Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can there be such a thing a Soferet? (Gittin 45)


I haven't blogged for a while, but I'll try to get back into it - so here's a quick post or thought.

In the Daf earlier this week it said (Gitting 45b):
דתני רב המנונא בריה דרבא מפשרוניא ס"ת תפלין ומזוזות שכתבן מין ומסור עובד כוכבים ועבד אשה וקטן וכותי וישראל מומר פסולין שנאמר (דברים יא) וקשרתם וכתבתם כל שישנו בקשירה ישנו בכתיבה וכל שאינו בקשירה אינו בכתיבה
"We learn in a Barita: Rav Huna son of Rava from Parshunia says: a Sefer Torah, Tfillin, or Mezuza written by someone who betrays fellow Jews, a non-Jew, a servant, a woman, a minor, a "kuti", or a non-believing Jew is Pasul (not Kosher), as it says (Deuteronomy 11) "And you should tie it [on you arms] ... and you should write it", this teaches that anyone who is obligated to tie [Tfillin] can write [Tfillin], and anyone who is not obligated to tie [Tfillin] can not write.

This Gmara seems pretty clear that a woman cannot write a Sefer Torah, and if she was to write a Sefer Torah the Torah would be Possul and should be put in Geniza.

Just in case you had any doubt, Rambam brings this down explicitly (Hilchot Tfillin, 1:13):
יג ספר תורה תפילין ומזוזות שכתבן מין, יישרפו. כתבן גוי, או ישראל משומד, או מוסר, או עבד, או אישה, או קטן--הרי אלו פסולין וייגנזו
Sefer Torah, Tfillin, or Mezuzot written by a heretic should be burnt. Written by a non-Jew, or Jew who betrayed other Jews, or Servant, or woman, or minor is Pasul and should be put in Geniza.
When this came up in Shiur, I was a little surprised as I definitely remembered hearing about a woman who claimed to be a Soferet - could it be that there was a woman who took the time to learn Hilchot Sofrut, but never learned that STAM that she writes is passul and should be put in Genizza.

Well, sure enough, with a little help from Google I found the worlds only Soferet:
She even has her own Wikipedia page:

What to me was strange is that she takes the time to explain that Halachic sources are pretty explicit that her STAM products are possul. She does bring down a few minority opinions who tried to reinterpret them (e.g., when it says "Sefer Torah" it doesn't mean 'Sefer Torah", when it says "Woman" it doesn't mean "Woman").
Even she seems to agree that these opinions aren't very compelling, yet she's written a Sefer Torah anyway.
The Sefer Torah is currently at Conservative Congregation called Anshei Chesed.

So I guess if you every are looking to buy a Sefer Torah, you should double-check who wrote it before carrying out the purchase, and if you ever find yourself in New York, and you want to be Yotzei Kriyat haTorah, all can suggest is avoid Anshei Chessed.
I believe that there are other congregations in New York.

PS - A post about the Soferet wouldn't be complete without a link to her Tfillin Barbie - for the Egalitarian Girl who has everything,

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