faces as lenses

In Halachic Man, I'm told Rav Soloveitchik describes how the Halachic Jew sees the world through a lens of Halachah. The whole world is revealed in the light of Halachah. Every object takes on a Halachic value, something which reveals its inherent potential to be used by the Jew to serve HaShem. (I haven't read the book myself, but I find this idea beautiful, as it is a beautiful idea.)

It occurred to me that this is just one of the שבעים פנים, the seventy faces, of the Torah. There are seventy different ways in which every Jewish person can look out on the world and view every single object through that lens. In this way the whole world is rich with Torah content, this is evident from the fact that the world has no existence that is independent from the Torah. As the midrash explains, the Torah was the pattern, blueprint, and inspiration for the creation of the world and everything in it.

I came to this understanding because the vantage point from which I generally peer out upon our world is subtly different from the Halachic lens. My lens is one of the poetry of Tanach, the way that everything and every moment that will ever fall upon me have already been written into a scroll thousands of years old. The awareness that every action and every interaction are just reexpressions of things hinted at and revealed from a fire-swathed mountaintop to my ancestors thousands of years ago.

It is not a perception of the pervasive nature of Torah Law on all levels, it is the perception that every moment in my life is the equivalent of the unnecesary but thoughtful and pleasantly surprising chocolate mint on my hotel room pillow. I don't need it, I wouldn't have complained if it wasn't there, and it certainly wasn't necessary to go to so much trouble for someone so insignificant as myself, but I'm delighted to see that it's there.

That's from the Yirah side.. and from the Ahavah side, it's being the object of affection, pursued ever more brilliantly, ever more overwhelmingly until I long ago lost the ability to breath. I couldn't possibly bear the next show of affection and still continue to exist.

There's at the very least sixty-eight more where those came from, and I'm excited to explore.


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