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 GD will be relayed to the people in 70 different languages,’ corresponding with the 70 Faces Of Torah.
The rabbis used 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 physical and emotional 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 the 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 — meaning “hear, internalize, understand.” The word Shema appears in Devarim/Deuteronomy nearly 100 times. Active listening is at the heart of Judaism.
GD is in the eyes of the beholder and everyone can commune with GD in a way that is meaningful and comforting to them.
I love the pluralism of Rabbi Yochanan’s teaching, yet I was bothered by the word “strength” in the verse, “The voice of Gd is in strength” (koach).” (Psalms 29:4 קול יהוה בכח)
As a person with health challenges, I don’t always feel strong, physically or emotionally. 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” (koach) as inclusive, until I remembered the mystical meanings of the word.
The Zohar describes koach as “the potential of what is” and “the potential to be.”
In Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), strength is Gevurah and Gevurah equates to capacity and boundaries. Sefirah Chesed (loving-kindness), Sefirah Din (judgement) and Sefirah Gevurah work together to create a balance. Chesed draws close, while Gevurah and Sefirah Din (judgement) dispel that which is toxic for us in mind, body and spirit.
Gevurah is the fifth Sefirah (Divine emanation) on the Etz Chayim (Tree of Life).
Gevurah provides the power of discernment. When we are pressured to ‘hear’ GD on someone else’s terms, it’s alienating. It doesn’t resonate.
Perhaps more importantly, there are 72 Hebrew names for GD in Judaism, each denoting a different meaning…feminine, masculine, flowing, nourishing, peaceful, compassionate, healing, merciful, infinite, the place wherever you are on your journey.
Some commune with GD by being religiously observant, while others find their own happy medium and their own path.
The Hebrew name for GD/Divinity in Kabblah is Ein Sof, which literally means Without End. The way GD is heard and intuited cannot be boxed in — the permutations are endless and infinite.
We each perceive the Divine in our own way and at our own capacity. We each have a pathway to GD (or Divinity) that is safe space for us.
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(GD is my version of the hyphenated G-d that is commonly used when writing)