Monday, August 07, 2006

Daily Scribe

I have just joined an elite group of religous or religion-affiliated bloggers which is called The Daily Scribe (in case anyone was wondering what that flower logo on my sidebar is about). It looks like I've become controversial because many of the other bloggers are liberal-leaning and progressive in their views, while I have been described as essentially conservative. So allow myself to begin by my first post in this new field. In this post, I was welcomed as the first Orthodox Jewish blogger in the Daily Scribe. However, in the comments section of that post, someone else basically laid claim to that title. However, I ask her this, since when are Orthodox Jewish women sofrim? I don't think I'm going to be commissioning someone of your gender to write me the Parshas Ketores on a Qlaf. (Not to be sexist -- or rather genderist, if I want to use a Lashon Naki--but Safrus is not something Orthodox women do.) I got into it with my colleagues at JewSchool over a certain liberal Rabbi's position on gay marriages, which I discussed in my recently re-written essay here. I'm continuing my next essay about pre-Sinaitic Judaism which should hopefully be finished this week.


Anonymous said...

They also welcomed you on their site. See

Ilan and baby said...

Dude, she's from Portland, what do you expect?

Look, you know I love it back home, but we have some freaky jews up there. belive me, after you see the transexual jewish magazines, the jewish mediation centers and the cyto-jew shul, this is pretty tame.

The thing to remember is that if it's in portland, just smile and walk away quickly, like you do with me.

Shawn Anthony said...


Liorah-Lleucu said...

I'm sure you enjoyed stirring the pot too. Wicked. Totally wicked.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Ilan told you, didn't he? I was just so hungry, I couldn't resist it eating before 1:40pm, but I'll try to keep to my normal eating habits after today.

Liorah-Lleucu said...

Are you talking to me?

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Did you not accuse me of stirring the pot?

Liorah-Lleucu said...

Let's be precise here - I think you meant - didn't I observe that you enjoyed stirring the pot. LOL.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...


Ilan said...

Reb chaim! See, every time you get into the pot, you get all crazy. Just say NO.

Wally said...

Ya, every time Reb Chaim "stirs the pot" he posts these wacky blogs. He's actully a twelve year old catholic school girl in muckwater ablabam, is'nt that right "mary"?!?!?!?

cipher said...

Dude, she's from Portland, what do you expect?

Aviel is not from Portland, she is from the Vancouver area.

since when are Orthodox Jewish women sofrim?

She was, in fact, trained by an Orthodox sofer. He was of the opinion that the tradition doesn't forbid it. I have met Aviel, and she is a fascinating person. She's remarkably talented (I have seen her work), profoundly dedicated, and extremely knowledgeable not merely about the technical aspects of the craft, but about peripheral subjects, such as the kabbalistic significance of the letters and so forth.

Reb Chaim, it’s your first day in a new place; you have to begin by denigrating one of your fellow inhabitants?

Shawn Anthony said...

Ciper wrote, "Reb Chaim, it’s your first day in a new place; you have to begin by denigrating one of your fellow inhabitants?"

I sincerely hope not. I've been reading Aviel's work and find her to be incredibly dedicated to her work and faith. Beyond even those she is a wonderful human being.

We do not have to agree to appreciate one another.

Anonymous said...

"Aviel is not from Portland, she is from the Vancouver area."

Vancouver is portland Jr.

"Reb Chaim, it’s your first day in a new place; you have to begin by denigrating one of your fellow inhabitants?"

What I respect about Reb Chaim is that he defends Torah True Judaism. While Im sure he wishs nobody any harm, im also sure he won't let a false belife pass as Torah true.

"but about peripheral subjects, such as the kabbalistic significance of the letters and so forth."

She's a kabbalist too? Skilled lady. And yet her semenary kicked her out. I wonder why?

"and find her to be incredibly dedicated to her work and faith. Beyond even those she is a wonderful human being."

Im sure she is a wondeful kind person. But the fact is, she's still not a sofer. Im a nice enough guy, but I can't get reb chaim here to call me the queen of denmark. Many secular jews are nice. However, the bigger issue is that she is pretending to be frum. thats dangerous.

"We do not have to agree to appreciate one another."

No, but we don't have to appreciate one another in the first place. I find her site to leave much to be desiered.

"She was, in fact, trained by an Orthodox sofer. He was of the opinion that the tradition doesn't forbid it."

Ah yes, this rabbi who will not be named. Who is this mystery rabbi. Is he real? Is he really frum? Is he accpeted by mainstream orthodx, or is he a nut on the fringes. It's the nice thing about anonymous, no one can ever aruge with you to your face.

I wonder about this lady. Where does she go to shul? What sem. did she end up atteneding? so many question to be asked........

Wally said...

Ah. but Reb chaim, explain why a woman can't be a sofer. enlighten us with your keen insite. If anyone can explain the halacha, it's you old chum.

Soferet said...


Hi & thanks for all the very kind things you say about me, Shawn & Cipher.
Some clarification, folks:

This is a list of women who worked in sofrut throughout our history. Some of the information I've come across is anecdotal & some is a matter of historical record. I wouldn't call them "Orthodox" per se, as I'm not a revisionist, but I'll say that none of these women belonged to a non-Halakhic movement.

Although I do learn & teach midrash & some Kabbalah on the otiyot, I don't claim to be "a Kabbalist".

Of the 4 seminaries I learned in, one told me that if I did not reveal the name, address & phone number of my sofer & tell them what his car looked like, I would have to leave the yeshivah. So I left.

I was trained by 2 sofrim, one was R' Dov Laimon (a Bostoner Chasid) & the other is Centrist Orthodox who learned his craft in Me'a Shearim & wishes to remain out of the spotlight until further notice.

My rabbi is R' Ross Singer, who is responsible for the tshuvah showing that it is the majority opinion that women can write Megilot Esther & that men who leyn from it or hear the leyning from it have fulfilled their obligation on Purim.

I attend Orthodox shul. My committment is to normative Orthodox Jewish practice, which I carry into my sofrut. I could go on, however, all the questions I see asked here can be answered by visiting my blog, so I invite you to do so.

I may visit this blog off & on, but I don't plan to follow up on this thread, so if you'd like to engage in respectful discussion, we can do that either on e-mail or at my blog.

Brakhhot to you all.

Ilan the "portlander rebbe." said...

As a point of interst, lets look at the rabbis she allies herself with. After all, if these are well repected rabbis who's voices are important in the frum world, it will lend support to what she says.

1)Rabbi Ross Singer

Congregation Shaarey Tefilah, which operates under the Traditional movement, was formed 12 years ago and has grown in no small part due to the leadership of Rabbi Singer.

Traditonal is not Orthodox. Tradtional is conservative with orthodx trappings.

Althoguh he had an orthodox semicha, it should be noted that he got it later in life, and his orginal was not accpeted by most people.

"His first semichah was from the Institute for Traditional Judaism (also known as Metivta).

I wanted to go to a place that was intellectually open and as apolitical as possible," Singer said of his choice to study at Metivta"

This is well an good if he supports her, but what does it say when even he does'nt agree with what she is doing. According to him:

"I have not found within our traditional legal sources sufficient grounds to validate women writing Torah," says Rabbi Ross Singer of Vancouver's Shaarey Tefilah synagogue. He has spent more than a year studying this matter and consulting renowned Torah scholars."

in fact his ownly support of her is wrting for EDUCATIONAL purposes.

It would appera then, that her own rabbi does not agree with her.

Now, let's look at Rabbi Dov Laimon

He is appernlty most famouse as the Director and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Pardes insitute. this is important because Pardes is the bastion of convertive yeshivahs in Israel. While nto offically allighned with the movement, the school is seen as such by almost everyone, and it is certianlly not orthodx by defination except their own. From their own website:

"Will Pardes count as my mechina (preparatory) year for JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary)? (main consertive school in the world)

A student who takes Pardes seriously will arrive at JTS extremely well prepared. Contact us for more information and for the names of JTS students"

In terms of a pulpit rabbi, his shul, with kosher "was known for Jewish inclusiveness, feminism.... " It would seem that he has an apprent baise from the onset.

Althoguh you refer to him as a Bostoner Chasidic Rabbi, his biographie does not list him as such. certianlly anyone who knows about the Bostoner Chassidim would know that this is something the rebbe would never apporive of. I would like to know what the rebbe felt about Rabbi Dov, and whether he apporves of what you are doing. After all, if a a tamid acts agaist the orders of his rebbe, he cannot really be called a rebbe's chassid.

So it would seem that the "sofer's" credentials are indeed highly suspect. We have a thrid mystery rabbi, but without knowing who it is, we have no way to know for sure if he is valid, or even if he is real. For whatever Aveils' ideas are, she cannot in any honesty say that she has the backing of halachic masters. Moreover, she has yet to produce any truth to her statments to verfiy their truth. This leads to her whole postion being left highly suspect.

Ilan "the portlander Rebbe" said...

addintinally, what were these four yesviahs you went? I would be intersted in talking to them and hearing thier feelings on what you are doing. I am reminded of an old college professer of mine at the UJ. Althoght not frum, he became a Bal tesvuah of sorts and went to Satmar yeshiah. After a month, he was caught in a sorid sex scandel involving bringing gentile women into the school and was thrown out. Yet on his resume, it's listed that he is educated in a top chassdic yesviah.

cipher said...

You know, none of this is really relevant. Simple derech eretz would dictate that you don't begin your stay in someone else's home by demeaning one of your host's other guests.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Actually, see this where I am told to act at home. Plus I'm just calling a spade a spade. She is obviously not Orthodox even if she calls herself so. No Orthodox Jew beleives in the validity of a Torah scroll written by a female (or child or non-Jew for that matter). She is not Orthodox despite what she calls herself.

Shawn Anthony said...

Your personal and caustic attacks of others to perpetuate and substantiate your points are not only boring, but also seriously distracting. It is counterproductive. You are capable of solid writing! You articulate your personal faith and traditions so well through that medium. Why can't you continue to do so without spiraling downward into personal attacks? You don't like something another is doing with their tradition? Fine! That's OK! Write about why you think it is wrong or in error, but leave names and personal attacks out. It's distracting!

PS> My invitation for you to make yourself at home does not included the "freedom" to attack others who were given the same invitation. I'm sure our leadership board would quickly agree.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

I do not beleive that I have personally attacked anybody on this blog. I am merely stating that she misrepresents what she claims to represent because there is no justification for what she does in Jewish law. If she admitted that she was actually Reform, Conservative, or a follower of the Jewish Renewal Movement, then it would explain why she is a scribe even though it is halachikally impossible because those groups do not feel that they are bound to halacha. But once she claims to be Orthodox then she is in essence claiming to follow halacha, and there is no halachik authority which allows for her actions. I'm done with her. I'm going to concentrate on more important things instead of bashing other people. If you carefully read the comments, I did not say anything about the female Sofer until my previous comment. My post merely posed a question. It was all the other people in the comments who decided to jump on her. She was not the focus of the post and was not meant to be.

Shawn Anthony said...

I hear you R'Chaim. I'm just getting email about it too. I deeply appreciate your gifted ability to write and represent your faith. I just hate to see that ability and the fruit of that get lost in this exchange .. which has now gone on for about a week. I think it is unfortunate. You could still address this issue, but leave the names and pointed charges out of it. I suggest this for your benefit too. Your message is much clearer when not strapped to these sorts of limited exchanges. Keep up the good work.

Shawn Anthony said...

Also, you are correct. Most of the "attacks" did come from your comments section (readers). There is not much that can be done about it. Readers comment to express opinions. Expressing opinions is what this medium is about.

Hmmm .. So, I'd simply suggest that you and those involved work it out. Opinions are healthy. That's why we blog. That's why people comemnt.

I am not at all trying to give you are hard time R'Chaim. I have no problem with you or your beliefs. :)

steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


Can't even tell the difference between R' Dov Laimon and R' Daniel Landes, and you dare try to disprove her halakhic logic with nothing but ad-hominem attacks?

Ask any Conservative Jew who went to Pardes, btw, and they'll tell you it's Orthodox. It's quite a pet peeve among some of them, they don't think it's pluralistic enough.

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