Tuesday night, I was teaching at my scribe school, as is my wont on Tuesday nights.
Three-quarters of the room was speaking Yiddish.
Now, I posted recently about the surreal experience of being at a party of young, egal-type Jews where three-quarters of the room was speaking Yiddish. That was strange, yes. But having three-quarters of my scribe school chatting on in Yiddish, well, my brain felt as though it was being turned inside out. I think this is what cognitive dissonance feels like.
That is – if I tell you that here’s a sofer class mostly speaking Yiddish, what do you expect? I expect a lot of black clothing, a lot of peyes, a complete lack of women, a lot of right-wing Orthodoxy and a lot of nineteenth-century Europe ambience. (Yes, my YU friends, this doesn’t describe you. I know. But you know the stereotype I’m carrying in my head, don’t you.)
So here’s a sofer class mostly speaking Yiddish, but it’s taking place in a women’s yeshiva,* there’s no right-wing Orthodoxy in sight,** it’s midtown Manhattan, it’s all women,*** there are no peyes, no Yentl, but it’s certainly a sofer class, and they’re certainly speaking a lot of Yiddish, and dear goodness cognitive dissonance on a grand scale makes it hard to teach a class, you can’t say anything for gaping wordlessly as your cognitive abilities try to catch up.
Possibly a good thing. As they say, aider me zogt arois s’vort, iz men a har; dernoch iz men a nar.****
* Not on principle, more because Drisha are nice and give us a classroom.
** Also not on principle. Orthodoxim are welcome, we just don’t have any Orthodoxim this semester.
*** Also not on principle, we just don’t have any men this semester.
**** Google, and only because I don’t know enough Yiddish to come up with a proper witty punchline.
Mirrored from hasoferet.com.
A messianic soferet (who thinks the plural of “soferet” is “soferetim”).
Okay, people. This is a good example of why you need to know who your scribe was. This person’s work will probably look exactly the same as a Jew’s work. Looking at the site, you might think it was completely okay – and then you see words like “messianic,” and you start to wonder.
And yes, exactly the same principle applies for Orthodox Jews who look at my site. They might think it was completely okay, and buy from me, and that would be just as bad. This is why a) I try to make sure my clients are aware of the consequences of buying from me b) I write blog posts like this. Consumer education, it is good.
(Another warning sign, by the way, is the mezuzot on paper – selling paper mezuzot is not something done by people who care about Jews. The implausibly low prices are another red flag – if you see sta”m going for really low prices, someone’s getting screwed, and that someone is probably you.)
When buying mezuzot, or tefillin, or megillot, or sifrei torah – BE AWARE.
The sifrei kodesh are intimately connected to our communal identity. In having communal identity, we necessarily define some sorts of people as not members of our community. By their nature, we want our sifrei kodesh to be written by people inside our communities. Given any Jew, there exists a scribe who is outside that Jew’s communal boundaries; therefore that Jew could buy scrolls that aren’t kosher for her to use, and if she isn’t an informed consumer, there’s a fair chance that she will, by accident.
This example came my way because she’s female, but there have been Messianic scribes out there for simply ages (in our generation, of the Christian and Chabad varieties, but for a couple thousand years before that also). I often point to them as evidence that I, the Lady Scribe, am not the first person to make scroll-buying a dicey process for Orthodox Jews – scroll-buying, like used-car-buying or house-buying, is a dicey business, and that’s the way of the world. Be aware.
Mirrored from hasoferet.com.
MarGavriel points us to a little Agnon story. A story appropriate for the season:
|סיפר לי ר’ אהרן פריימן ז”ל משמו של ר’ אליהו פלנסר ז”ל. ר’ איציק אייכל וחבריו מצאו להם נכרית אחת שבישלה להם לתשעה באב. שבאותו הדור קשה היה ליהודי בברלין למצוא תבשיל בתשעה באב. היו קוראים לאותה נוכרית הגויה של תשעה באב.||Aaron Freiman, of blessed memory, told me the following in the name of Elijah Palnser, of blessed memory. Itzik Eichel and his friends found themselves a certain gentile woman who would cook for them on the Ninth of Av. For in those days, it was difficult for a Jew in Berlin to find food on the Ninth of Av. They used to call that gentile woman “di tishebov goyte”.|
|ערב תשעה באב באו והודיעו לר’ איציק אייכל שהגויה של תשעה באב מתה. אמר להם לחבריו, חברי בואו ואומר לכם, אי אפשר שבין היום למחר נמצא ערלית אחרת שתבשל לנו לתשעה באב, אם כן מאחר שמתה הגויה של תשעה באב נתענה בתשעה באב זה עם כל ישראל על חורבן ירושלים.||One year, on the eve of the Ninth of Av, Itzik Eichel was informed that the Tishebov Goyte had died. He said to his friends: “My friends, come and let me tell you something. Between today and tomorrow, it is not going to be possible for us to find another gentile woman who will cook for us on the Ninth of Av. Since this is so, for the Tishebov Goyte has died, let us fast on the Ninth of Av this year, and mourn, together with all Israel, over the destruction of Jerusalem.”|
תכריך של סיפורים, ע’ 159
It seems to me interesting that the non-Jewish woman is in the role of Jerusalem.
I wonder – what do you make of this? Especially those of you who have studied Agnon in college and so forth. It is so short that it cannot be so simple, it seems to me, but I do not have literary-analysis tools to explore it.
Mirrored from hasoferet.com.