You Shall Afflict Your Souls (Parsha Emor)

This coming week’s Torah parsha is Emor (Lev. 21:1-24:23). Included in this week’s reading are the commandments concerning Yom Kippur:

[26] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
[27] Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
[28] And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
[29] For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
[30] And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
[31] Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
[32] It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
(Lev. 23:26-32 KJV)

This includes the commandment to “afflict your souls” (Lev. 23:27, 32).

The expression “to afflict your souls” in Hebrew is a euphemism meaning “to fast” (Tzom). The Hebrew phrase ‘INuI NeFeSH is translated as “afflicting the soul”. It also appears in a number of Scriptural passages, in which it is clear that this expression refers to fasting:

“…I afflicted (KJV: “humbled”) my soul with fasting;
and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.”
(Psalms 35:13)

“…I wept, and afflicted (KJV: “chastened”) my soul with fasting,
that was to my reproach.”
(Psalms 69:11)

“Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and you see not?
wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and you take no notice?…”
(Isaiah 58:3; see also vv.5 & 10)

This is because the word “Soul” Means “appetite”

It should be pointed out that one of the meanings of the word “NeFeSH”, commonly translated as “soul”, is in fact “appetite”. For example:

“And put a knife to your throat,
if you be a man given to appetite (NeFeSH).”
(Proverbs 23:2-3)

” For he satisfies the longing soul (NeFeSH),
and fills the hungry soul (NeFeSH) with goodness.”
(Psalms 107:9)

“The full soul (NeFeSH) loathes a honeycomb;
but to the hungry soul (NeFeSH) every bitter thing is sweet.”
(Proverbs 27:7)

“Yea, they are greedy dogs
which can never satisfy their souls (NeFeSH) (KJV: “have enough”)”
(Isaiah 56,11)

Philo of Alexandria said concerning the reasons for Yom Kippur:

The first reason is the temperance which the lawgiver is continually exhorting men to display at all times, both in their language and in their appetites, both in and below the belly. And he most especially enjoins them to display it now, when he devotes a day to the particular observances of it. For when a person has once learnt to be indifferent to meat and drink, those very necessary things, what can there be of things which are superfluous that he would find any difficulty in disregarding?
(Special Laws II, 195)

The Fast of Yom Kippur helps to teach us the virtue of self-control and this trains us to make our rational mind master over our desires and appetites.

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Justice and the Corners of the Field (Parsha K’doshim)

This week’s Torah parsha is K’doshim (Lev. 19:1=20:27). Included in this week’s reading is the commandment against gleaning the corners of a field:

[9] And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
[10] And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
(Lev. 19:9-10 KJV)

The author of 4th Maccabees (On the Supremacy of Reason) uses this commandment as an example of how the Torah teaches us the virtue of justice:

[1] The subject that I am about to discuss is most philosophical, that is, whether devout reason is sovereign over the emotions. So it is right for me to advise you to pay earnest attention to philosophy.
[2] For the subject is essential to everyone who is seeking knowledge, and in addition it includes the praise of the highest virtue — I mean, of course, rational judgment.
[3] If, then, it is evident that reason rules over those emotions that hinder self-control, namely, gluttony and lust,
[4] it is also clear that it masters the emotions that hinder one from justice, such as malice, and those that stand in the way of courage, namely anger, fear, and pain.
[5] Some might perhaps ask, “If reason rules the emotions, why is it not sovereign over forgetfulness and ignorance?” Their attempt at argument is ridiculous!
[6] For reason does not rule its own emotions, but those that are opposed to justice, courage, and self-control; and it is not for the purpose of destroying them, but so that one may not give way to them….
[35] For the emotions of the appetites are restrained, checked by the temperate mind, and all the impulses of the body are bridled by reason….
[6] …Just so it is with the emotions that hinder one from justice.
[7] Otherwise how could it be that someone who is habitually a solitary gormandizer, a glutton, or even a drunkard can learn a better way, unless reason is clearly lord of the emotions?
[8] Thus, as soon as a man adopts a way of life in accordance with the law, even though he is a lover of money, he is forced to act contrary to his natural ways and to lend without interest to the needy and to cancel the debt when the seventh year arrives.
[9] If one is greedy, he is ruled by the law through his reason so that he neither gleans his harvest nor gathers the last grapes from the vineyard….
(4Maccabees 1:1-6, 35; 2:6b-9a)

And Philo of Alexandria says of this commandment:

(90) And who is there who can avoid admiring the proclamation or commandment about reapers and gatherers of the fruit of the Vineyard? For Moses commands that at the time of harvest the farmer shall not gather up the corn which falls from the sheaves, and that he shall not cut down all the crop, but that he shall leave a portion of the field unreaped, by this law rendering the rich magnanimous and communicative of their wealth, from being compelled thus to neglect some portion of their own lawful property, and not to be eager to save it all, nor to collect it all together, not to bring it all home and lay it up in store, and making the poor at the same time more cheerful and contented. For as the poor have no property of their own, he allows them to go into the fields of their fellow countrymen, and to reap of what they have left as if it were their own. (91) And at the season of autumn he again enjoins the possessors of the land, when they are gathering their fruits, not to pick up those fruits which fall to the ground, nor to glean the vineyards a second time. And he also gives the same command to those who are gathering Olives. Like a most affectionate father, whose children are not all in the enjoyment of equal good fortune, since some of them live in abundance, while others are reduced to the very extremity of poverty; but he, commiserating and pitying them, summons them to partake of the possessions of their brethren, using what thus belongs to others as it were their own, not in so doing inviting them to any action of shameless wrong, but supplying their real necessities, allowing them a participation, not in the crops alone, but even in the land themselves likewise, as far as appearance is concerned. (92) But there are men who are so sordid in their minds, being wholly devoted to the acquisition of money and labouring to the death for every description of gain, without paying any attention to the source from which it is derived, that they glean their vineyards again after they have gathered the fruit, and beat their olive branches a second time, and reap the whole of the land which bears barley and the whole of the land which bears wheat, convicting themselves of an illiberal and slavish littleness of soul, and also displaying their impiety; (93) for they themselves have contributed but a small part of what was necessary for the cultivation of their lands, but the greater number and the most important of the means to render the land fertile and productive have been supplied by nature, such as seasonable rains, a proper temperature of the atmosphere, those nurses of the seeds sown and springing up–heavy and continual dews, vivifying breezes, the beneficial bestowal of the seasons of the year, so that the summer shall not scorch the crops nor the frost chill them, nor the revolutions of spring and autumn deteriorate or diminish what is produced. (94) And though these men know and actually see that nature is continually perfecting her work by these means, and is enriching them with her abundant bounties, nevertheless they endeavour to appropriate the whole of her liberality to themselves, and, as if they themselves were the causes of everything, they give no share of any of their wealth to any one, showing at one and the same time their inhumanity and their impiety. These men accordingly, since they have not laboured in the cause of virtue of their own free will, he reproves and chastises against their will by his sacred laws, which the virtuous man obeys voluntarily, and the wicked man unwillingly.
(On the Virtues 90-94)

In his book The Republic, Plato records a dialog between his teacher Socrates and several of Socrates’ friends.  The beginning of this dialog is a discussion exploring the true meaning of “justice.”  The dialog opens with the definition given by the Greek poet Simonides that justice is “giving everyone his due.”  Socrates takes exception to this definition.  He points out that it would not be justice to return a borrowed weapon to a madman, despite the fact that it was “due” (owed to) him.  Socrates then suggests that justice might better be defined as giving good to our friends and injury to our enemies.  However Socrates points out that men are often misled as to who their true friends and enemies are.  Moreover he determines that treating an enemy poorly will only make him a worse man, and that a just man would only try to make another man a better man.

The Torah definition of Justice, also found in this weeks Torah reading, might well be:

You shall love your neighbor
as yourself.
(Lev. 19:18)

This statement equates our love for others with our love for ourselves.  It is the basis with the saying by the Ba’al Shem Tov (founder of Hasidic Judaism):

It lies upon you to love your comrade as one like yourself.
And who knows as you do your many defects?
As you are nonetheless able to love yourself,
so love your fellow no matter how many defects you may see in him.
– Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (The Besht)

One of the most significant parallels between Yeshua and Hillel is Their profound teaching of Love. Yeshua’s teaching of love was a radical departure from the teachings at Qumran. Now Philo tells us that the Essenes had great “desire to promote brotherly love” (Philo; The Hypothetica 11:2) this brotherly love seems to have been only to fellow members of the Yachad (unity). This is reflected in the Damascus Document’s use of Lev. 19:18. In the Torah Leviticus 19:18 reads:

You shall not avenge,
nor bear any grudge against the children of my people,
But you shall love your neighbor as yourself:
I am YHWH.

Now the Damascus Document interprets this passage as follows:

As for the passage that says, “Take no vengeance and bear no grudge against your kinfolk” (Lev. 19:18) any covenant member who brings against his fellow an accusation not sworn to before witnesses or who makes an accusation in the heat of anger or who tells it to his elders to bring his fellow into repute, the same is a vengence-taker and a grudge-bearer….
(Damascus Document 9, 2)

Note that this Qumran interpretation of Lev. 19:19 would limit “neighbor” in Lev. 19:18 to “any covenant member” i.e. a member of the Yachad. In fact the Qumran sect taught:

…bear unremitting hatred towards all men of ill repute…
to leave it to them to pursue wealth and mercenary gain…
truckling to a depot.
(Man. Of  Disc. Ix, 21-26)

By contrast Hillel is quoted as saying:

Be disciples of Aaron,
loving peace and pursuing peace,
loving people and drawing them near to the Torah.
(m.Avot 1:12)

The Qumran attitude was one of hatred to the sinner. There was no concept of “drawing them near to the Torah” but rather to “leave it to them to [sin]… truckling to a depot.” Yet Hillel took the opposite approach. Hillel’s attitude was to “Love” the men of ill repute and draw them near to the Torah. This was also Yeshua’s approach.

Yeshua taught:

You have heard that it was said
“You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.”
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you persecute you
that you may be sons of your Father in heaven;
for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brethren only,
what do you do more than others?
Do not even the tax collectors do so?
(Mt. 5:43-47)

Yeshua here begins by quoting the Tanak “Love your neighbor” (Lev. 19:18) but then gives the Qumran corollary “hate your enemy.” Yeshua differs with this “hate your enemy” teaching in agreement with the love philosophy of Hillel. Apparently the Qumran community inferred from “Love your neighbor” (Lev. 19:18) that they should therefore bear unremitting hatred toward their enemies. To Yeshua (and presumably Hillel) the issue is the interpretation of “neighbor.” In his Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-36) Yeshua argues that we cannot be sure who our “neighbor” is, so in order to make sure we do not violate Lev. 19:18 we should love everyone.  We are prohibited from hating others, as we read in the Tanak:

28 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judges, for I should have lied to El
that is above.
29 If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or exulted when evil found him—
(Job 31:28-29 HRV)

This is very much in keeping with Socrates’ thoughts on justice which we discussed earlier.

Yeshua of Nazareth said:

Judge not, and you will not be judged,
condemn not, and you will not be condemned.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged;
and with what measure you mete, it will be measured to you again.
(Matt. 7:1-2 HRV)

This poetic statement is complete only in Hebrew Matthew. In the Aramaic and in the Greek only parts of this poetic statement are preserved by Matthew (Mt. 7:1-2) while other parts are preserved in Luke (Luke 6:37-38):

[A] Judge not, and you will not be judged,
[B] condemn not, and you will not be condemned.

[A] For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged;
[B] and with what measure you mete, it will be measured to you again.

Aramaic and Greek Matthew omit “condemn not, and you will not be condemned” Aramaic and Greek Luke omit “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged”

The initial statement in Mt. 7:1 Judge not, and you will not be judged, condemn not, and you will not be condemned has been totally misunderstood by those who have neglected the context of the statement.

The statements here serve as a basis for the Golden Rule in Mt. 7:12 giving it a basis in the Torah commands surrounding equal weights and measures. One of the Oral Laws recorded in the Mishna relating to weights and measures says:

By the same measure by which a man metes out [to others]
they mete out to him…
(m.Sotah 1:7)

This Oral Law is the obvious source for Yeshua’s statement.

This Oral Law may be stated because of its traditional application to the concepts taught in the previous verses (6:18-34). As we read in the Midrash Rabbah:

Elohim only rewards measure for measure.
(Exodus Rabbah 1 (5b))

And in the Targum Yerushalami:

Measure corresponds to measure.
With the measure with which someone measures (on earth)
It will be measured to him in heaven,
May it be a good or a bad measure.
(Targum Yerushalami to Gen. 38:26)

In the Midrash Siphre:

With the measure with which you measured,
I measure unto you.
(Siphre Deut. 308 (133b))

And in the Midrash Rabbah we read:

As the weaver weaves on his spindle, so he receives it;
with his (own) spindle he takes it.
As the pan boils over, so it pours it (the contents)
out down its sides. Everything that one spits upwards into the
air, falls back on his own face.
(Eccl. Rabbah 7, 9 (105a))

Yeshua uses this concept to draw the following

For with what judgment you judge,
you will be judged

Similar statements appears in the Mishna:

…do not judge your fellow until you are in his place…
(m.Avot 2:4)

…give everyone the benefit of the doubt…
(m.Avot 1:6)

When Yeshua says “Judge not, and you will not be judged, condemn not, and you will not be condemned” in context he is saying that we will be judged by the same standards we judge others. Up until this point Yeshua has only applied this to our relationship with Elohim, but in the following verses Yeshua will apply it to our relationship with others as well.

Yeshua continues:

3 And how [do] you see the splinter in your brother’s eye, but see not the beam that is in your own eye?
4 And how [do] you say to your brother, Suffer it now brother, so that I may pull out the splinter out of your eye: and behold, a beam is in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite! Pull out at the first, the beam from your own eye: and then you will be able to see, to pull out the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
(Matt. 7:3-5 HRV)

The phrase “a beam is in your own eye” is given as an illustration of the concept laid out in the first two verses, but now the application is to our relationships with others.

Similarly we read in the Talmud:

R.Johanan further said: What is the import of the words,
And it came to pass in the days of the judging of the judges?
It was a generation which judged its judges.
If the judge said to a man, ‘Take the splinter from between
your teeth,’ he would retort, ‘Take the beam from between your eyes.’
(b. Baba Barta 15b)

R. Tarfon said, I wonder whether there is any one
in this generation who accepts reproof, for if one says to him:
Remove the mote from between your eyes,
he would answer: Remove the beam from between your eyes!
(Arakin 16b)

Trim yourself and then trim others.
(b.San. 18a; 19a & b.Bab.M. 107b)

Let us pick off the straws from ourselves,
before we do it to others.
(j.Ta’an. 65a)

After a bit Yeshua gives the statement known as the Golden Rule:

Therefore whatever you would that men should do to you,
do you even so to them: for this is the Torah and the Prophets.
(Matt. 7:12 HRV)

This reads very closely with Hillel’s famous statement as found in the Talmud:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor
that is the whole Torah…
(b.Shabbat 31a)

Of course Yeshua’s “Golden Rule” has long been recognized as a positive restatement of Hillel’s statement, but many are unaware that even earlier this wise saying had been passed from Toviel to his son Toviyah in the Apocryphal Book of Toviyah (Tobit):

…that which you hate to be done to you,
do not you to others.
(Tobit 4:15 HRV).

Likewise we also read in the Mishnah:

Let the respect owing to your fellow,
be as precious to you as the respect owing to yourself.
(m.Avot 2:10)


Let your fellow’s money
be as precious to you as your own.
(m.Avot 2:12)

So a good definition for justice might be “whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them but that which you hate to be done to you, do not you to others” With this rule we place ourselves on one side of the scales of justice and others on the other side.

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The Double Nature of Man (Parsha Acharei Mot)

This week’s Torah parsha is Acharei Mot (Lev. 16-18). Included in this week’s reading is the commandment against consuming blood:

[10] And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
[11] For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
[12] Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.
(Lev. 17:10-12 KJV)

The Hebrew word for “life” in Lev. 17:11 is NEFESH, meaning “soul, life or self.”

Philo of Alexandria infers from this precept, that man has two natures, a vivifying animal nature, and a rational, reasoning nature:

(80) for in many places of the law as given by Moses, he pronounces the blood to be the essence of the soul or of life, saying distinctly, “For the life of all flesh is the blood Thereof.” (Lev.17:11.) And when the Creator of all living things first began to make man, after the creation of the heaven and the earth, and all the things which are between the two, Moses says, “And he breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul,” (Gen. 2:7) showing again by this expression that it is the breath which is the essence of the life. (81) And, indeed, he is accustomed diligently to record all the suggestions and purposes of God from the beginning, thinking it right to adopt his subsequent statements to aid to make them consistent with his first accounts. Therefore, after he had previously stated the breath to be the essence of the life, he would not subsequently have spoken of the blood as occupying the most important place in the body, unless he had been making a reference to some very necessary and comprehensive principle. (82) What then are we to say? The truth is, that every one of us according to the nearest estimation of numbers, is two persons, the animal and the man. And each of these two has a cognate power in the faculties, the seat of which is the soul assigned to it. To the one portion is assigned the vivifying faculty according to which we live; and to the other, the reasoning faculty in accordance with which we are capable of reasoning. Therefore, even the irrational animals partake of the vivifying power; but of the rational faculty, God–I will not say partakes, but–is the ruler, and that is the fountain of the most ancient Word (Logos).
XXIII. (83) Therefore, the faculty which is common to us with the irrational animals, has blood for its essence. And it, having flowed form the rational fountain, is spirit, not air in motion, but rather a certain representation and character of the divine faculty which Moses calls by its proper name an image, showing by his language that God is the archetypal pattern of rational nature, and that man is the imitation of him, and the image formed after his model; not meaning by man that animal of a double nature, but the most excellent species of the soul which is called mind and reason.
(Worse is Wont to Attack Better 80-83)

Philo of Alexandria also saw a dichotomy in Genesis 2:7, between what he called “body” or “flesh” and what he called “soul” or “mind” with the mind being a fragment of the divine:

There are two several parts of which we consist, the soul and the body; now the body is made of earth, but the soul consists of air, being a fragment of the Divinity, for “God breathed into man’s face the breath of life, and man became a living Soul.”(Gen. 2:7) It is therefore quite consistent with reason to say that the body which was fashioned out of the earth has nourishment which the earth gives forth akin to the matter of which it is composed; but the soul, inasmuch as it is a portion of the ethereal nature, is supported by nourishment which is ethereal and divine, for it is nourished on knowledge, and not on meat or drink, which the body requires. (Allegorical Interpretation, III, 161)

He does well here to attribute the flow of blood to the mass of flesh, combining two things appropriate to one another; but the essence of the mind he has not made to depend on any created thing, but has represented it as breathed into man by God from above. For, says Moses, “The Creator of the universe breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living Soul,” (Gen. 2:7) who also, it is recorded, was fashioned after the image of the Creator. (Who is the Heir of Divine Things? 56)

For among created things, the heaven is holy in the world, in accordance with which body, the imperishable and indestructible natures revolve; and in man the mind is holy, being a sort of fragment of the Deity, and especially according to the statement of Moses, who says, “God breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living Soul.”(Gen. 2:7). (On Dreams 1, 34)

In the ancient Hebraic Stoic work, 4Maccabees (also known as On the Supremacy of Reason) we read concerning this verse:

21 Now when Elohim fashioned man, he planted in him emotions and inclinations,
22 but at the same time he enthroned the mind among the senses as a sacred governor over them all.
23 To the mind he gave the Torah; and one who lives subject to this will rule a kingdom that is temperate, just, good, and courageous.
(4Macc. 2:21-23)

And as Philo of Alexandria concluded:

“For these passions are the causes of all good and of all evil; of good when they submit to the authority of dominant reason, and of evil when they break out of bounds and scorn all government and restraint.”
(Life of Moses 1; VI, 26)

The neshoma that was breathed into man, is the rational mind. It is a spark of the Logos, the rational mind that permeates the Universe. Hebraic Stoicism teaches us that our rational mind, should be in control over our emotions.

This is very similar to the teaching of the Tanya, which says:

The second soul of a Jew is truly a part of G‑d above (Job 31:2), as it is written, “And He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” (Gen. 2:7) and “Thou didst breathe it [the soul] into me.” (Morning Prayer b.Berachot 60b) (Tanya; Likutei Amarim Chapter 2)

The Tanya contrasts man’s Animal soul with his Divine soul, and deals with the conflict in man between the animal soul and the divine soul:

Just as two kings wage war over a town,
which each wishes to capture and rule,
that is to say, to dominate its inhabitants according to his will,
so that they obey him in all that he decrees for them,
so do the two souls— the Divine and the vitalising animal soul…
wage war against each other over the body and all its limbs.
(Tanya Chapter 9)

The Tanya divides each of these two souls into two parts “sechel” (intellect) and “middot” (emotional attributes). The intellect is said to have three aspects: chochmah (wisdom), binah (understanding) and da’at (knowledge). while the emotional aspects are divided into seven aspects. The name “Chabad” is derived from the first letter of each of the aspects of the intellect. These ten aspects are seen as associated with the ten sefirot of the Tree of Life of Kabbalah, three upper sefirot and seven lower sefirot.

The Tanya teaches that in the animal soul, the seven emotions dominate the intellect, but that in the divine soul, which it also calls the “rational soul” (נפש המשכל), it is possible for the intellect to dominate the emotions and thus gain mastery over the animal soul. (The Hebraic Stoic author of 4th Maccabees, also taught that there are seven basic emotions).

The Tanya teaches that by programming our minds with Torah, the intellect of a man’s divine soul allows him to subdue the seven emotions of his animal soul, allowing him to, with a pure motive, be set free from the selfish motives of his animal soul:

For when the intellect in the rational soul deeply contemplates and immerses itself exceedingly in the greatness of G-d, how He fills all worlds and encompasses all worlds, and in the presence of Whom everything is considered as nothing— there will be born and aroused in his mind and thought the emotion of awe for the Divine Majesty, to fear and be humble before His blessed greatness, which is without end or limit, and to have the dread of G-d in his heart. Next, his heart will glow with an intense love, like burning coals, with a passion, desire and longing, and a yearning soul, towards the greatness of the blessed En Sof. This constitutes the culminating passion of the soul, of which Scripture speaks, as “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth,.. .” and “My soul thirsteth for G-d,…” and “My soul thirsteth for Thee….” This thirst is derived from the element of Fire, which is found in the divine soul. As students of natural science affirm, and so it is in Etz Chayim, the element of Fire is in the heart, whilst the source of [the element of] Water and moisture is in the brain, which is explained in Etz Chayim, Portal 50, to refer to the faculty of chochmah, called “The water of the divine soul.” The rest of the middot are all offshoots of fear and love and their derivations, as is explained elsewhere.

Similarly is it with the human soul, which is divided in two— sechel (intellect) and middot (emotional attributes). The intellect includes chochmah, binah and da at (ChaBaD), whilst the middot are love of G-d, dread and awe of Him, glorification of Him, and so forth. ChaBaD [the intellectual faculties] are called “mothers” and source of the middot, for the latter are “offspring” of the former.

The explanation of the matter is as follows:

The intellect of the rational soul, which is the faculty that conceives any thing, is given the appellation of chochmah—כ”ח מ”ה— the “potentiality” of “what is.” When one brings forth this power from the potential into the actual, that is, when [a person] cogitates with his intellect in order to understand a thing truly and profoundly as it evolves from the concept which he has conceived in his intellect, this is called binah. These [chochmah and binah] are the very “father” and “mother” which give birth to love of G-d, and awe and dread of Him.
(Tanya; Likutei Amarim; Chapter 3)(Tanya; Likutei Amarim; Chapter 3)

Philo is teaching us not only that there are two natures within man, but that the commandment against consuming meat with the blood still in it, teaches us that we should be led by our rational mind, and not our irrational animal nature.

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Cleansing our Leprous House (Parsha M’tzora)

This week we have a double reading Parsha Tazria (Lev. 12:1-13:59) and Parsha M’tzora (Lev. 14:1-15:33). Among the subjects in this week’s Parshot is that of the cleansing of a leprous house. (The ancient Hebrews appear to have used the same word to describe leprosy on a person and mold on a house.)

[33] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
[34] When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession;
[35] And he that owneth the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house:
[36] Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house:
[37] And he shall look on the plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow strakes, greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall;
[38] Then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days:
[39] And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if the plague be spread in the walls of the house;
[40] Then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into an unclean place without the city:
[41] And he shall cause the house to be scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without the city into an unclean place:
[42] And they shall take other stones, and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister the house.
(Lev. 14:33-42 KJV)

Philo of Alexandria writes of this passage:

Moreover, the organs of the outward senses have valleys, great ducts to receive everything external which is an object of the outward senses, which collect together an infinite number of distinctive qualities, and by means of those ducts pour them in upon the mind, and wash it out, and bring it in the depths. (16) On this account, in the law concerning leprosy, it is expressly ordered, “when in any house hollows appear of a pale or fiery red colour, that the inhabitants shall take out the stones in which such hollows appear, and put in other stones in their Places;” (Lev 14:36) that is to say, when different destructive qualities which the pleasures and the appetites, and the passions akin to them, have wrought in men, weighing down and oppressing the whole soul, have made it more hollow and more lowly than its natural condition would be, it is well to remove the reasons which are the cause of this weakness, and to bring in such in their stead as are sound by a legitimate style of education and a healthy kind of discipline.
(The Worse Attacks the Better 15b-16)

Philo sees the house as akin to our souls and the “leprosy” (i.e. mold) infecting the house akin to “the pleasures and the appetites, and the passions” which infect and weaken our souls. From this we learn that we must remove the cause of this weakness, so that our rational mind is in control, rather than pleasures, appetites and passions.

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