Parshat Beshalach By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
Nervous, Circulatory, and Digestive Systems
“Heavy is the heart of Pharaoh, he refuses to send the People” is a common phrase throughout the plagues that occurred before the Exodus. Rambam explains that because Pharaoh strengthened his heart in the first place and refused to liberate Israel he was further denied to do so by Hashem, limiting his freedom of choice, as a type of punishment, and this, as said explicitly in the Torah, was instrumented in order that Hashem’s Name be glorified by the miraculous plagues and by their climax at the splitting of the Red Sea.
In Hebrew, the words for “the heart of Pharaoh is heavy” is “kaved lev Paraoh.” If we translate/explain these words in an anatomical context, and not in the usual literary context in the Torah we find that “kaved” means the liver, “lev” means the physical heart, and “Paraoh” has a reference to the head, where the brain is the primary organ, in the following way: Commentators explain the verb root peh. resh.ayin used in various contexts in the Torah to refer to a process of “revealing the head/thought,” an explanation which also follows in accordance with the Zohar. For example, the Leper and the Sota woman are to reveal, “para,” their head, i.e hair. The Torah says that those who sinned at the Sin of the Calf were “parua” for Aharon made them so – “p’rao.” The Kley Yakar explains that Aharon wished to reveal the sinners’ evil thoughts so that the sinners would be punished and not continue to cause dire effects on the People at large by their evil scheming and thought.
Based on this interpretation we find that the order of organs in “kaved lev Paraoh” are liver, a leading organ of the Digestive System, the heart, a leading organ of the Circulatory System, and the brain/head, a leading organ of the Nervous System. Kabbalistically speaking, these organs also “house”, so-to-speak, the three aspects of the soul that are “contained” within the body, i.e 1. Nefesh – “housed” in the liver, 2. Ruach – “housed” in the heart, 3. Neshama – “housed” in the brain. The fact that the order in “kaved lev Paraoh” goes from the lower organ/soul-level to the higher suggests that the lower facets of the person govern/take precedence over the higher facets of that person. When this is done it is most natural that there is a “refusal to send the People to serve God,” for the higher facets/soul-levels represent a closer connection to the Lofty Divine, and when these levels are “governed” by a person’s lower facets, power is ultimately denied from the higher more Divine facets. Indeed, the Zohar (III ,270b) describes the time of eating as a time of battle, or in common terms: “Are you eating the food, or is the food eating you?!” Based on what we just described here, we may say that when eating one stresses the digestive system led by the liver, and here there is a danger that this lower facet may take power over the circulatory and nervous systems which represent higher soul levels. Also, the word for bread, the classic food in the Torah, is “lehem,” which is also the verb root for battle – “milchama.” Therefore, before we eat we must say a bracha exerting our thoughts towards the Divine blessing inherent in food, thereby causing thought, representative of the higher soul-level, to govern the other levels, turning eating from an animalistic activity to a Divine activity.
Based on what we discussed two weeks ago, that a dominant function of blood is its fluidity/water-aspect, circulating energy and sustenance to the body, we may say that “placing the Circulatory System” after the Nervous, i.e “thought”/head-governed, System in the context of eating represents the “flow” of eating, i.e the manner the way a person eats by calmness of mind, pace of eating, etc., and not only by the person’s cognitive though, mentioned above. Indeed, the spiritual relationships mentioned here may also suggest important relationships between Nervous, Circulatory, and Digestive Systems in the realms of science and medical health.
We may say that measure for measure the Egyptians, led by Pharaoh who was led by the animal/”digestive”-soul, were led into the Red Sea by their horses, representing the animal-soul within a person. Ultimately, however, this whole process of riding into the Sea, at is says “vayinahagahu bekvedut” [also from the verb root “kaved”] brought about the Honor – “kavod” [also from the verb root “kaved”] of Hashem as it says “ve’ikavda bePharaoh uvechol hailo.” This process was also a pivotal move towards the Holy Land, Land of the Holy Presence called the “Honor of Hashem” in the Torah (we discussed this at length in the past). The first Jewish home in the Holy Land is Hebron, and the splitting of the Sea was a pivotal move towards this “home,” the “heavy – “kaved” – anchorage” of the Jewish People. Therefore, it is no wonder why the primary political power of Israel, the Davidic Line, emerged from Hebron, the City of Majestic Honor.
Miracles from the Holy Land: Fourth Day of Six-Day War:
Before 1929 Hebron had boasted a sizable Jewish population and fifty-eight synagogues. But for some time now, Jews had been banned from living in this city, and its synagogues were destroyed. Now, the IDF entering Hebron found white sheets hanging from the windows, and an Arab population surrendering peacefully. The war in the West Bank was concluded. Israel now had full control over the entire region.