Friday, April 21, 2006

Brachos, nezikin, or pirkei avos?

The gemara (B”K 30) offers three opinions of what one should learn if one wishes to become a chassid: hilchos brachos, hilchos nezikin, or pirkei avos. (Parenthetically: davar pashut to the gemara that chassidus can be attained only through learning – the question is just what). The MahaRaL writes that these three components correspond to the three parts of every person: the body, the mind, and the neshoma. How does the breakdown work out? Here was my guess:
Soul: Brachos (similar to avodah)
Body: Nezekin (damage is physical)
Mind: Avos (derech eretz is intuitive)

Surprise! Not at all how the MaHaRaL approaches it. Here is the MaHaRaL:

Soul: Nezikin, because the body gets no benefit from harming another, it is indicative of a corrputed soul
Body: Avos, because the body requires words of derech eretz and mussar to become civilized.
Mind: Brachos, because dveikus is the product of a developed mind that longs for Hashem.

Very Rambam-ish in associating dveikus with the seichel and not the neshoma. Also interesting that one cannot have a ta’avah to be mazik; it is purely an act of ill-will on the part of the neshoma.

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