|hatam_soferet (hatam_soferet) wrote,|
@ 2009-11-08 10:47 am UTC
|Entry tags:||press, soferet, sofrot|
Her primary teacher is Jen Taylor Friedman, a New Yorker born in Britain who is just 30 but among the very few women to have completed an entire Torah. According to Ms. Wolf, she may indeed be the only one who has ever done so.
"I’ve never seen a source that says otherwise," Ms. Friedman said in a telephone interview. "But 'ever' is a big word, and Judaism has been around for a long time."
As ever, I would be charmed to see a source which says otherwise. There's bound to be one somewhere. We know we've had female copyists, general non-ritual scribes, and I've had one source sent me which speaks of a woman who wrote a chumash; it is possible to interpret that as "a sefer Torah for ritual use," but yeshiva-educated scholarly-rabbi friend RHCY says it means a regular book-type chumash, and he generally knows what he's talking about. We know women have worked on repairing Torahs, both many generations ago and within the past twenty years. Writing? Don't know.
A Torah's a big, expensive thing, right? Before the late twentieth century, if you were somehow in the Torah trade - married to a sofer, or something - and you somehow got the skills and materials and free time and you wrote a Torah, you weren't going to tell everyone about it! because then your Torah would have no market value. Scribes have never earned much; you can't afford to throw away a whole Torah like that. You're going to pass it off as your husband's and you're going to sell it.
Of course that isn't very proper, because technically it wouldn't be fit for ritual use, pre-gender-egalitarian congregations - that's why it has no market value - call it economic necessity, call it feminism, call it what you will, Judaism is a religion of human beings, not of saints. Of course it's happened. It'd be pretty darned remarkable if, in the whole of Jewish history, no woman had ever written a Torah. If nothing else, that would mean that I, me, Jen, possess some quality that no other Jewish woman has ever had, and that's preposterous.
What I have is the luck to live in a generation where I could write a Torah openly, as part of a community that was happy and excited about that. That's what's unusual about this generation of female scribes. Not that we write Torah, but that we're part of a world that can accept that.
This perspective rarely comes across in articles, you understand. Journalism doesn't really do in-depth explanations of subtle points that detract from the thrust of the story. For practical purposes, the simplified version does the job - conveys what is exciting without needing lots of feminist-historical consciousness.
This is why Julie's Torah project is arguably more exciting than mine. We've got the whole "gosh look a vagina wrote a torah" thing out of the way, and we can get on with the important thing, which is "gosh look, a Torah."