroke. Black on white. Strength on kindness.
It's all fire.
To say each word. To name each letter. To breathe.
I have felt only slightly tethered to the Earth, like a balloon blowing about its stake, at times drawing near to its base & always threatening to loose itself. I sleep, I pray, I run, I wash, I eat, I write. This is my life.
A beautiful, blessèd life, thank G@d.
But I require further cementing into this very real & very new life as ritual scribe.
As Soferet.
My Ayins are random. some have gaping jaws while others their crowns tangle up in each other. Even when I make their tails long enough, they always are threatened by the following letter: Mem Sofit, Bet, Nun...
& I've noticed that when a Khaf is followed by a Vav, it can look, at first glance, like a Mem without its bridge. My spacing needs work - this will help immeasurably. My work looks much better in cases where Yuds are followed by Nuns (they don't look like Tzadis anymore), & my script has become more square & is beginning to take on a bit of life, find its own voice...
Still trying to befriend Alef, though.
Shabbat Shalom, chaverim

Thursday, January 22, 2004



Studying Mishneh Brurah Tav-Reysh-Tzadi-Alef with R' Ross Singer, my rabbi at Sha'arey Tefilah.

We've been studying the laws of writing & reading a Megilat Esther, partially for his own learning - he knows all about the reading part, just not the sofrut part - & partially for mine - as I know the sofrut part & not the laws pertaining to public kria.

It's been both fun & fascinating. The speed & vocabulary of my Hebrew & Aramaic are both improving. One of the things we learned this week was that the Rama states, "It is our minhag (custom) to crown the letters (put tagin on them)". So there's a reliable Ashkenazi source supporting my crowning of letters, even though I'd already learned to do that from my Sofer & that if all the crowns in a Megilat Esther are omitted, it's still kosher. Also, the cheleq or piece of qlaf at the beginning & end of the Megilah, there's a maklokhet (difference of opinions) on that - "...but not to leave the cheleq basofah" - we're (Ashkenazim) careful to leave only the cheleq at the beginning, not at the end. Then in goes on to say that, "...the GRA (Vilna Ga'on) kvetches about this..." in other words, he disagrees & rules that a cheleq, or extra parchment not to be written on, must be left at both the beginning & the end of the Megilah. The Megilah qlaf I (ok - my Sofer) purchased has both, so that's good.

We also learned about the large Vav in "Vayezata", the last of Haman's (BOO!) executed sons to be named in amud (column) 17. The Vav must be written "longer" says Mishneh Brurah, not "larger" as I have stated. Also, when the Megilah is leyned (chanted) on Purim, Mishneh Brurah states that one must lengthen the *sound* of that Vav as well - pronouncing it like "VVVVVVVVVVVayezata".
But it doesn't tell us why...

I *love* learning Torah!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004



I've had an extrememly eventful week. A week of endings & beginnings, a week of frusteration & joy, of learning & processing.

In preparation for writing the Sefer Torah, I began going through my Tiqun Shm'ot, the book that lays out exactly the way Sefer Sh'mot (the Book of Exodus) must be written. There are times when names of G@d are used to refer to idols or judges, etc, which represents a problem: When to meqadeysh (verbally sanctify) these names & when not to? ALL of G@d's names which appear in the Sefer - there are 10 - must be meqadeyshed. The Qeset HaSofer (Inkwell of the Sofer - the Sofer's rules book) states among its many rules that to err here & sanctify a name which refers to idols is equivalent to "urinating on the Holy of Holies". Oy.

A Tiqun relieves this fear of error by labelling each name "qodesh", holy, or "chol", regular. Now here's the problem:
As I was thumbing through parshat Sh'mot, circling all the qodesh names & putting squares around all the chol names, I came upon a name that was labelled "safeyq" - doubt.
Doubt? How can there be a doubt?
I read the sentence, Exodus 7:16, & it seemed quite clear that G@d was referring to G@d's-self. So why wasn't it qodesh? I e-mailed my Sofer for advice.

I continued my work. Reading pashat Va-era, methodically moving over the letters, it became a meditation for me. I noticed just how many times G@d declares, "Ani Ad@nai!" - "I am The Lord!". Were we not paying attention? Did we treat The Holy One inappropriately? G@d was so tangible, so present with us on our march through the desert, how could we forget that G@d was G@d?

Then again - a safeyq. Again G@d is talking about G@d's-self.
I e-mailed my Sofer again - "EMERGENCY!" in the subject line.

Still further. I see the word "Eloqey" in parshat Bo. It has neither "qodesh" nor "chol" written above it. Why not? Now I'm getting nervous. This Tiqun is a strict standard published in B'nai B'raq (a town so holy, they have no police force, because everyone is too afraid of G@d). If there's no indication, how do I know what to do? I read the pasuq (sentence). It was referring to "eloqey Mitzraim" - the gods of Egypt. So obviously the name is chol. But it isn't labelled, so if a Sofer does not notice, is not sufficiently conscious of the meaning of the full sentence, he could easily make a mistake. A mistake like that is very serious - it passuls (treyfs/makes unkosher) that whole yeri'ah (sheet) of qlaf (parchment). & it must be buried.
I'm waiting to hear back from my Sofer.
I wonder how many passul Sifrei Torah are out there right now...

Wednesday, January 14, 2004



Mid-January already. I'm writing wireless from an attic in Seattle as the rain streaks across my window. Parchment & ink lay before me on the drawing table. I've done some good work since I last wrote 3 months ago - is it *really* THREE months?
The shock of the September 9th suicide bombing at Cafe Hillel on Emeq Refa'im in Jerusalem left a deep scar on my psyche. I left off publishing my journal at that point because I was unable to edit my words appropriately for this blog. There were other bombings, other murders, while I was living there, & it's taken me this long to sufficiently recover my author-ity, my author-consciousness.
The last 3 months have been a whirlwind of friends, family, strangers, students, rabbis, journalists, magazines, newspapers, wedding plans, speaking engagments all furiously spinning round me sitting silently here in the eye of this storm with my ink, quill & parchment.
I will begin my journal once again, filling in the time since I left Israel & working my way forward to this relationship of black fire on white flame.
kol tuv

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