“Hafoch ba v’hafoch ba, d’kula ba – Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it,” says the most awesomely named rabbi of Pirkei Avot, Ben Bag Bag. Of course, he’s referring to Torah – the Five Books of Moses – which represent but a sliver of the canon and library of Jewish literature. Yet despite the wealth of material available for reflection and study, every year on Simchat Torah we return back to the beginning and start all over again. The same Five Books. The same words. Again.
This afternoon Aaron and I took a walk through the historic district of Charleston. In six and a half years, we’ve covered a lot of the territory downtown. And yet every time we venture through these gorgeous streets, it seems we see something we’ve never seen before – a block we had managed to circumnavigate; a new view out over the water; a previously unnoticed garden, alleyway or piazza.
I suppose, given enough time over enough years, we could cover all of the historic terrain in our town. It’s a finite amount of real estate, coverable on foot. And not much changes – there’s an active and strong Board of Architectural Review to see to that. At the intersections of East Bay and Elliott, Tradd and Church, homes appear much as they did hundreds of years ago; some streets still “paved” with cobblestones, others only accessible by foot.
The streets we explore don’t change – but we do. And that’s the intersection where meaning truly resides.
That’s why we go back again and again and again.