The Talmudic Sages said that “There are 70 Faces Of Torah” שבעים פנים לתורה — Shiv’im Panim L’Torah. (Bamidbar Rabbah 13:15-16).
In Psalms 29:4 it is stated “the voice of GD is in strength.” קול יהוה בכח
Rabbi Yochanan said, “The voice of GOD will be relayed to the people in 70 different languages.” We can see how that corresponds to the 70 Faces Of Torah.
In Judaism the number 70 refers to a large number or large amount. It’s not an exact count.
Rabbi Yochanan (180–279 CE) tells us that the voice of the Divine is not only different for each person, but different at each stage of our lives. The elders, the infants, the young adults, the mothers, the pregnant women will each hear the voice of the Divine according to their strength. [Midrash Exodus Rabbah 5:9]
An elder with ample lived experience will hear the voice of GD differently than a young person or younger adult. A baby will perceive the Divine at a primal level, free from the baggage of adulthood. A pregnant woman will hear GD differently than a woman who isn’t pregnant. The physiological and psychological changes of pregnancy will evoke a different perception of the Divine.
The way you ‘hear’ GD in health, will probably be different than the way you ‘hear’ GD during losses of health.
It is said that each of the Israelites at Mt Sinai (including matriarchs, patriarchs, prophets and prophetesses) heard the voice of GD in their own way.
The Holy One appeared to them with faces on every side, so that though one thousand people might be looking upon the Divine, they would believe that the Divine One was looking at each of them. So too, when the Holy One spoke, each and every person could believe, “The Divine word is speaking to me.”Rabbi Levi Yitzchok (1740–1809)
The most pivotal prayer in Judaism begins with Shema (hear, internalize, understand). The word Shema appears in Devarim/Deuteronomy nearly 100 times. Active listening is the heart of Judaism.
The takeaway: GD is in the eyes of the beholder and everyone can commune with GD (or their concept of Divinity) in a way that is meaningful and comforting to them.
I love the pluralism of Rabbi Yochanan’s teaching, yet the word “strength” in the verse, “The voice of GD is in strength.” (Psalms 29:4 קול יהוה בכח), bothered me.
What if I don’t feel strong? What if I don’t feel I have any strength left in me? Does that mean I won’t be able to hear the voice of Divinity? We all have times when our strength ebbs or is at an all time low.
I didn’t see the word “strength” as inclusive, so I went deeper into the meaning of the word. In Kabbalah, strength is Gevurah and Gevurah equates to capacity.
Gevurah is the fifth Sefirah (Divine emanation) on the Etz Chayim (Tree of Life).
Gevurah is strength imbued with middat hadin — the attribute of judgment.
Gevurah provides the power and discernment to ‘customize’ the Divine Light, so that each person can receive the voice of the Divine according to their own capacity. When we are pressured to ‘hear’ GD on someone else’s terms, we feel dispirited and overwhelmed.
Another word for Strength or Power in Hebrew is Koach. The Zohar describes Koach as “the potential of what is” and “the potential to be,” which aligns with the meaning of Ku in Zen Buddhism.
Maybe you need to hear GD speak to you in a masculine voice; whereas someone else needs a feminine voice. Maybe you need to hear GD as large and in charge; whereas someone else needs a soft and nurturing voice.
Maybe you have a gallon capacity for GD; whereas someone else has a pint capacity.
The name for GD/Divinity in Kabblah is Ein Sof, which means Without End. So too are the ways in which Divinity is ‘heard’ and intuited.
We each perceive the Divine in our own way — each according to their capacity; each according to their need. When we honor our capacity, we find a pathway to Divinity that is safe space for us.
This post is the followup to Prayer From The Heart
©️2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED