September 23, 2019

Day 2704 – What is a Soul?

One week to go. After seven and a half years of reading ” target=”_blank” title=”Daf Yomi”>Daf Yomi cycle renews. G-d willing, I will attend the massive celebration called ” target=”_blank” title=”Saving Lincoln”>Saving Lincoln, and commence production on the Talmud documentary. Thank you, G-d, for having sufficient faith in me to hand me this plate. And as we near the end of the Talmud’s final tractate, Niddah, and the beginning of its first tractate, Berachos, we discover a wonderful connection between the two, and the perfect way to complete the circle.

Here is the Torah’s most basic commandment, repeated twice daily in the verses of the ” target=”_blank” title=”seichel”>seichel to creatively and consistently do good.

And they teach the unborn child the entire Torah… (Niddah 30b)

“With all your might” is understood to mean with all your wealth. In other words, dedicate all your resources to the pursuit of good (see Berachos 54a). An alternative interpretation from the same source: whatever the L-rd metes out to you, good or bad, thank Him.

Loving G-d with all one’s heart and might are thus relatively straightforward, at least in terms of understanding what is demanded of us. Performing these commandments is of course another matter, but the middle verse is mysterious even in its demand: what does it mean to love G-d “with all your soul?”

But as soon as the child emerges into the air of the world, an angel comes and strikes him on his mouth, causing him to forget the entire Torah. (Niddah 30b)

The most famous interpretation of “with all your soul” comes from Rabbi Akiva. This great teacher and “> More pieces like this at