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.

(If you missed our discussion so far, there is always the posts in The Kloiz Aspaqlaria category.)

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.

Go to for links to the Zoom room, a link to join the WhatsApp group, to recordings of past shiurim, and the other posts like this one.

The resource sheet for the Maharal on Avos 4:13 is on Sefaria at

The story so far:

Pillars Torah Avodah Gemilus Chasadim
Tov Inherent /
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
Avos Yaaqov Yitzchaq Avraham
Yaaqov/Yisrael as Synthesis Yaaqov
Rivqa’s two bracelets of 5 gold each
Rivqa’s nose-ring
Sefer haYetzirah “Mother Letters” א ש מ
Non-Intert Elements Air/Wind (אוויר) Fire (אש) Water (מים)
Element as Middah Thought
in Torah
Passion / “Hislahavus
in Avodah
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)
Dynamic Middle
(Synthesis or Dialectic)
Truth / Law Peace / Lovingkindness
Aspect of Soul Ruach Neshamah Nefesh
Desires Ego Spiritual Physical
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
Shamayim Aretz
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
Crowned Kelim
(see the Maharal, Avos 1:2)
Aron Mizbeiach haZahav Shulchan
Uncrowned Keilim
(as implied by the Gra)
Menorah Mizbeiach Nekhoshes Kiyor

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