Maharal, Derekh Chaim 4:13 (part 2) – Relationship ep. 10
The Beyond Meaningful Relationships – Relationshipful Meaning series at the kloiz meets on Wednesday nights at 8pm EDT.
Last Wednesday night (May 18th, 2022) we continued looking at the Maharal discussion of the three crowns with which we opened this whole series. these middos in his commentary on Avos 4:21. But there the Maharal refers to what he writes on mishnah 13, which discusses
Unfortunately, I forgot to hit “record” until the last 21 minutes of the discussion. If this summary below and the recorded bit aren’t enough to get back into the flow for next week, that’s what the WhatsApp group is for!’
So, a slightly wordier summary than usual: now that we have seen how Maharal and the Gra discuss the three domains that the three crowns are associated with. We return to the opening idea about the three crowns on three of the utensils in the Beis haMiqdash.
With the Gra, we were introduced to the terms “Nefesh“, “Ruach” and “Neshamah“. Nefesh being the more physical side, the aspect of the soul’s activities that keep us alive. “Ruach” is the Middle, where synthesis or dialectic tension occur, and the realm of the mind. And consequently, the seat of ego as well as of egotism and jealousy. (According to the Gra. More about jealousy from the Maharal’s perspective in a later shiur.)
Intuitively, we took the Gra’s taxonomy and mapped it to the three crowns quite straightforwardly:
- The crown of Torah is that of Ruach, the mind.
- That of Kehunah is of serving G-d, and it’s on the mizbeiach where incense, an odor, is offered, the most Neshamah-like service.
- And the crown of Melukhah is on the physical plane.
In this piece, we saw how different the Maharal’s take on the three crowns and how they map to Nefesh, Ruach, Neshamah was from what we deduced from the Gra. To the Maharal:
- The crown of Torah is indeed the Ruach. But…
- The crown of Kehunah is from the kohein’s birth. It’s tied to the body. Kehunah is the crown the Nefesh can acquire when we sanctify the physical. The Maharal ties this to the qorbanos, although I personally do not understand his point there — since (as we noted above) the crown is on the other Mizbeiach.
- The crown of Melukhah requires the right birth, but isn’t guaranteed by that birth. It is the crown of the Neshamah, that which motivates and guides the Ruach and Nefesh. And he uses the concept of “leiv Melakhim beyad Hashem” to elaborate this point (see inside).
Then there is the crown-which-isn’t-a-crown of Keser Sheim Tov. Which doesn’t inhere in the person at all, and thus not of the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshamah. It isn’t localized; a good reputation is everywhere. And it’s the non-crown of the flames of the menorah, which continually go up — unlike the finite rising of the crowns on the aron, shulchan and mizbeiach.
The resource sheet for the Maharal on Avos 4:13 is on Sefaria at https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/405402
The story so far:
Relationship to Soul
|Relationship to Hashem||Relationship to Others|
|Uprooting Sin||Gilui Arayos||Avodah Zara||Shefichas Damim|
|Sustains the world||… gives the world value.||… for it was created liKhvodi||… causes Hashem’s Chessed to the world|
|Yaaqov/Yisrael as Synthesis||Yaaqov
Rivqa’s two bracelets of 5 gold each
|Sefer haYetzirah “Mother Letters”||א||ש||מ|
|Non-Intert Elements||Air/Wind (אוויר)||Fire (אש)||Water (מים)|
|Element as Middah||Thought
|Passion / “Hislahavus“
|Calm / Unity
in relating to other people
|Protecting Torah / Anshei Keneses haGdolah||Establishing many students||Diligence in Law||Making a siyag laTorah
(i.e. morality rather than precise Law)
(Synthesis or Dialectic)
|Truth / Law||Peace / Lovingkindness|
|Aspect of Soul||Ruach||Neshamah||Nefesh|
|Time of Life (paired with desires)||Adulthood||Old Age||Youth|
|Time of Night||Middle – the dog barks (demanding “hav hav!”)||Near Dawn –
The baby nurses, the wife talks with her husband
|Near Sunset –
The Donkey Brays
|Children of Adam & Chavah||Hevel||Qayin||Sheis (bidmuso betzalmo)|
|World||“In the Air” /
the world between our ears
|Organ||Heart||Head||Liver / Groin|
|Micha’s Miqdash Speculation|
|Crowns (simple take)||Torah||Kehunah||Kingship|
|Crowns (acc. to Maharal 4:13)||Torah||Kingship – in the soul’s ability to rule mind and body||Kehunah as the sanctification of the physical|
(see the Maharal, Avos 1:2)
(as implied by the Gra)