70 FACES OF TORAH

The Chazal (Jewish Sages) said there are 70 Faces of Torah — שִׁבְעִים פָּנִים לַתוֹרָה — Shivim Panim l’Torah. This means that each word, chapter and verse can be interpreted in multiple ways. There are 79,847 words and 304,805 letters in a Torah scroll (Sefer Torah) and each can be interpreted in any number of individual ways.

“Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it.” Avot 5:22, Rabbi ben Bag-Bag.

The number 70 in the context of Judaism is not an exact count, the sages used it to describe a large number or large amount.

The Talmudic commentators were not of one mind or consensus. They held differing opinions and offered differing interpretations. Some people are confused about which interpretation is “correct.” In Jewish thought, all interpretations of Torah, both modern and classic, are considered to be correct and valid, as long as they are Jewish in context.

In the Jewish tradition every Jew is welcome to give a d’var Torah (a personal interpretation of a parsha). A d’var Torah is given by a congregant or community member on Shabbat and at many other Jewish functions, learning venues and events.

Each d’var Torah or drasha (personal exegesis) is a face of the Torah that is valuable, necessary and essential. Each has something to offer to any number of individuals that needed to hear exactly what you had to bring to the table. The many faces of the Torah are personal and subjective. We are to place ourselves in the stories and let it speak through our d’var.

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