“There are seventy faces of Torah,” the midrash says. It’s a beautiful concept, a celebration of diversity and multiple perspectives, a reminder that every text is an open book, subject to multiple human interpretations.
But people are Torahs too. We are tightly wrapped up scrolls of text, chock full of experiences, memories, scenes, narratives, ideas, beliefs, images and creations. In yoga they are called “samkaras”, thousands of imprints of experience and memory, all embedded in our consciousness, guiding us and serving as a lenses and triggers in our lives. We walk through the world interpreting and reinterpreting, trying to make sense of our pasts, constructing our futures, and trying to stay balanced and awake in the present. Each of us has seventy faces, at least. Maybe thousands, or millions, depending on how far down we are willing to dig.
Many years ago, when I was participating in a new circle of colleagues and we were asked to introduce ourselves, I stood up and counted my seventy faces. It went something like this:
I AM a woman, a Jew, a mother, a daughter-in-law, a wife, a cousin, a niece, a friend, an author, a blogger, a colleague, a researcher, a student, a teacher, a business owner, a client, a service provider, a professional, a mentor, a volunteer, a cook, a consumer, a shopper, a pedestrian, a driver, an Israeli, an American, a Barnard graduate, a PhD, a Yeshivah of Flatbush alumni, a traveler, a native English speaker, a Caucasian, an Ashkenazit, a native New Yorker, a brunette, a petite, a size 38 shoe, a pitta-vata, a Sagittarius, an otter, an extrovert, an introvert, a group facilitator, a Hebrew speaker, a home-owner, a voter, a liberal, a Zionist, a feminist, a Hebrew University graduate, a speaker, an activist, a Facebook user, a music-lover, a piano-player, a sometimes artist of sorts, a Modi’in resident, an immigrant, a free-range parent, a yogini, a meditator, an able-bodied, a swimmer, a bank-account owner, a bread addict, a tea drinker, a survivor, a former compulsive dieter, an advocate, an ally, an earner, a believer, a spiritual seeker, a night owl, a Hillary supporter, a bare-headed woman, a pants-wearing woman, a former head-covering and skirt-wearing Orthodox woman, a kosher eater, a dual citizen, an IDF parent, a peace activist, a Reiki practitioner, a book-lover, a book reviewer, a scrabble player, a puzzle enthusiast, a sleep-talker, a hoarder, a hugger, a risk-taker, a warrior, a truth-teller, a free person…..
What are your seventy faces? Feel free to share below.