Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There's a popular understanding that the Gra asked R Chaim of Volozhin to write a sefer based on his teachings that would deal with many points that the sefer Tanya dealt with and this is the Nefesh HaChaim.

  1. Is there a source to this story?
  2. If not, is it a given that what R Chaim writes in his book is what the Gra himself held to be true?
share|improve this question
I have heard that it is closer to Tanya with regards to the concept of tzimtzum then the Gra's understanding of tzimtzmum – Efraim May 18 '14 at 16:35
see this answer: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/718/2699 – Bochur613 May 18 '14 at 17:17
Rav Menachem Kasher in Torah Sheleimah, appendices to Parshas Shemos, considers R' Chaim's understanding of מלא כל הארץ כבודו to be congruent to that of the Baal HaTanya, unlike the strong opposing opinion of the Gra. – Murex May 23 '14 at 20:25
@Bochur613 I wouldn't recommend that answer. – Double AA Jul 7 at 1:29

There is as much connection between the Nephesh Hachaim and the kisvei ha'Gra as there is between the Kedushas Levi and the Safra Detzneusa.

Paradoxically at best the Nephesh ha'Chaim is a watered down version of the toras ha'Gra similar to chassidus watering down kabbalah for popular consumption.

Reb Chaim Volozhin's take on life, the universe and everything is definitely his own understanding of how the Gra translates into a practical plan of action.

share|improve this answer
sources? [char] – mevaqesh Jul 7 at 1:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.