Archive for January, 2014

glass blowing

Nephesh ha-Chaim 1:15 (here the author explains why the parts of the soul are called nephesh, ruach and neshamah respectively):

One might wonder that indeed the meaning of the term ‘neshamah’ (soul) is ‘breath’ (neshimah), and it appears that man’s breath is the air that rises from the chest, from below to above… and is not a higher order phenomenon. However, the reason the soul is described as breath is not as a reference to the breath of man, but rather, as it were, the breath of G-d, as it is written, ‘He blew into his nostrils the soul of life (‘nishmath chayim’).’

Our Sages of Blessed Memory compared the imbuing of the spirit of life into man to the fashioning of a glass vessel… When one contemplates the breathing of the mouth of the artisan into the glass vessel as he fashions it, one finds the process comprised of three stages. The first stage is as the breath of air is yet in the artisan’s mouth before it enters into the hollow tube. At that stage, it can only be called ‘breath’ (neshimah). The second stage is as the air enters into the tube and proceeds as a stream. Then it is called wind (‘ruach’). The third, lowest stage is as the wind exits the tube into the glass and spreads inside it until it becomes a vessel according to the will of the glassmaker. Then he ends the flow of wind. It is then called ‘nephesh,’ a term of cessation and rest.

This comparison illustrates the matter of the three faculties of the soul which flow, so to speak, from the breath of G-d’s mouth. The faculty of the nephesh is the lowest faculty, contained entirely within the body of man. The faculty of ruach comes via a flow from above; its upper extremity is bound to and held up by the lower facet of the neshamah and flows downward, entering also into the body of man, becoming bound there with the upper facet of the nephesh.

blood

From Nephesh ha-Chayim, 1st Gate, Chapter 14:

“Action is the faculty of the Nephesh, as it is written, ‘the soul (nephesh) that will do…’ (Numbers 15:30), ‘the souls (nephashoth) that do…’ (Leviticus 18:29), as well as many similar examples, ‘for the blood is the soul (nephesh)’ (Deuteronomy 12:23), meaning that the nephesh dwells and clothes itself in the blood of man. Therefore, its primary dwelling is in the liver* which is all blood. The flow of blood through all segments of all parts of the limbs, the vessels of action, is what gives them the capacity of movement and arousal, enabling them to act and accomplish that which is within their ability. If the flow of blood to any limb would be blocked, that limb would wither, and would lack ability to move or perform any act; it would be a dead limb.”

*NOTE: No coincidence that the name of the organ that is identified as the primary dwelling of the nephesh (“spirit/life/soul”) is also called in English the liver (emphasis on “live”), i.e. organ of life (nephesh).

Kabbalistic literature sometimes reckons the soul as having three components, each “higher” than the last — nephesh (can be translated roughly as “spirit,” “soul,” or “life”), ruach (can be translated as “wind” or “spirit,” but in the context of the soul undoubtedly is more closely related to the latter), and neshamah (invariably translated as “soul”).

(Seeming similarity or redundancy in translation is due only to the deficiency of the English language to express delicate matters of the soul. Hebrew is much more naturally suited for this, therefore, in the Hebrew, each of these terms carries a nuance not expressed in the other.)

According to Kabbalistic sources, man’s faculties impact his soul, and by extension, the Universe into which the soul is tied, in the following way:

Man’s actions are tied to the area of the lowest region of the soul, called nephesh.

Man’s speech is tied to a higher region of the soul, called ruach.

Man’s thoughts are tied to the still higher region of the soul called neshamah.

These 3 faculties likewise impact the fabric of Creation in ascending order of severity, for better or for worse, depending on the positive or negative nature of the deed, word or thought.

For elaboration on this topic, see Nephesh ha-Chayim by Rabbi Chayim of Volozhin, 1st Gate, Chapter 14.

Love is best expressed by that which you do not do..

tablets

The Tetragrammaton, or Four-Letter Name of G-d, is formed by the Hebrew letters ‘Yud’-‘Heh’-‘Vav’-‘Heh.’ According to Rabbi Yeshayah Horowitz (zt”l) in his magnum opus, Sheney Luchoth ha-Berith (known by its abbreviation, the ShLa”H), this name is reflected in the shape of the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments. The letter ‘yud’ has a numerical value of 10 in Hebrew,thus the 10 Commandments represent that letter. ‘Heh’ has a numerical value of 5. The first and second ‘heh’ in G-d’s name are represented in the division of the 10 Commandments into two groups of 5 (each tablet bore 5 commandments). The numerical value of ‘vav’ is 6. The measure of each of the tablets was cubic, with a height, width and depths of 1 cubit each, a cubit measuring 6 tephachim (handbreadths). The ‘Yud’ (10)-‘Heh’ (5)-‘Vav’ (6)-‘Heh’ (5) name of G-d, then, manifested in the 10 Commandments (‘yud’), divided into 5 (‘heh’and 5 (‘heh’), framed by a cube with a measure of 6 (‘vav’). (This idea “pressed” from Sheney Luchoth ha-Berith, vol. III, Torah she-biChthav, Parashath Yithro.)

 

New York – A VIN Editorial: An Open Letter To The New York Post — VosIzNeias.com.

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 94:2: "One must bow one's head slightly so that one's eyes face downward toward the earth, and one should imagine as though one stands in the Beth ha-Mikdash (Holy Temple), and in one's heart, one should direct one's thoughts upward toward the heavens." Mishnah Berurah (ad loc): "But those that raise their heads and eyes upward as though they look upon the roof -- the angels mock them! ... One should not make any strange motions [during prayer]. In solitude one may, but not while praying in a group; particularly one should not raise one's voice or the like. ... Anyone who does not close his eyes during the Shemoneh Esreh prayer does not merit to see the Shechinah (Divine Presence) upon his soul's departure. However, this does not apply to one who prays from a sidur (prayer book) with eyes open to look inside it."

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 94:2: “One must bow one’s head slightly so that one’s eyes face downward toward the earth, and one should imagine as though one stands in the Beth ha-Mikdash (Holy Temple), and in one’s heart, one should direct one’s thoughts upward toward the heavens.”
Mishnah Berurah (ad loc): “But those that raise their heads and eyes upward as though they look upon the roof — the angels mock them! … One should not make any strange motions [during prayer]. In solitude one may, but not while praying in a group; particularly one should not raise one’s voice or the like. … Anyone who does not close his eyes during the Shemoneh Esreh prayer does not merit to see the Shechinah (Divine Presence) upon his soul’s departure. However, this does not apply to one who prays from a sidur (prayer book) with eyes open to look inside it.”