Tags: uhc

shiny jen

a bit of clarification

The JPost article contains this piece:

The Talmud places women among a list of people - including informers, slaves and star-worshipers - considered unfit to write a Torah scroll.

The reasoning is the halachic principle that one who is not directed to perform a commandment cannot significantly help others perform that commandment. Since women are not obligated to put on tefillin, they are forbidden to write the passages placed inside tefillin, for example.

But Friedman found her own way out of that halachic problem: five years ago, she began to put on tefillin.

This is absolutely not how it works. I didn't start laying tefillin so as to become a soferet, and there's an awful lot more to it than just deciding to put on tefillin. So for all those people who are saying "that's bullshit" - yes, you're right, it's bullshit. I can't help it if the JPost missed the point.

When I was trying to explain the issues, I thought the article would probably get it wrong, because it's a lot more complicated than that. And it did. Oh well.
shiny jen

I did it! I wrote a Torah.



I've written a whole Torah.*

Owing to logistics, the last few words I wrote today were these:

לא בשמים הוא לאמר מי יעלה לנו השמימה ויקחה לנו וישמענו אתה ונעשנה ולא מעבר לים הוא לאמר מי יעבר לנו אל עבר הים ויקחה לנו

That is: It is not in the heavens, so that you should say, Who will ascend to the heavens and fetch it for us, so that we can hear and act upon it? And it is not over the sea, so that you should say, Who will cross for us to the land beyond and fetch it for us...

I think that's a beautiful way to end a process which gets one about as close to the Torah as it's possible to get. And I didn't even plan it that way!

* well, 99.99% because of the 12 words I'm saving for the siyum, but you're allowed to round up when it's that small.
shiny jen

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Isn't that a lovely big number? At this rate I'll be finished before Shabbat. Hurrah!
shiny jen

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95.3%, and a huge roll has tootled off to the computer-checking people in Brooklyn. Totally home stretch!
shiny jen

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Whoo, sofer's cramp! I'm keeping a stiff pace of one-and-a-half columns per day now, and it's hard going. Didn't finish today's quota until 10.20 this evening, and my hand is protesting. I'm feeding it cake and ice-cream - well, what else can one do?
shiny jen

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The Torah is at...


When the book of Deuteronomy's served up in portions week by week, one doesn't realise just how repetitive it is, but when you write it day in, day out, my goodness. The beginning sections basically go: "This is the land, these are the mitzvot. The mitzvot God told me and I told you. And this is the lovely land. To which God brought you from Egypt. Do the mitzvot. Don't screw up. If you screw up God's going to make the land be nasty to you. This lovely land. And all these lovely mitzvot." Over and over again.

This makes sense in a strictly human perspective, because this book is Moses' final words to the Israelites. He's had a rotten time bringing them through the desert, and he's not even going to get to go into the land after forty years wandering about taking flak from the Israelites. He's old, he's worn-out, he's grumpy, so it's fair enough that he rambles on and repeats himself really, is it? I wouldn't be surprised if Joshua the son of Nun stopped him on his way out of the tent that morning and was all: Moses, you need to change out of your slippers before you go out on the mountain, and have you had your pills?

Then Moses would crack him one with his staff and mumble something about cheeky youngsters.
shiny jen

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Note: I have edited this post to remove references to a specific organisation. This is because I had a nice conversation with them. I am going to leave the meat of the post up here, because the substance of it is still out there and still relevant.

More and more, recently, I run into things like this:

A Sefer Torah, by definition, is a Torah scribed by someone who has been certified to do this work. Certification is not unlike an ordination of a rabbi or designation of a doctoral degree; the authority is confirmed by one who also has the authority. Generally, certification allows the individual to scribe, within the context of Jewish law or halachah, Sifrei Torah, tefillin and mezuzot (the three ritual objects that contain Torah texts).

This makes me cross, because it is not true, and it is deceiving people. Scribal certification is not like rabbinic ordination. It is much more like kashrut certification. Rabbinic ordination is what makes a rabbi, undoubtedly. But scribal certification is not what makes a scribe. R' Askotzky in his book Tefillin and Mezuzos says quite clearly that one does not have to be certified to be a scribe,* and he probably ought to know, given his list of qualifications.

Kashrut certification indicates that you can trust that the chef's work is kosher. Scribal certification indicates that you can trust that the scribe's work is kosher. That is all.

The other reason it makes me cross is because some people are using this falsehood to discredit UHC's Torah Project, written by me. So, if you hear that: think twice, for my sake.

* And that if someone is not certified you should ask why, which is a jolly good idea.