So the Talmud in Berachot 61b asks why the Shema states to serve Hashem “with all your money” if it already says “with all your soul” and vice versa. And they answer that “all your soul” refers to someone who values their life over their money and therefore must give up their life for Hashem, and “all your money” refers to someone who values their wealth over their life and therefore must give it up for Hashem. So I have 2 questions. First of all, why does the Gemara even ask the question? I don't see how נפשך and מאדך are even related, one is physical and the other is spiritual. So why does the Talmud assume that they’re interchangeable and both aren’t necessary except to teach us something (which is what they derive after)? My second question is sorta related- why doesn’t the Gemara question why the Shema also states בכל לבבך? If anything, I would think your heart and soul are more connected than your soul and money and the question should’ve been asked on those two. Or alternatively, the Gemara could’ve asked about all 3 (I.e. why does the Shema use all these three examples). So basically why doesn’t the Gemara bring up or even mention בכל לבבך?

  • my understanding has always been that the gemara starts with the assumption that "your heart" is your health and well being so "your soul" is clearly distinct, but "your might" which is an intangible function of your soul would be a duplication of "your soul". Only when the word is understood as "your money" does it become a third category.
    – rosends
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 20:34
  • Does the Tanach anywhere else use the word מאדך so we could see what it’s true meaning is? Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 22:13
  • I heard מאדך defined as what is מאד, alot, to you. One could interpret rashi in the gemara as such as he says, מן החביב עליך, from what is loved to you.
    – אילפא
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 22:24
  • @Avrah I like that, but the question still remind why the Gemara assumes מאדך and נפשך are the same Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 22:47
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/110706/…
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 23:58

2 Answers 2


B'EH this is my understanding of the gemara, with my justifications. Hopefully it makes sense.

The lesson that this sugya wants to transmit is that some people love their money more than their life, and teach each type of person can love Hashem. It does so by asking the question about the Shema between soul and money, and by doing so is able to illustrate the lesson that these two types of people exist and how each one can serve Hashem through love.

The way this gemara demonstrates this lesson is by highlighting an anomaly in the wording of the Shema. The anomaly is that loving with all מאדך is in some way not necessary once we have already taught נפשך (and vice versa, see next paragraph), although not because it assumes the are identical. It's either because if one has already given up one's entire life, that should surely include one's money (we can't take it with us!), or that giving up one's life is way more difficult than giving up one's money because one's life is more valuable to the vast majority of people (Ben Yehoyada), so how can we add anything by saying מאדך?

The other way round is a bit harder to understand; it's not the kind of question you expect someone to ask because it's seemingly obvious that מאדך does not include/deal with נפשך. The Ben Ish Chai in Ben Yehoyada lays out an argument that נפשך also includes יסורין, suffering, and it's quite expected that some people would prefer lose their money than to suffer, so the Torah taught נפשך to teach one should love Hashem more than suffering, and the gemara adds on to them the less likely case of those that would rather die than lose their possessions. [I would be interested if anyone offers a seemingly easier answer that perhaps a person might consider his very life a gift and possession from Hashem, i.e. מאדך includes נפשך, and explains why the Ben Ish Chai didn't consider it.]

So why isn't בכל לבבך mentioned? As we can see, this is its own category that doesn't involve one's entire life. It involves just one's heart, and therefore we can't draw a kal vechomer to the other two, or find the other two included in it. As Berachot 9:5 states, בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ, בִּשְׁנֵי יְצָרֶיךָ, בְּיֵצֶר טוֹב וּבְיֵצֶר רָע, "With all your heart: with both your inclinations; your good inclination and your evil inclination" (which is a nuance that isn't taught from just נפשך, although I'd like to see a commentary that says that b'ferush). Abarbanel adds a few other explanations of these words, some of which are based on the Rambam 3 בספר המדות:

  • לבבך: It can mean with your bodily freedom, as well as one's intellect. One should love Hashem by getting to know Him through study, and through prayer.
  • נפשך: Divine perfection, and the love of pleasure, sensation and the like. It means to refrain from sin and temptation and perform physical mitzvot like fasting.
  • מאדך: The might and wealth gifted to us by Hashem, and the aspect in which we seek and pursue wealth. It means to give charity, and avoid sins to do with wealth like theft.

It would be interesting to go through this and taich it with our gemara. This understanding of מאדך does help us understand our gemara a little bit better, I think, as it is more understandable now that a person could be judged favourably for valuing his possessions over his life, when one considers that the possessions we are talking about are the affectionate gifts given to him in great love by Hashem.

You asked about the meaning of מאדך in a comment, and the root of the word is מאד, very. If you would like to see a deep insight about מאדך, and how it is actually a higher form of love than נפשך, to love Hashem with your very, may I recommend the ma'amer Basi Legani, a series of talks by the Chabad Rebbeim, which explains that loving Hashem בכל מאדך is the quintessential "lishma" love, altruistic love. It's not about my heart or my soul, it's about You, Hashem. This helps us understand our mishna in Berachot 9:5, which explains that it's not about what we get from Hashem; even if we get a tiny portion, we should be very very grateful, because it's not about us, it's about Him.

  • 1
    Great answer thanks! Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 15:42

The word in Hebrew is "Nephesh", which is more of a spiritual life force than a soul. It is occasionally used, often in Talmud, to indicate extreme effort—somewhat similar to the English phrase, "put your life into it". The other word in Hebrew is "Me'odekhah", which can also mean strength, but specifically of a physical nature. In certain cases, they can be interchangeable to achieve the same meaning. The Gemara means to clarify the exact difference between these two terms in this context, since the Torah doesn't say things unnecessarily. The word "heart" does not have the shared properties that I listed about the other two.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first answer. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 3:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .