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I can not see your face on Fb

Think about this situation.

You might be having a political dialog with a good friend on a busy city avenue. As you might be speaking, a stranger faucets you on the shoulder, interrupts your dialog, weighs in on the subject, after which retains on strolling.

Weird, proper? Maybe, even, unhinged?

Welcome to Fb and different types of social media. That’s precisely what occurs. Persons are speaking, and others, despite the fact that they have no idea the interlocutors, should soar in and provides your opinion.

After which, somebody will get to trash another person’s opinion, their status, and their standing of their neighborhood.

That’s the reason I just lately demurred to touch upon a Fb web page, when somebody requested me to opine on a at the moment controversial situation within the Jewish neighborhood.

I remained silent. As a result of I’ve tried to dwell by the adage in Ecclesiastes: “There’s a time to be silent, and there’s a time to talk.” I’ve discovered, fairly adeptly, the artwork of staying silent.

I’ve tried.


True: I’ll submit my very own opinions on social media; submit my very own writings; and quote different individuals’s writings. Why, then, do I more and more refuse to have interaction in deep, political conversations on Fb? 

As a result of that is what I learn about actual conversations.

Actual conversations require a relationship. Except I actually know you — or, a minimum of, I’m starting to know you — I’ve no context for understanding what you might be saying.

After we are in a dialog of any depth, there are a lot of different “conversationalists” who’re taking part within the dialog: your previous, your background, your experiences, your individual emotional life, and the ups and downs of our personal relationship.

If I have no idea you, I can not issue these issues into our discourse — and people issues are valuable, maybe even holy.

However, greater than that: actual conversations require the face.

I’ll by no means fail in my countless fascination with the Bible with the notion of “face.” Specifically, I consider the presence of “face” within the story of Jacob, which ends with this week’s Torah portion.

  • Jacob can not see the face of the lady whom he was imagined to have married — Rachel — as a result of his father-in-law, Laban, hid her at nighttime. Jacob wound up with Leah, and should work additional time for his beloved Rachel.
  • On the eve of his reunion along with his his estranged brother, Esau, after years of mutual hostility, Jacob wrestles with a anonymous stranger, whom he believes to have been a divine being:  So Jacob named the place Peniel, which means, “I’ve seen a divine being head to head, but my life has been preserved.” (Gen.32:31)
  • When Jacob lastly meets Esau, he mentioned: “No, I pray you; should you would do me this favor, settle for from me this present; for to see your face is like seeing the face of God, and you’ve got acquired me favorably.” (Gen. 33:10)

To see the face is to have a relationship, and vice versa.

The Hebrew phrase for face is panim, which in Yiddish is punim. True: panim is within the plural type, which isn’t to say that we’re all two confronted. It’s even higher or worse than that. Every of us is a plurality of faces, and we resolve how we’re going to current our faces to the opposite, and to the world.

It is just by the face that I see something of you. It is just by the face that I settle for you because the Different, and thru your face I discover myself liable for you. Within the phrases of the French Jewish thinker Emmanuel Levinas: “The face opens the primordial discourse whose first phrase is obligation.”

(And, at a time when so many are nonetheless conducting companies on Zoom, or in-person/Zoom hybrids, we’ve got come to grasp the huge religious significance of having the ability to see the face.)

If we have already got a relationship, then we are able to have a dialog about troublesome topics on the cellphone, or by way of textual content message. Maybe.

However, particularly if we aren’t buddies — particularly if I have no idea your face in actual time — it’s troublesome to have political and moral conversations with out seeing you, individual to individual. I must see your physique language. I want to listen to your tone of voice. I must see the way you maintain your self.

I must see your face.

That’s the reason, more and more, I’m strolling away from troublesome political and spiritual conversations on Fb.

You wish to have that dialog?

Within the phrases of Proverbs: :As face solutions to face in water, so does one individual’s coronary heart to a different.” (Prov. 27:19)

Name me. If in any respect attainable, let’s do lunch.

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