Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

Nefesh haChayim, by Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin זצ”ל, the principle disciple of the Vilna Gaon זצ”ל, states as follows:

Food for the body, if it is not good, and not acceptable to the body, does not sustain the body, but rather becomes waste and filth and excrement inside the body, and also weakens and tires the entire body, for because of this bad food, the energy of the spirit does not spread through the body properly, and sometimes the body becomes ill as a result. So too the actions that are not good or desirable, God forbid, become like the waste and filth of the spiritual worlds, strengthening the impure forces and kelipoth (‘coverings,’ like darkness shrouding spiritual light and goodness) — may the Merciful One save us from this.

Footnote 27 of the edition published by Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rubin ז”ל (the footnotes were written by him) adds:

Everything a man eats contains sustenance from above… Once the body is sustained by the life-giving elements of the food, the remainder which contains no sustenance at all is purged from the body. Therefore, the Generation of the Desert, who ate the manna, did not excrete any waste, for the manna could be completely metabolized with no leftover waste. But other foods, after the life-giving part is separated out to sustain the man, the waste is excreted devoid of any sustenance.

image

Another source that the son of the widow of Tzorphath was Yonah (Jonah):

Pirkey d’Rabi Eliezer 33:

Rabbi Shimon said: It is through the power of charity that the dead are destined to be resurrected. From where do we learn this? From Eliyahu (Elijah) the Tishbite who would go from mountain to mountain and from cave to cave. He went to Tzorphat and a widow received him with great honor. She was the mother of Yonah (Jonah), and from her bread and from her oil he, she and her son ate and drank… After some days, her son became sick and died… The woman said to him, ‘Did you come to me to cause my iniquity to be remembered [i.e. because I am so deficient in merit compared to you, your presence causes me to appear wicked in G-d’s eyes (based on Rashi’s comments to Kings 17:18)] so that my son should die? Rather, take what you have brought me and bring me my son!’ Eliyahu stood up and prayed before the Holy One Blessed is He and said: ‘Master of the Universe, all the evils that have passed over me and over my head are not enough, but even this woman, whom I know has spoken against me harshly out of anguish over her son. Now the generations will learn that there is resurrection of the dead! Return the life of the boy!’ [G-d] accepted his [prayer].

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.

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.”