hatam_soferet: (esther)
( Feb. 20th, 2015 02:32 pm)

Some people expressed an interest in reading this paper. Here it is:

The Variegated Career of Exodus 13:16, being a summary of the antics real and perceived of a biblical verse from antiquity until the rabbinic period

Bear in mind that it’s a term paper, not a polished publication or anything, ok? But some of the content is pretty interesting, regardless.

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.

"The Hellenistic Jewish sermons On Jonah, another fragment bearing the same name, and On Samson would be a downright sensation, had the Greek originals survived. Now they are only preserved in a 6th cent. Armenian translation which groups them among the works of Philo. This translation is so slavishly literal that it cannot be understood by readers of Armenian either, except if they guess the underlying Greek."--Folker Siegert, Early Jewish Interpretation in a Hellenistic Style, in Saebo.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Dec. 21st, 2014 11:32 am)
Well. You know how plastic christmas trees, wreaths, cakes, etc, often have white spray-paint (or sugar, in the case of cakes) sneezed over them, to make it look like a dusting of snow?

It actually looks like that for reals here today. #winterincanada. It's very beautiful, and surprisingly difficult to photograph.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2014 11:36 am)
Click image to see bigger.

My piece for Torah Stitch by Stitch, the cross-stitch Torah, illuminated in good manuscript style.

Six hares, representing the six hundred thousand Jews, meander through the wilderness. They are frequently distracted, even destructive, but on the whole they progress towards the Promised Land. In their midst is the Law, represented by an elephant. Paradoxically, God protects God's people while threatening retribution; the flowing ribbon border which appears to protect and surround the text also forms into a ravenous beast, the consuming wrath promised in the text.

For the symbolisms of Jews as hares, the Law as elephant, and the dragon-serpent in Jewish tradition, see Marc Michael Epstein's book Dreams of Subversion in Medieval Jewish Art and Literature.
AAARGGH new glasses

things are no longer fuzzy, which is good


things in glasses are closer than they appear to be

quite emphatically

such that my laptop screen is now disturbingly trapezoid

because the top edge is further away than the bottom edge, what with it being a laptop

and the new glasses rather magnify the effect

I put my old glasses back on and observed that with the old glasses it also appeared trapezoid, just less so, so this is probably Something Normal To Get Used To

but yipe

also the floor seems further away than normal

this must be what it's like being tall

it's very disorienting, especially doing stairs.
Throw a ball for the dog. Sentence in head: "Elle ratzah lakahat et ha'bal!"
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Sep. 4th, 2014 05:14 pm)
Reading Historical Perspectives : From the Hasmoneans to Bar Kokhba in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls - 1999 Goodblatt, David Pinnick, Avital Schwartz, et al.


Some of the dead sea scrolls were written on ibex!
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jul. 30th, 2014 05:41 pm)
I am a big softy sometimes, and when people don't have money, I swap them lessons for labour. Of course, there isn't much scribal labour someone in Boston or rural New Zealand can do for a soferet in Montreal, but...

...but the graphic designer is editing and formatting a textbook for me; the student who sorely needs practice deciphering Rashi script is typing up a halakhic text as she learns her way through it; the student who wants to create quizzes to test herself is using the typed-up text (and will also share the quizzes with those who come after her)...this is starting to work the way I intended it to. This is great.

I’m not going to link to the latest one, it’s just embarrassing. But.

I am the only soferet in Canada at the moment, yes, as far as I know. But only because the other Canadian sofrot are expatriate or dead. I am not proud of being the only soferet in Canada, okay? And I told him that and asked him very explicitly to mention the other Canadian sofrot. Zip.

Also, re understanding the text, yes I do understand it, as well as most Jews do. I should have said something gnomic like “No-one can fully understand the holy Torah,” but I was trying to explain that while most of the language is fairly straightforward, there are some words whose meaning is notoriously obscure and I wouldn’t claim to understand those.

And the bit about Torah-writing not being a religiously intense experience, what I said was that you can’t sustain a spiritual high for an entire year. There’s a difference. It’s not like Torah-writing is on the same level as stuffing envelopes.

Finally, baby-faced? Thumb-sucking? Thanks. I’m chubby and sometimes I bite my thumb if I’m thinking hard, yes, but apparently I’m coming over as infantile. Good to know.

I quit doing TV interviews a while back. I think I’m going to quit doing print interviews as well now.

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.

hatam_soferet: (esther)
( Jul. 13th, 2014 06:27 pm)

Rachel 1 wants a soferet to do some repair on a Torah in Boston. So Rachel 1 asks her friend Rachel 2 to ask her soferet friend Rachel 3, in LA, whether she knows anyone in Boston. Rachel 3 asks me. I introduce Rachel 3 to Rachel 4, soferet in Boston. Rachel 4 writes to Rachels 1, 2, and 3, copying me in on the conversation. “Hi, Rachel, Rachel, and Rachel…”

I try to think of a way to bring Rachel 5, the Third Soferet Rachel, into the loop, but can’t quite swing it. And there is Rachel 6, the Fourth Soferet Rachel, but she is in Brazil, which is a long way from Boston.

This is officially Getting Silly. We have three Soferet Lindas, four Soferet Rachels…

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.

hatam_soferet: (Default)
( May. 16th, 2014 02:48 pm)
I`m trying to write in Hebrew, and all I can think of is French. Yarrrg.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 23rd, 2014 07:56 pm)
There is something quasi-orgasmic about working with real gold leaf. I may be launched on a New Plane of Deliciousness.
We feed the dog on raw chicken carcass and dog biscuits.

Raw chicken bones are ok, it's just cooked bones that splinter dangerously.

I can tell you this with some certainty because every ten days or so we go down to the fancy butcher's and buy a packet of CARCASSE DE POULET. They sell it for stock or something, I guess; it's a lucky-dip bag of the bits of chickens that are left over once they've put all the AILES and POITRINES and AUTRES BITS EDIBLES into nice tidy polystyrene trays. Since a RIBCAGE ET PELVIS DE POULET is a bit too much for one little dog to have all at once, I break the carcasse up into tidy meal-sized bits and freeze them. I do this by RIPPING IT APART WITH MY BARE HANDS, it's like being in the shtetl only you don't get cholera.

So I know exactly how chicken bones go when they break, and yes, they don't splinter when they're raw. So you can feed them to the dog. Costs about the same as tinned dog food, much more fun for the dog, and RIPPING UP CARCASSES WITH YOUR BARE HANDS, what's not to love?

Tangentially, we freeze the chunks by putting them on a baking tray in the freezer, so when the in-laws visited recently we had to pretend we're actually civilised, by putting them all into an old ice-cream box and making like we don't usually have chunks of raw meat just hanging out in the bottom of the freezer. Shalom bayit, yo.

Anyway, today I went to buy a packet of CARCASSE DE POULET like usual, and the tray is pretty large, so I think "Huh, that's a pretty well-endowed chicken" while I'm plomping down my deux dollars et demi.

Once dinner is cooking, it's time to chop up the chicken. Open the packet. Observe a half-inch of fat on what may once have been the shoulders. This is odd. Chickens don't usually have that much fat on them. But okay, it's a lucky-dip, evidently we have Mutant Fatty McFatso Chicken this week (speaking as the fattest girl at my gym); what else have we? Is it a neck week? A wing week?

No. There is a Thing the size of a plum in the bottom of the tray, under an anonymous mass of skin flaps and fat. Anatomically speaking, it looks like a heart ("characteristic fat deposits!" said the boyfriend, who once quit med school), but it's effing huge. There's also a horrible smooth flappy thing, ugh, must be liver, hate the texture of liver, and again, it's gigantic, this poor bastard chicken must have had GIANT ORGANS DISEASE or something because there isn't space in a normal chicken for organs this size.

Poke the organs with a knife a bit. Observe miscellaneous arteries, oozy bits, and wobbly bits. We have not had this much entertainment since we dissected pig's trotters in GSCE Biology!

Drop the heart and half the liver in the dog's bowl and turn to tackle the huge bony thing which is the rest of the packet.

Conclude with certainty that this is no chicken, unless it is Mutant Fatty McFatso Chicken with GIANT ORGANS DISEASE and also REALLY BIG BONES. Like, it's not just fat, it's got big bones. Huge bones, speaking as someone who breaks up a chicken ribcage with her bare hands approximately every other week. And unnaturally greasy flesh. It's probably a goose really. Some sort of large waterfowl.

Okay. The dog can't have a whole goose ribcage, sternum, and shoulders for one meal. Well, she could, there was that time she stole a whole package of six chicken thighs and suffered no ill-effects other than being bloated and grouchy for a day, but we generally prefer to feed the dog in moderation. So it's time to chop it up.

Decide that this much fat is probably not good for the dog. Slice it off. Contemplate rendering it into organic goose schmaltz, very shtetl, great for making fleishig sauces, schmaltz starts off a roux beautifully (shtetl, hipster-style). Set enormous heap of fat aside.

We don't have a cleaver, and cutting bones with the good knife makes your knife-proud boyfriend very cross, so what one normally does is cut the cartilage with a knife and then break the bones at appropriate points.

Turns out a goose sternum doesn't really wanna break. Can't seem to chop the ribs off either. Also, lacking good knowledge of bird anatomy, do not really know where to find the weak parts. Chickens are basically all weak parts.

Idea: a hammer! Break the sternum!

At this point common-sense intervenes: first, wrap the thing in plastic, so that bits of goose-flesh don't go flying all over the room when you hit it with the hammer and get stuck to the light bulbs. Brilliant. Yes.

Hammer it a few times. Goose apparently impervious to being hammered. Note to self: if in combat with a goose, a hammer to the sternum will not do much.

Boyfriend decides to espouse the "if it isn't working, hit it harder" school of home improvement. Hits the carcass to no effect.

Hits it more with rapidly-increasing enthusiasm.

Carcass skitters off towards the microwave.

Tell boyfriend to quit it lest the carcass decide to take refuge in the microwave and he bash the microwave in misplaced goose-bashing frenzy. Microwave belongs to landlord.

At this point the dog has finished licking the fat off the outside of the heart, and picks it up out of her bowl. She always does this with particularly large or toothsome morsels. Takes them out of her bowl and eats them in comfort on her mat. Except that today she takes the heart to the nice beige carpet. Experience visions of her sinking her teeth into the heart and it exploding like some kind of diabolical blood-filled water balloon.

(Yes, I know the heart is not full of blood at this point, but I am bashing a goose sternum with an IKEA hammer and the dog is taking a heart onto a beige carpet; I am not fully rational.)

Chase dog back to her own piece of carpet, brandishing goose-flecked hammer.

Contemplate taking goose carcass out to street and throwing it under a bus. Surely that will break it.

Abandon this idea since the bus only comes once every half an hour.

Stare at goose carcass. Contemplate not feeding dog for three days and then giving it to her as a three-days'-food-in-one bonanza. Abandon this idea since the dog is an expert scavenger and will undoubtedly find alternative sources of nutrition.

Experience primeval beserker desire to rend goose asunder.

Invent new technique. Find squishy bit; poke knife into squishy bit until resistance is encountered; wiggle knife. Withdraw knife. Grab onto both sides of squishy bit and channel primeval beserker rage into pilates-honed trapezius muscles. Ignore hideous cracking tearing noise. Feel mightier than a whole IKEA range of Norse gods and all their hammers and mythical hexagonal wrenches as bones part.

Repeat on other side. Primeval beserker desires now in full swing. LET US REND A WHOLE FLOCK OF GOOSE STERNUMS, BITCHES. I AM THE GOOSE RENDER. SEE ME REND.

Realise that mother-in-law has filled freezer to capacity. Intermission, during which a round of three-dimensional freezer tetris is played to great effect.

Arrange TORN BLOODIED PIECES OF CARCASS neatly on baking tray, very Martha Stewart Meets Zombie Apocalypse. Wonder about filming home episode of Game of Thrones. Abandon this idea since dinner is about ready and the dog is now taking the piece of liver over to the beige carpet. Duty calls.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 14th, 2014 11:14 am)
In this time of going out from Egypt, I am happy to say that:

a) Uri David and I have decided to commit for the long term, planning a wedding in early summer 2015

b) I have been accepted to, and received funding for, a Masters degree in Jewish Studies at McGill, starting in the fall.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2014 10:19 pm)
Small but non-trivial amounts of progress have been made in various arenas.

For those who don't facebook, here is the dog having a sunbath, her first of the year:

That was a couple of days ago. Since then more snow has melted and I have heard a woodpecker. Waan is quite appalled by the number of people who have the temerity to do things like YARDWORK and WALKING IN THE ROAD; we are going to have to do some chillax-training asap because at the moment she tries to bark them all to death.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 16th, 2014 12:19 pm)
No, dog. It is -17 out and there is ten inches of snow and ice on the balcony. You do not want to go out there and sit in the sun. Trust me on this. Stay inside and sit in the sun.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 13th, 2014 11:30 am)
Very snow.
Much slip.
Many fall.
So headache.

That is to say, it snowed like crazy yesterday--and we'd just had sight of the balcony, for the first time in months, it's buried knee-deep again now--and today, despite the plough having been, the pavements are rather slippery. We didn't realise this until we were halfway to pilates, when I slipped and fell and, since I was holding UD's hand, dragged him down on top of me. He was relatively cushioned. I have a killer headache from bashing my head on ice buildup.

We're going to the vet later. We will be putting the cleats on the boots before going out again. Traction is our friend.
DOG makes distressed gruntling noises.

~Why is the dog making distressed noises? Oh, there's pasta in the kitchen, she wants it.

~No, there isn't pasta in the kitchen, there's ice-cream in the toilet.

~Why is the dog in the bathroom?

~Because there's ice-cream in the toilet.

~Why...why, yes, there is ice-cream in the toilet.

DOG attempts rescue of ice-cream

MONKEY flushes toilet.

ICE-CREAM disappears.

Sometimes I think we have a very silly household.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Feb. 22nd, 2014 09:28 pm)
French class has this activity where we plan a tourism conference and present tourist destinations in Quebec to the rest of the class. Whatever. Kind of a fun idea. It's 20% of final grade so I can't blow it off completely.

First, there's a questionnaire.

Question: Where do you think the conference should be?
Me: I think it should be in Montreal because [reasons in good French].
Teacher: Well, everyone else said Percé so you get a C+ for this assignment.

And like.

a) I don't care about grades for this class so long as I get to pass up to the next class


b) I'm not psychic and I deeply resent assignments where you get graded low for not guessing right.

The other, more disturbing thing is that our team is me (the Jewish one), the half-Native woman, and the full-Native woman. We chose the region of Quebec where full-Native woman is from, and the two Natives were psyched about talking about how you can visit the Indian reservation and stuff about its history and what have you. So they do their bits of the questionnaire as if someone were planning a visit to the region to learn about the Native things.

And the teacher rejects it, saying it's not glamorous enough, and we're not to talk about the Indian reservation at all, she wants to hear about golf courses and hotels and proper tourist things. Which boils down to "don't give me that Native shit, I want to hear about white-people things."

And like. This class unit is supposed to teach us tourism vocabulary and about the region of Quebec. And Quebec is notoriously racist as fuck, even more so than the rest of Canada which already makes a national sport of dumping on Native populations. So we got to learn that first-hand, which is a useful lesson. But it is not the lesson one expects to learn in French class.

The teacher has plausible deniability (the reservation is not glamorous! she wants to know about touristy things we learned the vocabulary for, like golf resorts!) so I am not sure it will be worth making a complaint to the department. Or that, if I did, the department would care in the slightest.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jan. 30th, 2014 06:00 pm)
Dog keeps her tummy in order by periodically eating two or three particular varieties of weeds. Said weeds are all dead right now and have been for a few months so she's out of balance.

Today she threw up a mighty amount of dog food and then pleaded to be let out on the balcony, where there is a crispy dead chrysanthemum in a pot. She nipped a few crispy dead leaves off it, but it didn't seem to be working for her.

I was super impressed that she remembered there was a plant out there. She's not been out there in months, and it's been buried under snow the whole time.

Anyway, so I offered her some mangetout, but that didn't seem to be what she wanted. Don't have anything else green except a large houseplant which I think might be toxic, and the basil; I'm going to give her some basil later.*

I'm going to go to the shop tomorrow and try to find some wheatgrass seeds or regular grass seeds and grow them indoors. Next autumn I'm going to transplant some of the weeds she likes and try to grow them indoors.

* edited to add: she browsed on the basil for a bit and seemed happy. She did not throw up after eating the basil. The basil is now rather nibbled-looking but it wasn't looking any too fine before. Her coat is a bit lank so hope the seeds grow fast and/or spring comes soon.