I'm looking for more information on the concept of שבעים כוחות האדם, which was apparently discussed by the Vilna Gaon. What are they? Where did he learn of them?

I've read that he writes about this in his commentary to Isaiah 11:1 - but the freely available editions of his commentary on Otzar don't have anything on that pasuk. (I don't have access to the Mosad HaRav Kook edition)

I also know of the Sefer called עצות והדרכות חלק א by רב ד"ר יעקב מרדכי גרינוואלד which includes a Kuntres at the end on this subject, but I don't have access to that either.

Any other relevant sources would be helpful. Thanks!


1 Answer 1


In the Gra's commentary on Isaiah 11:1 (Mosad HaRav Kook ed.), he writes:

ויצא חטר מגזע ישי. אמרו במדרש שבפסוק "וירק את חניכיו" שהם רמ"ח אברים וע' כחות

The Gra also enumerated these 70 kochot, as brought here.
Footnote 3 refers as well to ליקוטי הגר"א מכת"י למשלי א,ד and the introduction to Pe'at ha-Shulchan who cites the two beneficial things that the Gra obtained from his philosophical study, one of which was the שבעים כחות באדם. The note also refers to ר' יעקב מרדכי גרינולד, קונטרס שבעים כחות האדם.

As to where the Gra learned of these, the Pe'at ha-Shulchan, cited above, maintains that these were derived through the Gra's philosophical study. R. Chaim Kanievsky, cited in the Otzar Hachochmah forum, referred to the Zohar as a source for the notion of the 70 kochot. It seems that the Gra used his knowledge of philosophy to explain the meaning of the Zohar.

  • Thanks! Now I'd love to know where in the world of philosophy did the Gra come across these 70 kochot! :)
    – Chaim
    Apr 20, 2020 at 23:18
  • @Wfb otzar hachochma is completely free right now due to coronavirus, im sure they have the mosad harav kook editon of the gra!
    – Avi
    Apr 21, 2020 at 3:51
  • @Avi not everything on otzar hachochma is free right now
    – wfb
    Apr 21, 2020 at 13:52

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