Seeing that lashon hakodesh allows for analyzing the connection between similar rooted words, what is the connection between liver (כבד) and honor (כבוד)?

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    Don't forget the word also means "heavy" or "serious" or "property"
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 13:16
  • Not that there has to be a connection, but maybe it’s that the liver functions in a way which maintains the body’s dignity/honor?
    – Oliver
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 13:16
  • sefaria.org/…
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


Shemot 7:14 says:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה' אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה כָּבֵ֖ד לֵ֣ב פַּרְעֹ֑ה מֵאֵ֖ן לְשַׁלַּ֥ח הָעָֽם

The Lord said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is heavy; he has refused to let the people out.

The word “kaveid” means “heavy” although I believe some translate this here as "stubborn" in the Torah. Why not say his heart was “kashah”: “hardened” or “ikeish”: "stubborn"? One explanation is that “kaveid” also means “liver” and liver must be broiled and the more it is broiled, the harder it becomes. Usually, when a stubborn person is beaten and punished, his heart softens and he begins to concede and yield. So the Torah is telling us that the heart of Pharaoh was like liver: the more plagues he received, the more stubborn he became. (מיוסד על מדרש רבה שמות, ט,ח)

That was an interesting fact from the Torah and Sages to tie it altogether with the other translation "heavy" as some in the comments noted.

To answer your question:

So how does "liver" relate to "honor"? Your liver is the hardest working organ in your body, performing over 500 life-sustaining functions. It is the largest internal organ in the body and filters toxins from your blood, produces digestive enzymes called bile, stores vitamins and minerals, regulates hormones and the immune response and helps clot blood. Your liver is the only organ in your body that can regrow after parts of it have been removed or damaged. In fact, your liver can grow back to its full size in just a matter of months.

Can you live without the liver though? NO. The liver is so crucial to existence that while you can live with only part of a liver, you can’t live without any liver at all.

In fact, we can live without various body organs... but not without the liver. Just as we cannot survive without our livers, we cannot have success in our lives or survive without any honor. But perhaps a lesson to take from the connection between "honor" and your "liver" is that just like how if you lose a part of your liver it can regrow... so to if you lose a part of your honor it can be regained.

  • What you relay about the liver is accurate, but the primary function of the liver related to the 'heaviness' of Pharoah's heart and its becoming 'hard' is that the liver produces the proteins which cause blood, which is the place of the Nefesh, to coagulate, meaning to transition from a fluid into a solid. This ability to transform into a more material state is why the liver (כבד) is the final letter of King (מל״ך). The concept of Melech HaMoshiach, revealing G-d's Kingship in this physical, material world, is related to Brains (מ״וחין), Heart (ל״ב), and Liver (כ״בד). Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 16:15
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    Can you please provide a source from where that is derived @YaacovDeane? Thanks! Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 18:09
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    If you’re asking about the מל״ך, מוחין, לב, כבד concept, that was from the Lubavitcher Rebbe in one of his earliest public talks. It was within the first 3 years of his Nasiyut. I’ll have to pull out a couple of seforim when I get home to provide an exact page reference. The Nefesh being in the blood is Bereshit. Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 19:28
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    @YaacovDeane, yes about the מל״ך, מוחין, לב, כבד concept. No need to pull page reference, thank you. Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 19:31
  • If you’re asking about revealing G-d’s Kingship in this physical, material world, that is the concept of דירה בתחתונים like is discussed in the Ma’amar, באתי לגני at length. Commented Jul 30, 2019 at 19:33

"Kaved" is "heavy." Liver is the heaviest internal organ. Something honorable has figurative "heft." Done.

(Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik had a lecture about yeshiva students taking secular studies entitled a koved or a kavod? ["burden or honor"])

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