Likutei Amarim Chapter 9, Class # 1

Likutei Amarim, beginning of  Chapter 9

In the previous chapters the Alter Rebbe elaborated on the composition of the Jew’s divine soul with its ten holy soul-powers and three soul-garments, and his animal soul, with its corresponding ten powers and three garments originating inkelipah. In the present chapter the Alter Rebbe will discuss the battle fought within the Jew between these two souls.

והנה מקום משכן נפש הבהמית שמקליפת נוגה בכל איש ישראל הוא בלב

The abode of the animal soul derived from kelipat nogah in every Jew, i.e., the place where the animal soul (nefesh habahamit) resides and is most manifest, is in the heart; for, as mentioned in previous chapters, the animal soul is predominantly emotional, and the heart is the seat of emotion.

בחלל השמאלי, שהוא מלא דם — וכתיב: כי הדם הוא הנפש

More specifically, the abode of the animal soul is in the left ventricle, as it is filled with blood, and it is written,1 “For the blood is the soul” (nefesh) — indicating that the soul resides in that ventricle filled with blood, the left ventricle.

ולכן כל התאות והתפארות וכעס ודומיהן הן בלב

Because the animal soul resides in the heart, therefore all lusts and boasting and anger and similar passions are in the heart,

ומהלב הן מתפשטות בכל הגוף

and from the heart they spread throughout the entire body,

וגם עולה למוח שבראש, לחשב ולהרהר בהן ולהתחכם בהן

rising also to the brain in the head,2 to think and meditate about them and to become cunning in them —

כמו שהדם מקורו בלב, ומהלב מתפשט לכל האברים, וגם עולה להמוח שבראש

just as the blood has its source in the heart, and from the heart it circulates into every organ, rising also to the brain in the head.3

Similarly the soul (nefesh) clothed in the blood abides in the heart and spreads out from there to pervade one’s entire body. Thus, in the case of the animal soul, the “brain” (the intellectual faculties) too, instead of motivating the heart and guiding it, merely reacts to it, and serves only as a clever tool for realizing the passions of the heart.

אך מקום משכן נפש האלקית הוא במוחין שבראש, ומשם מתפשטת לכל האברים

But the abode of the divine soul is in the brains that are in the head, and from there it extends to all the limbs.

The divine soul is essentially intellective, and the brain is the seat of intellect.

וגם בלב, בחלל הימני שאין בו דם

[The divine soul resides] also in the heart, in the right ventricle where there is no blood,

וכמו שכתוב: לב חכם לימינו

As it is written,4 “The heart of the wise man — i.e., the divine soul (in contrast with the animal soul; specifically: the evil inclination, the yetzer hara,which is described5 as ”an old fool“) — is on his right.”

We thus see that the divine soul resides not only in the brain but in the right ventricle of the heart as well.

As he did when speaking of the animal soul, the Alter Rebbe again singles out the heart from among all the other organs; having said that the divine soul extends to all the organs, he mentions the heart specifically: “and also in the heart.” For unlike the other organs in which merely the extension of the divine soul is manifest, in the heart the divine soul itself (i.e., its emotional faculties) is revealed. The Alter Rebbe now goes on to explain this point.

והיא אהבת ה׳ כרשפי שלהבת

This revelation in the heart of the divine soul residing in the brain is man’s fiery love towards G‑d,

מתלהבת בלב משכילים

which flares up in the heart of discerning men who utilize their power of Chochmah,

המבינים ומתבוננים

who understand and reflect with their faculty of Binah (“understanding”), by which they understand the matter in all its details and ramifications,

בדעתם אשר במוחם

with the knowledge of their brain, i.e., with their faculty of Daat(“knowledge”), by which they immerse themselves and sensitize themselves in that which they understand; thus, the love flares up in the hearts of those who utilize all three faculties of Chochmah, Binah and Daat —

בדברים המעוררים את האהבה

on matters that arouse this love, i.e., in contemplation of G‑d’s greatness (as the Alter Rebbe will soon conclude).

For, as explained in the third chapter, understanding the greatness of G‑d leads one to love Him. This love, then, is one example of the divine soul’s reaching from the brain into the heart.

וכן שמחת לבב בתפארת ה׳ והדר גאונו

Similarly: Another, deeper way in which the heart’s emotion gives expression to the presence of the divine soul in the brain: the gladness of the heart at [apprehending] the beauty of G‑d and the majesty of His glory;

כאשר עיני החכם אשר בראשו, במוח חכמתו ובינתו

the gladness that is aroused when [the divine soul’s intellect, which the Alter Rebbe, borrowing a phrase from Kohelet,6 describes as] the wise man’s eyes, which are “in his head,” meaning in the brain harboring his wisdom and understanding —

מסתכלים ביקרא דמלכא ותפארת גדולתו עד אין חקר ואין סוף ותכלית, כמבואר במקום אחר

when these “eyes” i.e., intellectual faculties gaze intently at the glory of the King and the beauty of His unfathomable, infinite and boundless greatness, then the heart rejoices and is glad, as is explained elsewhere.

Gazing with the mind’s “eye” means that one not only understands the greatness of G‑d, but also perceives it — as though seeing it with his very eyes. Such perception arouses great joy in one’s heart, and this joy, like the love spoken of earlier, is a direct result and a manifestation of the intellect of the divine soul residing in the brain.

וכן שאר מדות קדושות שבלב הן מחב״ד שבמוחין

Similarly the other holy emotions in the heart too, such as fear of G‑d, and the like, originate from the ChaBaD (wisdom, understanding, knowledge) in the brains.

The Alter Rebbe has thus established7 that each of these two souls has its own, separate abode and way of functioning. Lest we erroneously conclude that each soul goes about its own affairs, not interfering or concerning itself with those of the other, the Alter Rebbe continues:

אך הנה כתיב: ולאום מלאום יאמץ

It is written,1 however, “One nation shall prevail over the other nation.”

The verse refers to Jacob and Esau. In terms of a Jew’s spiritual life it is understood as an allusion to the divine soul and the animal soul respectively, who are constantly warring with each other.

1. Devarim 12:23.
2. Note the difference in expression: The emotions merely “spread” to all the other organs, but “rise” to the brain. When emotion is assimilated into the intellect it indeed “rises”, and is elevated (— even in the case of the animal soul, where the intellect is merely the tool of emotion), for the essential nature of intellect is more refined than that of emotion. With regard to the blood (mentioned presently), the expression “rises” is again used specifically in connection with the brain: the blood, too, is elevated and refined upon ascending to the brain.
3. The Rebbe explains that the specific mention of the brain (aside from its inclusion with the other organs) parallels the statement further that the divine soul’s abode is in thebrain and the heart.
4. Kohelet 10:2.
5. Ibid. 4:13.
6. Ibid. 2:14.
7. This paragraph is based on a comment of the Rebbe.

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