Monthly Archives: January 2010

Holocaust Torah scrolls, and judging favourably

Hatam Soferet’s inbox today twinkled with forwards of this Washington Post article. Basically, there’s a guy, R’ Youlus, whose shtick is rescuing sifrei Torah from Nazi-stricken Europe – removing them, restoring them to usable condition, and rehousing them in America. (As someone with a personal interest in resurgent European Jewry I have my reservations regarding […]


A bit of boundary-setting

Generally I like when people share stuff with me. “Have you seen this?” they say, and usually I haven’t and it’s interesting. Thanks, sharers – keep it coming, I much appreciate your thoughtfulness. Sometimes, though, people share jokes, and I’m observing a trend – when total strangers share jokes (sometimes by internet, sometimes by phone), […]


Atheists daven too…

The Forward’s got an article this week about an atheist siddur. My knee-jerk reaction to that is “eww, what?!” but I know myself for a liturgical conservative, so when the nice Forward people asked for an illustration, I got out my special Mental Crowbar I use for inducing open-mindedness, and came up with the piece […]


the pleasingness of knowing sources

Two friends at Yeshivat Hadar are learning about tzitzit, specifically the extent to which women are permitted* to engage in the mitzvah. One of them comes over to me: “We’re learning about women and tzitzit, and whether women are allowed to make tzitzit, and there’s a famous Tosafot, maybe in Gittin, that talks about that…?” […]


Stretchy letters in print

We talk about stretchy letters in Torah, now and again. Here’s a post about stretchy letters in print. You know this icon. In the universal language of word processors it means “right-aligned text.” Lines run level down the right side of the page; if a line doesn’t fit perfectly, there’ll be a little bit of […]


Proofreading, part 30

The very observant will note that this series has talked a lot about letters, but really not about layout at all. The reason for this is that while letter forms are relatively inflexible and easy to get wrong, layout is relatively very flexible and (these days) pretty hard to screw up, so it’s not part […]


Proofreading, part 29

I summarised my attitude towards women writing Torahs by saying that the full citizen, the adult male in good standing, may participate in the transmission of the community’s symbolic centre, and the adjunct classes of women, children, and slaves, may not; today, it is a matter of principle that women not be an adjunct class […]


Proofreading, part 28

Most readers here, I imagine, live in countries where rights and responsibilities in the social plane are officially not apportioned with reference to gender. Broadly, this is because it is a matter of principle that women and men function as equal members of society. How well this actually plays out in practice is another matter, […]


Proofreading, part 27

Of course, people say “um, no actually” to me, being female. It wasn’t the handless guy’s fault he had no hands, it’s not my fault I’m female. He just didn’t have the physical makeup to write a valid Torah and that was too bad; I don’t have the physical makeup to write a valid Torah […]


Proofreading, part 26

Backtracking a bit to the experience of writing. I talked about producing letters as not necessarily being writing. Specifically, embossing (the process of creating a shape by pressing up from the other side) isn’t really writing. We might say: ah, but Braille is created by embossing, and today there are lots of people for whom […]