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, December 29, 2004



45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10018

(This is the only Jewish organization with grass-roots experience and connections with non-Jewish non-governmental organizations and community-based devlopment groups in the tsunami region. The Shalom Center recently presented AJWS' head, Ruth Messinger, the Menorah Award for her work though AJWS in lighting up dark places of despair.)

P.O. Box 1856
Merrifield, Va. 22116-8056

Tuesday, December 28, 2004



Since Joel has now been gone for 10 daze (that's not a typo) & I'm feeling a tad lonely, I'm going to share:

10 Random Things You Don't Know About Me

1. The September I was born, it was -65C & there was 15 feet of snow where my family lived, in the Caribou.
2. I am a documentary addict.
3. I used to compete in equestrian show-jumping & teach mentally & physically challenged children how to horseback ride (before my hand was crushed).
4. I used to compete in archery (before my hand was crushed).
5. I used to compete in fencing (ditto - are you noticing a pattern here ;+>?). I still fence, but not often as depending on my opponent I can further injure my hand, because it's in such a delicate state right now. I'll go back to it when I have less calIigraphy/more physio. I can fence but not ride or shoot (arrows) now because my fingers don't open or close sufficiently. It's also hard to do in a long skirt (}:+(].
6. I love crossword puzzles, word searches & verbal arithmetic problems.
7. I dropped out of 2 art schools because all my classmates were prima donnas & my instructors were too bizaarre for words.
8. I was a gemologist before I took up sofrut, grading stones, designing & repairing jewellery & watches.
9. Before I was a gemologist, I was a tobacconist. I taught many men how to properly cut, light & smoke cigars & how to pack, smoke & care for a pipe.
10. I have had *four* concussions.

I'm so glad Joel is, G@d willing, returning home on Thursday...



I woke this morning feeling just as crooked & bent as I did when I went to bed last night. The screw in my hand hurts & the area between my index & middle finger is swollen. That's where the greatest nerve damage was done when my hand was crushed, & these two fingers, which have not straightened in 14 years, are two of the three digits vital to my work.

I've noticed that the traffic on my site decreases each time I kvetch about the pain I'm in. So I'm taking the hint & will lighten up on updating everyone on my physical challenges.

So instead, here's more proof that G@d exists:
The Global Conciousness Project

Not that I need "proof". The proof is within each one of us, I believe, & on the outside as well. I know this sounds irrational to people without faith, but that's one of those interesting differences which is in fact commonalities :)

Monday, December 27, 2004



Writing has been slow today (again :+[) but with not so many breaks. My focus has been better as well, barukh haShem. I've really been enjoying writing the shir (song) amudim (columns) in Ha'azinu (the last Parsha/portion of the Torah). I've done the first set & it's been very interesting & challenging to map out all the spacing & watch the layout unfold. It's similar to the tiqun, so I'm happy about that.

& about the first entry below: as I've stated before, I'm not writing this Sefer from start to finish; I'm writing it as the yeri'ot (sheets) are sent me. Ha'azinu is a good example, because the scoring on the parchment is different for it than for anywhere else in the whole Torah. So I will write the whole thing (G@d willing), but not in order. That's one rule that applies to mezuzas & tefilin which does not apply to Sifrei Torah. You *have* to write the first two in order & are not allowed to correct, otherwise they are pasul (not kosher for use). But, thank G@d, a Sefer one can write in whatever order one chooses.




"Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it."



It's a real challenge for me to remain closely engaged with my work today. I re-cut my quill before I began work & it looked good, but I discovered as I wrote that unless I kept *exactly* the correct angle with each stroke, the wide ones were too thin & the thin ones were too wide. So there was not the contrast ideal for well executed ST"M. After battling with the quill to discover what I'd done to my instrument to cause it to behave this way, I realised that it was because the very tip was just a hair too thin. In other words, I'd sharpened it too much & it didn't retain it's shape under the pressure I put on it. It kept bending, but it was subtle, so it took me a while to figure out what was going on mechanically. I cut it again. This is one of the disadvantages of not having a mentor near me who I can consult with.

I've also been taking frequent breaks today, partly because my writing isn't at it's very best & I find that discouraging (I'm the sort who doesn't have patience with the "off days" we all have) & partly because I've had trouble deepening my focus. Very distractable I keep breaking & re-centre-ing so that my mind is in Sefer Torah space.

All this being said, I'm pleased to report that I've written all or part of the following Parshiyot: Haazinu, Bo, Shoftim, Vayechi, Pinchas, Mishpatim, Piqudey, Sh'mot, Yitro, Va'eira & Ki Teytzey.

& then I look at the news & see thousands of souls have drowned & left this world. Why does G@d make tsunamis?
Is writing a Torah useless in the face of death or is it all the more vital?

Friday, December 24, 2004



Referencing yesterday's "Large Zayin" post: in Breyshit verse 34:31 the letter Zayin in the word hach'zonah ("as a harlot") is written large. If this letter is omitted, the resulting word is ha'chonah ("the labeling with a title"). Perhaps Dinah's brothers do not want her to be labelled as a harlot, or perhaps they do not want her to receive the title "princess of the city of Shechem" which would separate her from both family and God's promised lineage.

In the previous verse, Ya'akov complains to Shimon and Levi that "you stirred up/disturbed me to make me odios/stinky". His reputation was recently changed from that of someone crooked to that of someone staright and upright (see angel wrestling). Now he is worried that his sons have undone what he gained at the river Yabok. But soon afterwards God assures him that his "name" has not reverted from Yisrael ("straight") to Ya'akov ("crooked").

Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum comments that in verse 32:23 there is a child missing: "And he took his two wives, his two handmaids, and his eleven sons." What happened to Dinah, Ya'akov's daughter? Rashi taught that Ya'akov hid her in a box, so Esav would not see her and want her for a wife. Rashi adds that Ya'akov was punished for this when Dinah went out and was violated by Shechem. Rashi claims Ya'akov should have been sensitive to his brother's needs, and perhaps Dinah might been a positive influence on Esav.

Jeffrey Feinberg notes that we are not sure Sh'chem raped Dinah. The verb anah means to humiliate or humble, and could be used for both rape or for taking a woman without the proper formalities. See Deuteronomy 21:14, 22:24, and 22:29. The Torah describes how Shimon and Levi attacked the city and ransacked it, adding that it was "because they defiled their sister". Who is "they", asks the Torah Temimah? It was Sh'chem the Prince who had abducted Dinah, so why implicate an entirely innocent community? The Rambam echoes this question by noting Ya'akov's anger with Shimon and Levi: if the whole town had been guilty, why would Ya'akov have been upset at his sons fearlessly pursuing justice? The traditional answer, provided by the Torah Teminah, is that the people of Sh'chem did not have law-courts and did not judge themselves; since God desires justice, their lack of justice was an offense significant enough for the entire town to earn punishment. But Genesis 20:9 and Deuteronomy 24:4 suggest that an enitre community shares the guilt of a sexual crime.

In verse 34:10 the word sachar means "moving about to do business". What is being discussed by the people of Shechem is whether to offer the children of Ya'akov both use of land and a status similar to licensed merchants. Since Ya'akov was wealthy and had many sons this seemed smart to the men of Shechem: Ya'akov's family would be buying goods from their city, and when those eleven sons married each would pay for a bride, further transfering wealth from Ya'akov's family to the city.

Why is Ya'akov's new name of Israel re-empahsized in verse 35:10? Rashi answers that Ya'akov had still been acting craftily, both in hiding Dinah from Esav and in delaying returning to Beth El as he had vowed after his dream of the ladder. Now both of those events have met their consequences, and Ya'akov forsakes trying to be crafty. Thus he truly has shifted from being Ya'akov ("crooked", "crafty", "heel") to being Yisrael ("straight", "upright", or "striving" ... "with God").

...& there is still that midrash about how Dinah was originally conceived in Rachel's womb & haShem switched Dinah to Le'ah. You can read all about it at Shema Yisrael .

Gut Shabbes

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A LARGE ZAYIN (no snickering, please)


Joel & I spoke tonight for an hour & a half, which was terrific as we miss each other so much. One of the things we started talking about was this parsha & the Zayin which, according to some traditions, is written large in relation to the rest of the text. & the word the Zayin is in is the word "zonah" (whore). Fascinating. & the "zonah" here is Dinah.

I find it amazing that there is more than one large Zayin in TaNaKH. The other one I already knew about is in Malachi. But with this one, such a story about how Ya'akov is disconnected from his children by Leah. If Dinah had been born to Rachel (& there is a midrash about that), you can bet there would have been hell to pay. But instead, he makes a deal with the rapist & his father. & he is concerned that his reputation has been harmed after Dinah's brothers take revenge on the Shkhemites. The same brothers who see that this deal does not do justice to their little sister. They are the ones who want to be sure that Dinah is never thought of as a whore.

So the Zayin in "zonah" is written large - but why? Because "zayin" is vulgar-talk for "penis" & she was raped? Because she is *not* a zonah, as she was over powered? I'm going to do further research on this. But I'm sure it is part of the same disconnect between fathers & children in the Genesis narrative that begins with Terach & his son Avraham Avinu. Heck, even Noach & his son Ham.

The other large Zayin can be found in Parshat Shabat HaGadol/Malachi 3:22:
"Zik'ru torat Moshe avdi asher tziv'u'i'ti oto v'choreyv al-kol-yisra'eyl chuqim umishpatim:"

"Remember the teaching of Moshe My servant, which I commanded him in Choreyv for all Israel, including statutes and ordinances:"

Why is the Zayin of "Zik'ru" written very large here? The numerical value of Zayin is 7 and here G@D is reminding us to pay attention to Torah. This is to signify the prominent metaphysical spiritual power of the seventh day, Shabat (Tosefes Berachah, Exodus 31:17), and to show the brilliant effect it has on the weekdays. We always think of Shabat as being at the end of each week, but if you look closely at the head of the Zayin, it is looking both backward and forward, allowing us the anticipation of Shabat on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and letting us bask in the glow of Shabat on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday (Pesachim 106a).

Food for thought...



My hand is in bad shape. Not even just my hand, but my whole right arm, shoulder, neck & my left hip :(
& the first knuckle on my right thumb is swollen up about twice the size of my left, non-writing one. It's really slowing me down.
I wish I could afford to get appropriate medical support for it. Basic medical is covered in BC, but massage, chiropractic & physio are all extra. I wistfully think back to the goode olde days when it was all free...
I'm grateful that my work demands I focus on qedusha, as that is paramount, but it sure would be Heaven to not always be battling pain.



A comment was made recently by one of the alters at our shul. The comment was this:

"The women are wearing too many hats to services"

At first I thought to myself, "That's wierd - the married women only wear one hat each". & then I thought, "oh, how kind of them - they recognise how much work we all do to keep our poor little synagogue running". But then it was explained to me - because I *am* a blonde - that the comment was a complaint against the married women who cover their hair.

Wowee. I never would have imagined. There's been some growing pains in the house, that's all. The alters consider us UTJ, which is still our official affiliation, but us young'uns consider our shul to be Orthodox & want to change affiliations. & honestly, I can't tell the difference between the two, really. We daven with a mechitzah, use the Artscroll Ashkenaz sidur, have a chalavi kitchen for which our rabbi - with Orthodox s'mikha - is the mashgiach...& the more younger people who join, the more women with covered heads there are at services. I thought that was a *good* thing...I don't see the problem, myself. You know, higher membership, more traditional observance...

Now don't get me wrong, I know that there are about as many things a married woman can choose, halakhically or not, to do with her hair (including nothing) as there are types of hair. & not every wed woman does cover her hair - most of us wear hats & have our hair hanging down. I usually either tuck all my hair up inside a hat or wear a tichl. But I don't see what's so offensive that anybody would feel the need to make a complaint about us on the other side of the mechitzah (where they shouldn't be looking) & our observant dress.

& I feel uncomfortable when Jews judge each other negatively for making different Halakhic choices, one from the other.

What about Ahavas Yisro'el?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004



Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers – Sondra Henry & Emily Taitz 1983 Second Edition, Revised Biblio Press

“It was rare to find a footnote such as this one by an anonymous woman:

‘I beseech the reader not to judge me harshly when he finds that mistakes have crept into this work; for when I was engaged in copying it, God blessed me with a son, and thus I could not attend to my business properly.’”

See Goitein, Sidrei Hinukh, p. 64

...So there seems to be evidence of a gap between theory & practice. Definitely worth further investigation.



Here's some stuff I haven't written about yet, courtesy one of my rabbis studying with me:)
The Shaarey Tshuvah says that women are permitted to write STaM (not tfilin) & Megillot because you can't tell if a woman wrote a Sefer just by looking at it. Just like you can *see* the shirtut on a Sefer, but you can't tell if the shirtut was, in fact, made with ibud lishma as it's supposed to be. So if a Sefer *looks* kosher, then it *is* kosher - that's the only way you can tell if it's kosher - by *looking* at it & if it checks out physically, it's fine.

Benefit of the doubt...



An e-mail I received:

From: "!"
Subject: why?

why did you feel the need to write torahs?
I mean wasn't there anything else you could do with yourself that would
accomplish more?

Well, "!", I do pray that G@d will bless my husband & I with children. & we believe that raising globally healthy children, imbued with Yirat Shamayim/Awe of Heaven is actually more important than writing a Sefer Torah. After all, if we don't teach kids to be open to Torah when they're young, all the Torah scrolls in the world will be useless to those future Jewish adults whose hearts are closed.
If we don't do our job as parents, then it takes the neys, miracle, of G@D turning hearts of stone back into flesh, to turn us back to Torah.

Monday, December 20, 2004



As promised, I am beginning to share the research I've turned up on women who have done various types of work in sofrut. Dulcie was a twelfth-century communal leader who was martyred (I have 2 dates for this which I am still verifying: 22nd Kislev 1196 OR 1213). The information below was all either found in multiple sites on the internet, in "Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers" by Sondra Henry & Emily Taitz or in R' Tirzah Firestone's book, "The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom".

Dulcie of Worms was part of a distinguished family of scholarly Franco-German Jews associated with the academies of higher learning in the cities of Worms, Mayence, and Speier. She was the great-granddaughter of the renowned French commentator "Rashi" (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105).

In a poem, Dulcie's husband, the renowned Rabbi Eliezer Ben Yehudah of Worms, describes her religious devotion as well as her work in leading women's prayers in the synagogues, holding public discourses on Shabbat and teaching women in various cities. He tells us that she supported his scholarly work with her business activities, provided room and board for his students, and also escorted brides, sewed Torah scrolls, made candles for the synagogue, etc.

Rebbetzin Dulcie also instructed her two daughters, named Belet and Chana. Both of the girls and Rebbetzin Dulcie were brutally murdered in 1196, between the second and third crusades, when two Soldiers of the Cross broke into their house. Despite her heroic efforts to save them, both girls were killed. Her son was wounded in the same incident and later died.

She was mourned as, "A singer of hymns and prayers, a speaker of supplications, a declarer of 'Pittum HaKetoret' and the Ten Commandments." Dulcie may have been one of the first of a group of women known in the Yiddish speaking world as the "fizogerins" or foresayers. These women led the women's congregation in the balcony of the synagogue while the men prayed below. They had to be learned enough to read aloud and to trabslate the prayers from the Hebrew to the vernacular for those congregants who did not know Hebrew. Many of them wrote their own prayers or supplications (called techinot/techines) for the women's congregation.

...One can't help but wonder what the brou-ha-ha is all about these days when a woman sews a Sefer or when women conduct their own services. Apparently it was acceptable 900 years ago. Any thoughts?

Saturday, December 18, 2004


BS"D write anything real in my blog tonight (sorry). Joel is getting ready to attend part 3 of his Maggid training program in NY for the next 12 days (*sob*) & I have just learned how to make links actually work! I know nothing about coding - c'mon, I write on leather with a feather :) - & any revisions to my template or photos added have been a complete accident, so now I'm going to have fun nerding out making the links in my previous posts all *go*! Very exciting. Then I can start linking to some of your blogs, too!
Shavu'ah tov!



This is a post a received before Shabbes, both thoughtful & amusing, from my buddy R' Neal currently in Yerushalayim (lucky guy!). I pray that his wish come true for everyone who is not already beautifying each mitzvah they live.

Dear Friends:

Greetings from Jerusalem! Here's a thought to take into Shabbat: upon
the advice of a friend, I was strolling through a neighborhood
called Yemin Moshe, which has a street devoted to fine arts and
craft shops. Along this street, there are painters, ceramic artisans,
weavers, calligraphers, silversmiths- and one person who has a sign
outside his Judaica shop which announces (in English) that he is
a "Mitzvah Beautifier!"

Now, it's clear what he means- it's an awkward translation of the
concept of "hiddur mitzvah," or making our commanded and ritual
actions more beautiful. That's why we use fine goblets for Kiddush,
or silver candlesticks for Shabbat candles, or hang lovely curtains
in front of the Ark in the synagogue- to make the mitzvah more
beautiful and appealing. So this artist is someone who makes ritual
Jewish objects at a high level of craftsmanship, and he translated
this as "mitzvah beautifier."

But I love this idea! In fact, I think we should all be "mitzvah
beautifiers" in everything we do! What if we "beautified" not just
Shabbat and the holidays, but our tzedakah, our acts of compassion,
our Torah study and our prayers, too?

Here's wishing you a beautiful Shabbat, and the insight and
creativity to be a "mitzvah beautifier" all week long.

shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Neal

PS- For those who asked- still no suitcase, but El Al assures me that
it's at least in the country.

PPS- Please feel free to forward these posts to your friends, or
anybody you think would enjoy receiving them, or let me know if there
are people you think should receive an invitation to sign up. Nothing
would make me happier than learning Torah with new and old friends.



Friends, this just in from Michael Cohen, a rabbi who lives at Kibbutz Ketura, an environmentally active community in the southern tip of Israel near Eilat. Roll, baby roll.
Date:    Sun, 12 Dec 2004
From:    michael and alison
Subject: Israel Bike Ride for Peace & The Environment

The 3rd Annual Arava Institute-Hazon Cycling for Peace, Partnership, and Environmental Protection will take place May 10-17, 2005. A great way to see Israel:  the Bike Ride, which also takes place during Yom Ha'atzmaoot, is from Jeruasalem to Eilat including Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon.
Please share this information with congregants, students, and others. 59 of the 150
positions have already been filled.
For more information go to:

Kibbutz Ketura
D.N. Eilot 88840
08 630-6338/6324 (w)
08 635-6584 (h)
972 52 223-9740 (cl)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004




Late January 2004: "...& they saw..." the very first word I wrote in the Sefer Torah, from Parshat Sh'mot, Exodus 5:19. (photo credit: Jay Zipursky

I was recently repairing a Sefer in Richmond...a very well-loved (read worn) Torah. As I overwrite the crumbling letters in the shir columns of Parshat Ha'azinu I see that what has caused much of the wear is the sofer himself. Not to speak disrespectfully of another in my profession who undoubtedly had more experience than I...

Sirtut - scoring - on the qlaf, which must be done lishma (for the sake of the mitzvah only, with no alterior motive), serves a dual purpose: it makes guidelines for the letters to hang from & facillitates the sofer in making his horizontal strokes evenly. It is this groove that one must run the shpitz of one's quill-tip along. There is wear all along the tiny ridge that he ought to have run his quill against, not over. So I have a tiny, threadlike line running through most letters to fill in because of this. As you can see in the picture above, I'm guilty of the same thing. So now I'm much more careful to keep the horizontal strokes *at* the scoring & not above. Of course, frequently one must write across that line, like for Lamed & making tagin (crowns) & all...

So on Sunday I found out that I'm teaching at Kallah! Wahoo! I'm *so* pleased! This will be my third time, barukh haShem, & I'm so grateful for the opportunity & excited & honoured! This will be my fourth Kallah, a bi-annual Jew-Do where a thousand Yidden flock from all over the world to a small US college campus to eat, sing, dance, drum, daven, learn & celebrate together. Check it out.

I know, you want to know why a nice Orthodox girl like me with a reputation to protect would risk being part of a Jewish Renewal event. Well,...I'll blog about that later ;+>

I was up all night again, insomaniac - came to work at my desk Monday morning to see the debris from the night before in front of the computer. A yoghurt container, goat cheese, nuts...apparently I crave protein when I can't sleep.

But I *did* make a GREAT point on my nib - & that made all the difference. Such a dream to write with...

Yay - I wrote 1 amud (column) in only 2 days! Shehechiyanu! My hand, my back, my shoulders & my hip are exhausted, but i'm SO HAPPY! Wheee! Now I know that I can really do it. This has been a goal of mine since the beginning & now, thank G@d, I've reached it.

I doubt I'll be able to keep up this pace, at least not *yet*. My screw started to hurt a lot too & the muscle below my thumb is given out - but I did it!

Did I not mention I have a screw in my writing hand? My paw was crushed by a car several years ago & I almost lost one of my fingers. But thank G@d I made a (long, slow & frusrating) miraculous recovery, so now I'm just bionic. :)

It does make things difficult, tho', being slightly disabled.

I watched "The Lion in Winter" on CBC until 2 am. One of my favourite movies of all time. Kate Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins & a teenaged Timothy Dalton. Such a great line from Katharine Hepburn about war.

Monday, December 13, 2004



This chant originated at Bayit Chadash

Chom ha-Eysh
Ts'lil ha-Mayim
Ani margish
Zot be-Gufi


Love the Earth
Love the Sky
Heat of Fire
Drop of Water
I can feel them
In my Body
In my Spirit
& in my Soul


(repeat as necessary to access the Eyn Sof)



Well, I would never have believed it would happen in my lifetime, but my words have been included in a book of quotations. I'm not even pushin' up daisies yet!
I discovered it quite by accident on the internet & have since purchased a copy each for my Mum (she'll be so proud!) & my mother-in-law (her too!).
This new book by Elaine Bernstein Partnow, entitled "The Quotable Jewish Woman" (Jewish Lights Publishing), is a good-looking hardcover containing several hundred pages of our thoughts, our feelings, & our insights as Jewish women. Some are inspirational & some are cranky, but either way it's a cracking good read. & no, I'm not getting any kind of commission for writing this. How could you suggest such a thing ;+>

Anyway, check it out here.

I'm quoted twice on page 208, just above Dorothy Parker, who happens to be a distant cousin of Joel's dad. Which reminds me - I must buy a copy for him & his wife too :) it's still Chanukah, after all!

Note to self: always watch what you say now for the rest of your life, because somebody might be listening...



I spent late tonight cathing up on e-mail & blogging while listening to some of my fave Chanukah cds...Festival of Lights Vol 1 & 2, Happy Hannukah My Friend, & of course, the quintessential Chanukah album: Alan Eder's Reggae Chanukah! The best track on the disc, altho' I hate to single one out, is The Latke Song, a samba/mambo influenced tune sung by the lovely & talented Chava Mirel that somehow smacks of dramatic 80's Rastafarianism. It's so West African, yet so Barry Manilow...

After we lit I was making cocoa for Joel & me to enjoy in front of the chanukiah when I was struck by something quite disturbing. I had grabbed some Land-O-Lakes cocoa because it was late at night & nothing else at our little corner store had a heksher. We normally buy organic, but this was a cocoa *emergency*. You're familiar with the Land-O-Lakes "mascot"? She's a submissive buckskin-clothed First Nations maiden. You know the sort. The "Noble Savage" of yore, when once our governments had succeded in completely dispossessing the Aboriginal Peoples, suddenly it was all en vogue to further debase them by making charicatures of vaguely-exotic-yet-almost-still-white-looking product logos. I suppose once they were no longer a threat to the future of Canada & the US it was safe to romanticise them. Anyway, I'm surprised this kneeling Native girl still exists on the front of the box & each envelope of chocolately goodness. So as I was about to tear open the packet & pour the crystals into our mugs, I realised that the notch in the envelope was perpendicular to the girl's *throat*! I tore straight across & sure enough, I decapitated her. You'd think the artwork would be insulting enough, but apparently we need to tear the head off this innocent as well. So the second packet I purposefully ripped *around* her head. Blah.

What has all this to do with Chanukah? Well, as Red Wolf says, "If you have one drop of Indian Blood in you, you are Indian, & must walk the Indian Path." Red Wolf has got something there. What he's saying is "don't assimilate". & that's what Chanukah is all about. Being true to yourself, your G@d & your people.

Jews have sometimes been exotified, most often by Chrisitan authors & artists & the 1800s. But more often than not, we have been demonised. But regardless of whether others see us as the romantic prophet-warrior-kings of the Bible or as the hook-nosed money-grubbers of Hitler, we must always remember that those views come from the OUTSIDE. What others project on us is in fact *not* what we are. We must stand in our truth & Be who we Are.
It's a great mitzvah.
The Mitzvah Meyuchedet.

Leylah tov.

Sunday, December 12, 2004



Lo ve-hayil ve-lo ve-choah, ki im be-ruhi . . .
Not by power, not by might; but by My spirit . . .

Zechariah 4:6

May all our earthly goals be realised in this way, ameyn.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004




Autumn 2004: 2 of the last columns in Parshat Vayechi.(photo credit: A. Barclay)



Tues Nov 30
Negotiating for a teaching stint at a Hebrew High School program. I'm looking forward to working with teens & showing them the wonders of the Alefbet. Pierre Berton died & I wept. The first book of his I ever read was "The Secret World of Og", when I was 10 years old. One of our national giants, whose face & voice I grew up seeing on TV & hearing on CBC. What is going to happen to Canadian Identity when we've lost all our greats? Rick Mercer seems to be the only Canuck picking up the banner, willing to march on...

Wed Dec 1
Phone call negotiating with an all-woman Canadian film company who wants to make a movie of my life story. Hopefully my life isn't over yet, tho'...I still feel half baked :)
I'm concerned that a dramatisation could put my reputation at risk, with no way to restore it. If G@d wants me to have a lot of money, He'll find a way to give it to me without my selling out. I remember that all through the contract talks. That I know I am willing to walk away & that this gives me the freedom to behave appropriately. Like guarding my personal life & monitoring the way my family, my friends, my community, my Jews are all portrayed. Once they make a movie of you, everyone thinks it's the G@d's honest truth, even if it's a dramatization & they say that it's *based* on a true story. I have confidence that the folks at the film production company are all good people, tho', so we'll see.
I found myself pulled in many directions by other peoples' needs today & didn't even get any food in me before 3pm. Everything today was harder than it needed to be or should have been. Very frustrating. Thank G@d.

THU dec 2
A word about miqveh. The attendant made small talk while checking my back for stray hairs or anything that may interfere with the water's ability to completely enveolp me. "So you must be a real miqveh expert, what with your job...", she said to me under the bright lights. I'm very intrigued by her. She's very young, married, wears a sheytl, American (she says "Gahd" for G@d) & each of the 3 times I have encountered her she has asked pointed questions about "my work". I like her & feel cautious around her at the same time.
Insomnia won again tonight, so I was up learning Torah & researching & blogging until after 4am. Then I found the ping-0-matic site
I can die happy now. laylah tov zzzzz...

fri dec 3 & Sat dec 4
I woke exhausted & with hardly any time to prep for Shabbes. I did manage to make the cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup that Joel loves so much. He made a huge salad & we went to shul for Qabalat Shabat. It's Jodi's last one before she takes off to Israel for 6 weeks, so we had a so-long shabbes dinner at her place.
It was a good time, lots of singing & great food :)
I was up twice in the night, once around 3am & then again at 8, but I'd hardly slept so I was furious that the light had woken me. I returned to bed at 9 & then re-awakened at 12:15. So I'd missed our R' Schachar & Me'ira's first baby naming & was very discouraged. but I showed up for the qidush & everyone was very concerned. Just the same old insomnia, I told them.
Free pizza & beer after shabbes at Shaarey Tefilah Saturday night for "the No Dinner Dinner" fundraiser. Many smiles. It's so nice to hang out with my friends from shul when it's not Shabat. We can play music & talk about work & do all sorts of things! ;+>
Joel played through his set after we came home & I caught up on the endless work. Thank G@d there's always more to do...

Sun dec 5
It's all fuzzy. Just more writing.

Mon dec 6
The letters are slowly taking on a life of their own. here & there I see signs of awakening consciousness in the tiny black forms I repeat for hours each day. My spacing is still not perfect. But it *is* perfecting, barukh HaShem. I look forward to the day when my letters dance the way my sofer's letter's do. I mean, they'll have their own rhythm, but they will *move*...

While I was writing tonight I received a call from sofer fixing Torah at Shaarey Tefilah. So, you may ask, why didn't they ask me to do it? That's an excellent question. First off, not our entire synagogue holds by the same hashgafa as I do, which means that although the Halakhah which I use to give a foundation to my work is valid, not everybody makes the same choices. I fully support this, as I believe all of us need to give each other room in our Jewish practice. So since these Sifrei Torah which needed repair are to again be used for public reading, if not everyone in the shul would accept a woman-repaired Torah, then those people would be excluded from Torah services if one of these were used. Therefore we can't have me fix them. Also, both the passul ones actually were on loan from one of our elder members, so it was really up to him to have them repaired & to choose who to do the job. Anyway, as long as they're done in a timely & skilfull way, I have no more to say about it :)
So the sofer asked me if I had any double-edged razor blades he could use to make one of the repairs. I apologised & said no - that I had very fine sandpaper & an electric eraser, but that I had worn the gold plating off my razor blades so had none left to loan him. My sofer taught me that no base metal (such as steel, because it is reminiscent of war) can come in contact with the qlaf, so once & wear the gold or silver off my tools, they need replacing. I hadn't received any new ones yet, In fact, I'm considering plating some blades & needles myself, except for the problem of getting & handling arsenic...
Anyway, I offered him the tools that I *did* have, but he really needed a razor blade, so I apologised for not being of any help & wished him good luck.
Up til 4am again, lack of daylight at this time of year is really not healthy & I feel discouraged as I know this is leftover terror from Jerusalem & stress brought on by work-related issues.
I forgot to turn the heat down when I went to bed hours earlier & noticed that the qlaf had curled around the edge of my desk like it's desperately trying to grab a it's going to fall...
It's reminiscent of the first Megilat Esther qlaf I worked with. Each time we cooked dinner, the moisture in the apartment would cause it to roll it was alive. Well it was...once.

Monday, December 06, 2004



Light Through Skin.jpg

May 30, 2004: I'm holding a blank yeri'ah of Torah qlaf up to a window to show the grain of the hide to my students at Burquest. (photo credit: unknown)

Saturday, December 04, 2004



I have been meaning to write for some time about my possibly being the first woman to write a Sefer Torah. I may in fact, not be that woman & that's cool.

I've strongly encouraged Kadima, journalists, radio hosts, TV folks & film makers who I have encountered more & more frequently to *not* make this claim on my behalf. Why? Well, because despite all the research done by me & a team of rabbis, sofrim & academics (including historians, anthropologists & museum curators), we have found very little evidence that there has ever been a female Torah scibe, *but just because we haven't found her, doesn't mean she never existed*. So since we will probably not be able to proove she never existed, that means I can never confidently claim to be the first.

But as I said, I'm ok with that.

I did not pursue this dream so that I could become famous, or so that people would be jealous of me, or so that I would become rich, or *any other* reason aside from this: I have believed since I was a child that I was meant to do this work.
So G@d put me in a female body - what that means is that I have had to spend years learning Torah for it's own sake & along the way pray that I found Halakhic permission for women to write. It means that many people placed multiple barriers in my path. It means that I couldn't just sign up for a class in B'nei B'raq the way men like my Sofer did & learn sofrut quickly & cheaply. It also means that I had to soul-search to make sure that I would do this work *as a mitzvah*, as it deserves, because I would get all sorts of attention & opportunites that a male sofer would not & I didn't want those things to pull me off centre. It also means that I would need support from many people to help me achieve my dream, my goal, my MITZVAH MEYUCHEDET. & I did, thank G@d :) bless 'em...

The only reason why "first" is important is because it allows the previously closed door to be cracked open a little, should others wish to follow. It facilitates the next one & the next one & the next one. It is not - or at least should not be treated as - a position of fame, but one of service. The next woman who wants to become a soferet will have fewer outside obstacles than I did & that is a brakhah. & yes, I do wish to take on students in the future, but not until I finish this Sefer Torah :) it's a serious thing to mentor a person to become a sofer, & until I feel worthy to pass this on to another, I will keep working on my Self. Students deserve the *best* a teacher can give tham. Always.

All this being said, I hope I don't come off sounding bitter - I'm just very, very tired :)
& grateful to the Holy One for making everything possible, in the right time, ameyn.

My next plan is to blog about some women I have researched who I *suspect* may have written or repaired Sifrei in the past. I really do want to share this information with the world because a) it's real & b) it shouldn't be a secret & c) I would prefer to establish that there was in fact a tradition of female scribes *rather* than establish that I am the first one. I'm not so invested in being first. People who stand to make money off of associating with me *are* invested in making this claim, so just for the record, I'M JUST HAPPY TO BE WRITING A TORAH & I DO NOT FEEL THREATENED THAT A WOMAN MAY HAVE DONE THIS BEFORE.

Should that have been all in caps? I don't want a "methinks the lady doth protest too much" situation here...

But anyway, if I (or anyone) discovers that a woman has written a Sefer Torah before me, then what we need to do is *honour* that woman! Because either she had to do it in secret or in drag or her name was hidden from generations of Jews who came after her. She deserves that recognition.

At least I had the privilege of doing this publicly, in a dress & my name will not be erased from Israel, B"H.

So as much as I was threatened & blocked, & harassed, etc, the bottom line is that I'm still writing, thank G@d, & someday soon, other women will be too!

In the meantime, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that our various Jewish factions don't draw their lines *quite* so deeply in the sand.

Friday, December 03, 2004



Shanna shalom -
Thank you for commenting on my work & linking to the Women's Torah Project site. Very much appreciated. I'd be happy to share with you whatever information, Halakhic or historic, that would interest you as to why a woman *may* not yet have written a Sefer Torah. I say "may" because altho' I've been doing research for a long time on this & with much help, I cannot conclusively claim that I am the first. Being first, however, is only important because it is a position of service, opening the door to others more easily. I suspect that the first may have been HaSoferet, a servant of King Solomon mentioned in Ezra & Nechemiyah. That being said, there is still much work & learning to do...
I have really enjoyed perusing your blog & will visit often.
Zei gezunt & have a beautiful Shabbes.



There is a Midrash which states that during all the years that Avraham Avinu v'Sarah Emanu were childless, each intimate encounter between them began a new Jewish soul. These Jewish souls are those who are planted into non-Jewish families by HaShem & later convert formally to Judaism. Because these souls have something to bring to their families, & to the Jewish People, that nobody else can. That is why, in each reJewvenated soul's Hebrew name, the parents of gerim are "Abraham our Father & Sarah our Mother".
Gut Shabbes

Thursday, December 02, 2004



Feb 17th, 1998
CHESED (kindness) is the gateway to happiness.

Love - Ahavah - you can't define an emotion. It's a personal experience.

RAMBaN (Nachmanides) - you ca't really love others as yourself, that's too extreme. But wish for them all the success in study, love, career. Opposite of envy. We can't be envious of anyone except our students & children.

If you identify with someone (with love), you feel as successful or as ________ them.
The energy you give out is what you get back (mirror/pond principle). Love in action.
Do not use kindness to manipulate other people.
No revenge - protect yourself but don't be active back.
No grudge.
Harder to do Chesed for parents 'cause they make demands.
Some acts of kindness are easier than others.
Don't build up on what might happen or could happen when admonishing someone.
"Chassidic Tales of the Holocaust" by..?
When you love someone, it covers over their faults, but it doesn't mean you're blind to the faults - compassion.
If your love doesn't have a kindness aspect it won't last, but if you feel you love someone, you do.

I can't believe that was almost 7 years ago. Which means the Aviel that was living in Yerushalayim learning Torah then is not the same Aviel living in Vancouver learning Torah today. Thank G@d for the time to climb that ladder, Jacob's Ladder, of learning, so we can take steps towards YOU, HaShem, & alter our Selves as we approach (even if sometimes we slip).

These past few days I have learned from blogging old notes on Torah learning that we write about ourselves even when we're writing about someone or something else. What RAMBaN wrote about betrays much about his soul, his self & those who teach RAMBaN also show them Selves through choosing what to teach or how & those of us who learn RAMBaN through the lense of these teachers & take notes that apply to our Selves.



You Are A Soul

Only bodies experience stress. Souls are serene. Identify with your soul; stress and tension will melt away.

Your essence is not your negative thoughts and distressful feelings. Your essence is you soul. If you are stressed, or tense, or worried, or frustrated, or upset, mentally step back and observe your thoughts and feelings. This will immediately help you gain a more objective perspective.

(From Rabbi Pliskin’s book, Serenity, p.101)



Tuesday, August 24th
e-mail campaign gathering guests for chupah...helped our mothers find transport from the west coast on 2 days noticed...arranged with R' Neal all synagogue, beach & reception logistics...breakfast, lunch, dinner with Adam, Maggie & their ginger tabby with Adam at the corner grocery...met his prof who was a fabulous Fringe Frum Jew & I want to stay in orbit with R' Gafni re ketubah wording...

The only full story I recall from these hastily taken notes is that when I told Adam's prof (whose name escapes me, I'm sad to say) that I was going to Massachusetts to get married, she wished me mazal tov, asked me all kinds of happy questions & then apologised to me because she assumed that my "partner" was male. I didn't understand, until Adam explained to me that gay marriages were still allowed in that state, so she thought I was going *there* to get married because I was a lesbian. I laughed, told her she had nothing to apologise for, & smilingly told her that I just didn't know that about Massachusetts. "I'm Canadian," I grinned,"if I wanted to marry a woman, I could do that at home." & yes, I explained to her that I was in fact, straight, & that the whole Massachusetts thing was because that's where the rabbi was who'd offered to marry us. I really liked her, though, & she was really into what I was doing, you know, writing a Torah, & I was all excited about the work she was doing at Yale as well...

It was a sunny, fast, wild day...

Posted by Soferet to Netivat Sofrut at 12/2/2004 01:25:30 AM



July 4th, 2003


Art Green: "Tormented Master"

1-877-742-6333 Shaarei Gan Eden

One of the ways to subdue/prevent the diluted vision of the world, the fantasy that there is no G@d, is through the hand (Hoshe'a).
You can't be a prophet if you're depressed. You need music (ru'ach = air = spirit) because instruments are full of this. Sha'ul went crazy when he came in contact with the prophetic spirit - good vibes & bad vibes - so be careful. He was troubled by an afflicted spirit - because he was a mixture of good & bad when he came into the power.
If you aren't connected with the joy of prophecy, which gives you images of G@d with inspiration from above, the only images you have to work from is the physical world around you. & you will fall into the Ko'ach HaMidameh...
Sha'ul HaMelekh had a distorted energy which repressed him which is why he was an unsuccessful prophet - his ecstasy was just madness.
You have to pull the good ru'ach out of the bad with your hand = hand on the instrument.
People who talk about joy all the time are not experiencing it (Rebbe Nachman, Ba'al Shem Tov, Kotsker...) The big difference between the Ba'al Shem & the Kotzker is that the Ba'al Shem got over his depression & the Kotsker didn't...
GO OUT & PLAY> Do something foolish. You have to have the yad (power) of intention, of consciousness, to pick out these notes, to build this joy. Anytime you locate the good point of something, you're bringing Torah into the world, because everything is Torah - all you have to do is uncover the spark = peel away the chat (distortion) of the Ko'ach HaMidameh.
Mashall = music builds simcha by connecting the good notes. Nigun. Davka through the nigun you can make yourself happy.

Singing a nigun is an inner practice by which you align yourself with G@d = only when you do it with kavanah/intention. Consciousness. Otherwise you do it on automatic & there's no Yad, no power in it. A nigun is like a homeopathic remedy - you just have to choose the right one.

Prescribe a nigun to the soul of Elisha so he can raise himself to the level of prophecy.

Choose the good notes out of the bad & make your soul rise. One can access the power of prophecy through music because it lifts the veneer of the Ko'ach HaMidameh, which damages & confuses.
Let out a spirit that does good, not one that does harm. & you must have a functioning [athiest - yikes freudian slurp] INSTRUMENT in good shape & in tune. You must know how to play so you can really produce the nigun truly. You must refine your midot to play music = so you must have made yourself into a fine, integral instrument = knowledge is not enough.
Midot = more important than mitzvot
You must have a certain degree of development in order to succeed in this.
Music has the ability to go up & go down = LIKE A SCALE = you must be able to go in both directions so you can connect yourself both from above & below.
Then it's just a matter of dosage.
Mishlei (Proverbs) 29:11 = A fool lets all his ru'ach out = expresses all his anger.
Feel your anger but express yourself in a way to keep the nigun of your life going...
When you let your anger out, you lose your connection to the spirit of nevu'ah & Olam HaBa & you forget that G@d is in the world & that G@d is a part of what's making you angry (what's happening) & you're stepping on the toes of the Sh'khinah & push Her out with the Ko'ach HaMidameh because you're not seeing that She is in everybody.

Mishlei: Who's the one who goes to heaven & then comes down..?
The magician - straighening our souls


Mayim is the heart...Shivtkhi Ka'mayim...may your heart pour out like water...the heart is encased in a kli full of water so it will be protected from the Ko'ach HaMidameh.

Yehezkel 47:3 = "You bring me across the ankle deep water" refers to Netzach & Hod of the Adam Kadmon.

Build the binyan of Simchah!

The night is the time we're closest to G@d & easiest to speak directly & find the good ru'ach

"Azamra" = teachings of the Niqudot Tovot

Keep your heart up by remembering something good every night before you go to sleep.

You can see in the presence of G@d yourself clearly & you must bring everything out of yourself & examine it & not be afraid. Overwhelming yourself is self-destructive. So concentrate onyour good points, so you can hold the prophetic vision. Remember, Zeykher Olam HaBa.

[HMDMH (pallindrome) = 5+40+4+40+5 = 94]
[94 also is the gematria of corpse/gufah, the valley of vision/gichzion, extinguish/dakh, destruction/dafi, shore/chof, window/chalon, a drop/tfh & children/yeladim]

The Prophets enable to eliminate false Emunah & remind us of Olam HaBa & teach us that true Emunah is davka in a place where the mind cannot go or know & this is straight from G@d, this power to fix Emunah.

Nevu'ah comes from a neshamah is connected to & blessed by the SOURCE so deeply that it eliminates Ko'ach HaMidameh. That's why it's so important to connect to the ru'ach nevu'ah or to a person who is connected to it, the ru'ach acheret (different spirit) so it spreads through the world. Everyone is happy & grateful for their lives & they heal from this. Speak from your heart what's in there from your level.

Imagination is not enough if you don't have Emunah.

That's why the snake influenced Adam v'Chavah.

Eretz Yisra'el is/was/will be under Hashgachah & one day the whole world will be as well. It's such a power spot. Set up a place in your heart that is Yerushalayim. Bring Sh'khinah wherever you go. One day there will be no galut (exile).



July 3rd, 2003 (would have been my parents' 38th wedding anniversary)
Rebbe Nachman says sometimes don't even start thinking.

The more Emunah (faith) you cultivate, the more Tamim (sweet) you become. The best way to serve G@d is as a Tam (sweet person) - Tamimut (sweetness) is not trying to show how much we know, how smart we are...not an adolescent show-off betraying insecurity
...G@d just wants us to show up...

In Olam HaBa, the World to Come = no difference between the knower & the knowledge & the knowing
Intellectual union with G@d
Ultimate spiritual achievement
Tachlis (basics, bottom line, end point)

Intelligibles = only exist in the mind/neuroshpere

Chabad loves RaMBaM...the metaphysics are chassidish shita of the RaMBaM with Ari added
...maskil seychel muskal
...chokhmah binah da'at

Acting with consciousness of the divine source = mitzvot = linkages between heaven & earth

Olam HaBa doesn't need intellect to come, it needs Emunah = tachlis

If you're ever so troubled by your pain that you lose sight of Olam HaBa, then close your eyes & stop talking. Look inside yourself & see Olam HaBa manifesting. Why? Because what do people do when they want to see something that's far away? They squint. This method is sufficient. This is not enlightenment but a meditative experience.

A series of existential encounters/experiences with G@d, interrupted by "real life".

Yir'ah (awe) must proceed Chokhmah (wisdom)! "Reishit Chokhmah yir'at HaSHem..." ("The Beginning of wisdom is the awe of G@d..."

Halakhic permission is how I express my YIR'AT SHAMAYIM (awe of Heaven) (-ab)!

If you don't have yir'at shamayim, I'm not sure mitzvahs are mitzvahs, because how can you connect Heaven & Earth with your actions?

Yir'ah = ultimate respect (for Heaven)
Ko'ach HaMidameh = minimal respect (for Heaven)

Groucho Marx was a closet Breslover.

The best thing to say to the Inner Chacham is, "Shut up".

We're all swimming in the same Or Ayn Sof (Light of the Eternal One) & we can't get out, so we need to recognize that we aren't really separate.

The Chakham is negative & critical & makes himself miserable (wants to be superior)
The Tam is accepting & open & is amazed & appreciative (doesn't care about being superior = very secure)

Einstein was a closet Tam. He did his science with humility.

Depression = separation from G@d

If you go with the simplicity, it doesn't mean you can't access the high achievements/actions/knowledge
Rest on the spiritual foundation & work from there.

Tortoise - - - - - - - - - - Hare
Tam Chakham
Lives deeply Good starter, but doesn't finish the race

Tachlis = Da'at = real Mensch = Emunah = Seychel

If you lose your Da'at, you drop down a level. You lose the quality of Yir'at Shamayim, of being cognizant of where you came from & what's coming. Then the Ko'ach HaMidameh rules us & the Zikhron is impaired, nofleh shi'ah = we fall into forgetfulness, spiritual sleep. It leads to Eyin Ra & Lashon HaRa.

"I am imaged through the hand of the Prophets." (Hoshe'a)

Yad = simcha
Whatever you reach out to do, do with joy.
Prophets get into a state to receive through music.
(David HaMelekh, Elisha in Kings needs a musician to hook him up)


How can you make a niggun out of what's inside of you?



Wednesday, August 25th
Our mothers are not coming :( but I guess that's what you get for only giving them 72 hours notice when they're 3,000 miles away. That's alright. Our wedding will be what it is meant to be. & that will be perfect. G@d willing.

My list of Things To Do for the day looked like this:
*Drive to Boston
*Final word from Gafni on Ketubah wording
*Appointment callback from miqveh
*buy white outfit for Joel
*preparations pre-miqveh
*write ketubah
*white grape juice (because red stains & we're getting married outside on the beach in the dark)
So, not so much to do today ;+>

Adam, in his culinary genius, made the most astoundingly tasty kosher chicken pot pie for all of us for dinner tonight. It was truly amazing & I will never forget it.

I soaked in the tub & prepared for my bridal miqveh visit to Mayyim Hayyim. Drove madly from New Haven to Boston in rush-hour traffic. Boston, being the impossible city to drive around in & reach your destination that it is (even with a map), provided me with some extremely frustrating moments. Lost AND 45 minutes late (it was quarter to 11pm) I stumbled upon the miqveh quite by chance. I ran to the door, breathless & in tears, embarrassed by my tardiness & petrified I would have to have a chupat nidah. But the miqveh attendant was still there, waiting patiently, & greeted me with a smile.

She was from Montréal originally :) her name was Miriam (very appropriate for a miqveh attendant) & she was *so* kind. She said she just had a feeling that I was actually going to show up, so she'd been waiting. How wonderful :)

This beautiful Victoria home had been converted into a double miqveh. It was very pretty & simple & unassuming on the outside, next door to a synagogue. But inside it was possibly the most spectacular miqveh I had ever seen! Not that I'm an expert on miqva'ot or anything, but I've seen a few in my time by helping with conversions, getting brides ready for their weddings & because of the work I do, I was visiting the miqveh so I could write the Sefer Torah. For some short time I was refused entry to the miqveh in Vancouver, on account that I wasn't married, but that was sorted out expediently & is a whole other story.

The interior of the miqveh at Mayyim Hayyim was truly a calm, spiritual place. It didn't convey the false preciousness of some spas, but it still made one feel in no uncertain terms that the ritual performed there was of deep importance.

& I felt 100% at ease with Miriam :) which is so important, because a miqveh lady can make all the difference between a beautiful & a traumatic experience.

But can I just tell you about the actual immersion? The water shone in different colours! Yes, I'm serious. There are lights fitted under the deck surrounding the pool (which, by the way, has warm earth tones & has a serene, simple look & feel to it) that you can't see even when you're in the water. Miriam told me I could select a steady colour if I liked, or just let them change randomly. I opted for the randomness. I mean to say, I *was* getting married, after all.

I stepped down into teal water. The water became gold. I exhaled & immersed. When I surfaced the water was red. I said the blessing for immersion & Miriam said "ameyn". The water changed to violet. I dipped. The water was emerald. I dipped. Pink. Dipped. Azure.

May G@d grant Joel & I a marriage of perpetual unity.



July 2nd, 2003
Klipot = obstacles because they cover the sweetness but necessary because they protect the essence of the creative source & the more precious & delicate the fruit the thicker the shell...

When a nigun comes to you, let it through. It can move out whatever is blocking you.

A blocker that keeps you from going through the Gate = Ko'ach HaMidameh

The only way to get to your inside, to the depths of your heart, is to break through.
(Rug/Doorway analogy)

"Hardened Heart". Our edges are firmed because of the Ko'ach HaMidameh & our perception of things from which G@d is excluded is narrower & demarqated...we must soften those edges & see the truth everywhere, not the perspectives on truth. Know that whatever truth you have, you never have ALL the truth = you can see a piece of it (Elephant blind analogy) but never the whole thing. Nobody can get enough truth. When we think our perspective on truth is the whole, universal, empirical truth, it hardens your edges = that's the Ko'ach HaMidameh!

You cannot correct someone unless you are filled with love for that person - if you can't see how to do it you have to let it go & pray for them. Otherwise you become combatants...

Truth & peace embrace at exactly the same point. Where you realize you don't really know = that's the highest truth & the deepest peace.

ANSHEI AMANAH = those fully dedicated to the avodah
(shoresh = EMeT/NE'eMan)

When we had the Temple, we had the Sh'khinah so close - it brought her so close - so we could break our hearts open. But when we lost the Beit HaMiqdash, we lost the Shamir (worm which cut the stones for the Temple) not just for *it* but for our hearts. We lost the ability to cut through the hardest hearts, the sense of the sweetness of the earth & air & water & we can't be Anshei Amanah - because we lost our power spot.

"...his family kicked him out because they didn't want an enlightened being around - they wanted a business man or something..."

When you're making a pilgrimage, there are always obstacles to overcome, & the last part you need to walk. You can't just take a train right to the place.

Paradigm shift always involves a breakage.

Now we have to do the Shamir's job on yourself = how do we make our own hearts melt & surrender? We need to consciously develop the seychel to use our inner capacity rather than rely on magic.

Bring out the sweetness of potentiality into actuality.
Soft seychel


"Honey drips from your lips" - Shir HaShirim
Is the seychel revealing itself after the heart is softened & the neshamah shines through. Use this sweetness to dissolve your self-constructed image & heal yourself. Like a frame of film caught too long over a projector lamp, it's burned away to clarity.

Forgetfulness is the death of the heart. Remember the world that is coming. There are two possibilities. Field of dreams = if you build it, they will come (another great quote by another great Canadian). Everythime the veneer of the fantasy that G@d isn't present in the world is broken through, the Ko'ach HaMidameh is weakened & we bring Olam Da'atei a little closer...

The whole world will be under Hashgahah (Divine Providence), not under Bachir (free will).

Remember what's coming is what we're hoping for. We've all seen it. Not just in our dreams but sparks of it keep appearing the more emunah we have. It grows from the holy darkness.

You shouldn't think that the world is going to always be the way it appears now, no matter how convincing that is. We're lulled into the idea that it doesn't have greater possibility & you're in danger of losing your heart & hope & remembering the Olam Da'atei.

The people holding the high madreyga are holding the zikron (remembrance) for us.

The Seder is not just bibliodrama = we have to really REMEMBER the miracles & the time(s) when G@d saved our lives miraculously - so unbelieveable that you forget it - but that is Olam Da'atei.

It may look terrible, but I am connected to the hand of G@d & I can see all the signs of the Olam Da'atei which is coming in each & every thing.

Adam Qadmon (template for the structure of the universe mirroring the human body) is everywhere so if we use the Ko'ach HaMidameh in a positive way, we'll actualize this. One continuous unity like the heavens spreading out like a curtain - no seams no end. Kavanah for talit: all things in the world hang from G@d like threads in a tapestry. ALL THREADS ARE G@D. Always adding more of the finest to create beings like us.
You are weaving Hod v'Hadar, these worlds. You are letting heaven hang down. The threads run all the way through, top to bottom, both sides - but we just can't see all of it.

You shouldn't get too involved in this world, because you think your consciousness is high enough that it won't influence you. Just take from it what you need, what is necessary. Because if you get too involved you will lose heart & stop doing your work & won't be plugged into the POWER SOURCE & then there will be no world coming.

Burnout (spiritual or otherwise) is a problem: oseh shalom bimromav...your battery will get run down if you don't recharge from G@d & peace only comes from above.

CEL PHONE ANALOGY: a powerful cel can connect everywhere, but there's not one in the world that doesn't need recharging!
: Olam HaZeh! Olam HaZeh! Olam HaZeh! (Olam HaZehnikim)
: Connexion is portable, but needs recharging
See how far you can go from the plug without recharging. If you know that the power you have came from G@d & thank G@d you did something with it & there's always more to get. Thanks, G@d, for that little bit of juice. So much more reliable than Sprint - doesn't have radiation or cause environmental damage & it doesn't matter what paradigm you're in - it still works for you.

If we lose heart, we see all things with an Ayin Ra. A negative eye will skew your perceptions of the truth that surrounds you. The critic will point out all the reasons why the vision won't happen. Everything rests on Emunah = that's Rebbe Nachman. If you look with eyes of Emunah, you can see it coming & that's not Pollyanna. You can have a dead heart or you can have faith. It's up to you.

Your heart must break open for those with a dead heart, because they don't see the threads of the tapeastry that runs through the fabric that everything hangs on. They have no sense that there is a weaver that never leaves work, constantly renewing the reality with love & skill & attention. & what Master Weaver, to create a creature that doesn't know it's part of the tapestry...

Be a Tam! Find sweetness in everything, but be careful.

When you get to the point when you don't care so much if you're right or wrong, you can get to a place where you realize whatever you think, you really can't know. There's the not knowing that is nihilism = depths of the pit
There's the not knowing that is Emunah = you cannot contain that which you seek to understand conceptually about G@d. It's about control. Start from there & you will meet it positively.
Olam Hazeh. Where peace & truth kiss.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004



July 1st, 2003 (Canada Day)

Say this brakhah when you see someone you haven't in a year:
"Barukh Atah HaShem, Eloqeynu Melekh HaOlam, Mechayey HaMeytim"
"Blessed are You, Being-ness, G@d, Ruler of time/space, who resurrects the dead"

Why does everybody have to be a teacher?
Rebbe Nachman: There's a lack of Da'at (integrative knowledge) in the world (knowledge of HaShem & ourselves) & all separate things have edges that bang into each other & the more they do that the more sensitive, the more calloused. Peace joins everything - all conflicting parties - sukat shalom/canopy of peace - includes & unifies opposition, If we want peace we need Da'at.

2 ways to leave a piece of yourself in this world:
Have children
Have students
Fill the world with Da'at consciousness & share/give with/to others.

Where did we come from & how do we stay connected to/in tune with our Source consciously?

Don't despair - lo lahitya'eysh
Just because something comes back to you that you thought you'd dealt with.
Ko'ach HaMidameh = Strength to recognize similarities
Strength to see likenesses
Strength to draw parallels
without which we would live in Olam HaTohu/the World of Chaos & be constantly bombarded with new images & experiences & nothing would make sense in random chaos.

Rebbe Nachman also says animals have a Ko'ach HaMidameh & there's no G@d, no Holy Name, no Reality if we have no Da'at.

Cannot have prophesy without healthy imagination - RaMBa"M (Maimonides/Mussa ibn Maimon)

Ko'ach HaMidameh = The world as it appears to your eyes - "The Real World" (there appears to be no G@d)
There is no seychel (correct deep perception) in this = we must bring it into each moment.
Seychel = Emunah (faith) - helps cut through the illusion (THE MATRIX! - ab)

Must keep breaking out of the Ko'ach HaMidameh - it will get you again, but on another madreygah (level of spiritual development).

Download Torah from a higher madreygah = this makes you a tzadiq/tzodeqet (spiritually evolved person)
Go back to your heart when you plateau (it goes to sleep).

You can't be a real teacher unless you speak with Yirat Shamayim (Awe of Heaven).
Who are you talking to?
If G@d wants to bring something through me, I'm so happy to share it with you.

Have compassion on people who do things that are far below them - they come from such a high place.

Pay attention = break through the Ko'ach HaMidameh, the Power of imagination, (break on through to the other side - ab) & vanquish the Yetzer HaRa.

Without SIMCHA you can't win = YOU NEED JOY TO CONNECT to G@D

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