hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jul. 6th, 2008 09:46 pm)
I was getting a lot of annoying hatemail, a while back, and one thing about hatemail is that it really gets old pretty fast, and I was getting a bit tired of it. So I added a paragraph to the contact bit of HaSoferet.com, thus:

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but I do expect to be treated with respect. If you hate what I do and want to let me know, fine, but please remember your manners. For example, if you wouldn't cc your email to your rabbi, you shouldn't be sending it to me. But if you really have nothing better to do, this is the rule: if you send me email which is obviously rude or abusive you are granting me full permission to publish it in any medium I see fit.

And it worked; I haven't had any really annoying hatemail since.

This pleases me.
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hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Dec. 2nd, 2007 12:06 pm)
Sometimes people say to Orthodox types, on my behalf:

What do you MEAN a woman can't be a scribe? The Talmud says women, slaves, heretics and so on can't be scribes? How can you say a woman is like a slave or a heretic? That's DISGUSTING!

To which I say:

They're right. Technical explanation ) My community chooses to say that we should view women as equal to men, and that women should have the same obligations (and hence the same ritual capabilities) as men. Non-egalitarian Orthodoxy does not.

In fact, their choosing to maintain traditional gender roles is probably more in line with existing trends in the secular world - certainly in the USA women's and men's roles are still definitely distinct; look at almost all advertising, as well as expectations re careers, childrearing, care of elderly parents, etc. When a community chooses to maintain gender roles in ritual, it is absolutely reasonable for them to maintain that women do not write sifrei Torah. Challenging this is asking them to alter something pretty fundamental to their culture and way of life - it is asking them to accept an absolutely foreign premise, rather similar to how you would feel if someone insisted you accept Christianity. They are entitled to their view, just as you and I are entitled to ours.

The best thing we can do is build a sustainable, committed Judaism which incorporates egalitarianism into the existing matrix. For that we need mutual respect, self-respect, and self-confidence. We gain authenticity not through others but through ourselves.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 25th, 2007 09:41 pm)
Verbatim:

Hi Jen,

Just got an email from a friend with 200 FWD FWD infront of it and got to
know your Barbie tefillin.

Before I knew it I ended up on your website and read about you. I think it
is a cute Barbie. Yehh it is cute.

I also am very happy that you like being a soferet.

Also I read the "Conservatives think I am an orthodox and orthodox think I
am a conservative"

Well I really think that it doesn't matter what people think. All that
matters is that what you think of yourself and how YOU talk with god when
you need him.

Beside all that I was just wondering if you really belive that a Jewish
lady needs to wear Teffilin and tzitzit?

I mean Tefillin and tzitzit are religious items that God ordered Jewish men
to wear.

If you belive in God and Judaism and you know that God didn't see the need
for a Jewish lady to wear it, why push it then?

Judaism thinks very highly of women as we can see in many parts of Talmud,
how when a man is not married to a woman his life is not in order and he
doesn't have "beracha" blessing in his house etc.

Hashem created women holy with built in understanding of spirituality

Men don't have as much of that and that is why they need to go to bet
hakeneset for every tefilah and wear tzitzit and kipah and tefilin etc to
bring them up to that level and remind them of all that.

God who created us knew the need of each one of us in order to be a better
person and ordered us certain things.

I don't know you and not sure what your philosophy is, all I know is that
you are Jewish and belive in god and that is all that matters.

I think this cute Barbie sends a wrong message to people specially to
younger or uneducated Jews.

It might look like this statue is a way of making fun of the laws of God, by
holding the torah in hand and doing all the "Do Not Do S" in it.

It was just a thought and I would be very happy to hear your point of view
on that.

Gluck to you and kol am yisraell.


I think the response goes like this:
I have found overwhelmingly that emails phrased like yours come from people who are primarily interested in describing their point of view, and who are not actually interested in hearing what I have to say. If this is not you, and you are actually interested in how I view Judaism, you may read my blog, Hatam Soferet. Please bear in mind that you are not saying anything I have not heard many, many times before. I do not find your opinions compelling, or, for that matter, interesting, which is why we will not be continuing this correspondence.
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hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 23rd, 2006 01:04 pm)
Showed it to my 8 year old daughter. She would like to know where can you buy her. She says: It's really nice and funny to see a Jewish Barbie. (As I put on tefilin it looks preety mainstream to her)

This is SO GOOD in SO MANY WAYS.
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hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 26th, 2006 04:42 pm)
I'm being honoured by Drisha at their annual fundraisers dinner - apparently they're proud of my achievements (isn't that nice?). I'm supposed to be providing some Reflections on what I'm up to at the moment, and am stuck for words. Basically what I want to express is that it's really great having this job partly because I get kicks from watching people get kicks out of Torahs, and partly because I get kicks from watching women & girls getting ideas. I'm not coming up with an elegant way of expressing this, sadly.

In other news, we spent Shabbat in New Haven, which was very lovely. I liked the town a lot (it was very Oxonian, which should come as no surprise given that that's sort of the point of Yale, but it was pleasantly reassuring), and we met some very nice people in the community. I think I'd be quite happy to live there.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2006 09:23 am)
So I wrote this huge long article about why exactly women can write sifrei Torah from a non-egalitarian halakhic perspective.* I didn't want to put it in the public domain until it'd been read by people I respect who are friendly, in case I'd made terrific clangers, since I'd rather have that pointed out by my friendly teachers than by enraged persons who want to tear me apart (I mean, anyone can pick holes in an argument, but it would just be embarrassing to have one's argument destroyed because of a clanger).

Anyway, I sent it to various people, and today I got a response from Ross Singer, he of Women and Writing the Megillah fame, who said he was impressed with the scholarship, if not entirely convinced by the conclusion. And he used various complimentary adjectives, which I won't quote here since I haven't asked him if I may, but suffice it to say my confidence was boosted.


* look at me being post-denominational. I could have just said "Orthodox." Am I good?
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 2nd, 2006 09:25 pm)
Took Ansche Chesed's megillah down to Eichlers (Judaica place) in the city, to get it spell-checked by computer. They were sufficiently impressed that I am feeling rather good. Even the ultra-Orthodox-looking chappie, whom I would have expected to be disapproving, was very nice and said I had talent.

Thence to Ansche Chesed's Hebrew school (like Sunday school, a place where kids go after school to have religion drummed into them) to talk to them about How We Make Torahs. Learning from the tefillin wrap talk, I started by rolling out a Torah and letting them all come up close and look (but no touching!). Then they started asking questions which led nicely into the show-and-tell sofrut-materials part.

The rabbi thought he'd have a little joke with the kids. I'd explained about spellchecking by computer...

Rabbi: How can we tell that all the names of God are spelled correctly even without using a computer?*

Bright Kid: Because God would smite her?

good kid!

The rabbi also said it was nice to meet a sofer with a sense of humour. Which was nice.

And my grown-up student did her whole piece bang in tune today for the first time, which is such terrific progress.

* the Megillah does not contain any of the names of God
.

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