Tanya lecture and video: Your road to spiritual health

Continuation of chapter 51. Previous lectures can be accessed by clicking the link below.

HaRav Shneur Zalman Miliadi

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והנה אין שינוי קבלת הכוחות והחיות שבאברי הגוף מן הנשמה מצד עצמה ומהותה, שיהיה מהותה ועצמותה מתחלק לרמ״ח חלקים שונים, מתלבשים ברמ״ח מקומות, כפי ציור חלקי מקומות אברי הגוף

Now, the variation in receiving the functional powers and life-force by the organs of the body from the soul, each organ receiving from the soul a life-force and power in a different form, does not derive from the soul’s essence and being, that we should say that its being and essence is divided into 248 different parts, which are enclothed in 248 locations, according to the design of the various locations of the body’s organs,

Were this the case, we would say that within the soul itself there are already revealed and differentiated the various functional powers — of sight, hearing, and so on — and that these 248 powers which exist within the soul are enclothed within the body’s 248 organs, each in its appropriate location. We cannot, however, accept this approach:

שלפי זה נמצא עצמותה ומהותה מצוייר בציור גשמי, ודמות ותבנית כתבנית הגוף, חס ושלום

because, according to this, it would follow that the soul’s essence and being is designed in a physical design, and a likeness and structure similar to the structure of the body, G‑d forbid. Just as the organs of the body have various shapes and forms, so, according to this outlook, are the functional powers, while still within the soul, different from each other in form. But, again, we cannot accept this:

אלא כולה עצם אחד רוחני, פשוט ומופשט מכל ציור גשמי, ומבחינת וגדר מקום ומדה וגבול גשמי

Rather is the soul entirely a single spiritual entity — it is (1) a single entity, (2) a spiritual entity. As a “single” entity, its oneness is plain and uncompounded. As a “spiritual” entity, its spirituality is in a form which is divested of any physical design, and of any type of definition of physical space, measure, or limitation,

מצד מהותה ועצמותה

The soul is free of all such dimensions by virtue of its intrinsic being and essence. In fact, the soul is so “plain” and free of all these, that even when it is actually enclothed within the organs, they cannot effect any change in the soul. Therefore, the Alter Rebbe continues:

ולא שייך במהותה ועצמותה לומר שהוא במוחין שבראש יותר מברגלים, מאחר שמהותה ועצמותה אינו בגדר ובחינת מקום וגבול גשמי

And it is not valid to say, concerning the soul’s being and essence, that it is in the brain of the head more than in the feet, since its being and essence is not subject to the concept and dimension of physical space and limitation. It is therefore impossible to attribute to the soul this limitation of being more in the head than in the feet.

רק שתרי״ג מיני כוחות וחיות כלולים בה, במהותה ועצמותה, לצאת אל הפועל והגילוי מההעלם

Rather, 613 kinds of functional powers and vital forces are included within the soul, within its being and essence, to become actualized and to emerge from this concealment and inclusion within the soul’s essence. Previously, while still included within the soul’s essence, they are only in potentia and therefore hidden within the soul — not even as functional powers which are revealed as such while still included within the soul. In other words, within the soul is concealed a potential for 613 functional powers “to become actualized and to emerge from concealment” (i.e., to become revealed):

להחיות רמ״ח אברין ושס״ה גידין שבגוף על ידי התלבשותם בנפש החיונית, שיש לה גם כן רמ״ח ושס״ה כוחות וחיות הללו

in order to animate the 248 organs and 365 blood-vessels of the body, through the functional powers of the divine soul becoming enclothed within the animating (or vital) soul, which also possesses the corresponding 248 and 365 functional powers and vital forces.

Concerning these functional powers, as they are drawn and revealed from the soul into the body, the Alter Rebbe will now explain that the principal location to which they are drawn and where they are revealed is the brain. It is from there that the potential powers spread to all other organs of the body. But the essence of the soul exists equally in the foot just as in the brain.

Till now, the Alter Rebbe has mentioned mainly the 248 organs of the body and the corresponding 248 functional powers of the soul enclothed within them. Now, however, he goes into more detail, referring to all 613 functional powers, both those of the 248 organs and those of the 365 blood-vessels, each of which has its own, unique life-force from the soul. This explains why he now refers to 613 rather than 248.

והנה על המשכת כל התרי״ג מיני כוחות וחיות מהעלם הנשמה אל הגוף להחיותו

Now, concerning the flow of all the 613 kinds of functional powers and vital forces which are drawn from the concealment of the soul, where they are previously hidden, and from where they are now drawn to the body to animate it, —

עליה אמרו שעיקר משכנה והשראתה של המשכה זו וגילוי זה, הוא כולו במוחין שבראש

concerning this flow [the Sages] have said that the principal dwelling-place and abode of this flow and revelation of the previously concealed powers and forces is entirely situated in the brains of the head.

ולכן הם מקבלים תחלה הכח והחיות הראוי להם, לפי מזגם ותכונתם, שהן חב״ד, וכח המחשבה, וכל השייך למוחין

Therefore it is they, the brains, which first receive the power and life-force appropriate to them according to their composition and character — namely, intellect which is divided into the three intellectual faculties called ChaBaD (Chochmah, Binah, Daat), and the faculty of thought, and whatever pertains to the brain. All these receive their life-force from the soul before the other parts of the body.  

ולא זו בלבד, אלא כללות כל המשכת החיות לשאר האברים גם כן כלולה ומלובשת במוחין שבראש

And not only this — that the brains receive their own life-force before the other organs — but also the overall flow of all the individual streams of vitality to the other organs, is also first included and enclothed in the brains of the head, before it becomes revealed in the individual organs,

ושם הוא עיקרה ושרשה של המשכה זו בבחינת גילוי האור והחיות של כל הנשמה כולה

and it is there, in the brain, that the core and source of the said flow exist in a form in which the light and vitality of the entire soul are revealed. In other words, when the general flow of vitality reaches the brain, then the “light” and vitality of the entire body begin to be revealed.

ומשם מתפשטת הארה לשאר כל האברים ומקבל כל אחד כח וחיות הראוי לו כפי מזגו ותכונתו: כח הראיה מתגלה בעין, וכח השמיעה באוזן, וכו׳

From there, the brain, radiance flows to all the other organs, each of which then receives the functional power and vital force appropriate to it according to its composition and character: the power of sight is revealed in the eye, the power of hearing in the ear, and so on.

In other words: At which point does a power of sight come into existence, ready to be revealed in the eye, and a power of hearing in the ear? Only after the overall life-force of the whole body is drawn into the brain in a general manner, then a “radiance” is drawn from there to each organ, a radiance which is already constituted in accordance with the particular character of the individual organ.

וכל הכוחות מתפשטים מהמוח, כנודע, כי שם הוא עיקר משכן הנשמה כולה בבחינת גילוי

But all functional powers flow from the brain, as is known,4 for there, in the brain, is located the principal dwelling-place of the entire soul, in a revealed form,

Although the soul actually exists all over the body equally, with no difference between one organ and another, yet the principal place in which the soul is revealed is in the brain.

שנגלית שם כללות החיות המתפשט ממנה. רק כוחותיה של כללות החיות מאירים ומתפשטים משם לכל אברי הגוף, כדמיון האור המתפשט ומאיר מהשמש לחדרי חדרים

since there, in the brain, the overall life-force which flows from the soul is revealed. It is only the individual faculties of the overall life-force which shine forth and radiate from there, the brain, to all the organs of the body, just as light radiates and shines from the sun into the innermost of rooms.

ואפילו הלב מקבל מהמוח, ולכן המוח שליט עליו בתולדתו, כנ״ל

(5Even the heart, which is a central organ from which all other organs receive vitality — “The heart diffuses to all organs” — receives its own vital force from the brain, which is why the brain naturally dominates the heart, as explained above.)

In ch. 12 it was explained that man is created with a natural supremacy of the brain over the heart, and the reason is explained here — because the heart, despite its centrality, must in turn receive its own vital force from the soul through the medium of the brain.

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FOOTNOTES

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4. The Rebbe notes that the Alter Rebbe goes on to use seemingly repetitive expressions, since each one refers to a different level of incorporation within the brain. This is explained in the Maamarim, Az Yashir 5670; UvaChodesh HaShevi‘i 5663; and in Hemshech Rosh HaShanah 5708, ch. 7.

5.  Parentheses are in the original text.





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