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Talmud (Brachos 61b) says that the techul [spleen] is שוחק. Looking for an explanation of what the connection between the spleen and laughter is.

Also, Zohar chelek 3, page 226b connects black bile with Lilith and the spleen and depression. ובמרה שחורה, לילית, שבתי, שולטנותא בטחול, דאיהו עציבו, שאול תחתית, עניותא וחשוכא בכיה והספדא ורעבון:

Looking for a source to explain the connection between the spleen and Lilith

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The Pri Yitzchok puts it succinctly:

הטחול. מקרר חום רתיחת הקרביים ומגרה השחוק לשמח הגוף

The Spleen - It cools the heat of the boiling bowels/gut and stimulates laughter to make the body happy.

As far as the connection to Lilis...

Lilis is often seen as the symbol of immorality. (Aside from preying on children) she is the one who elicits seminal emissions and the like. E.g. refer to Shabbos 151b:

אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא: אָסוּר לִישַׁן בַּבַּיִת יְחִידִי, וְכׇל הַיָּשֵׁן בַּבַּיִת יְחִידִי — אֹחַזְתּוֹ לִילִית

Rabbi Ḥanina said: It is prohibited to sleep alone in a house, and anyone who sleeps alone in a house will be seized by the evil spirit Lilith.

Also refer to the Ohr HaChaim HaKodosh on Bereishis 49:11.

With this in mind, note the Likutei Moharan here:

שֶׁל הִרְהוּרֵי זְנוּת שֶׁבָּא לָאָדָם – שֶׁיֹּאמַר "שְׁמַע" וּ"בָרוּךְ שֵׁם". כִּי תַּאֲוַת נִאוּף הִיא בָּאָה מֵעֲכִירַת דָּמִים, הַיְנוּ מִטְּחוֹל, שֶׁהִיא לִילִית, שֶׁהִיא שִׁפְחָה בִּישָׁא, אִמָּא דְּעֵרֶב רַב, שֶׁהִיא מַלְכוּת הָרְשָׁעָה

This is because the desire for adultery comes from a turbidity of the blood—i.e., from the spleen, which is Lilit, the evil maidservant, the mother of the mixed multitude, who is the Kingdom of Evil.

The Kav HaYashar 93:2 adds:

וְהָעִנְיָן הוּא, שֶׁה' יִתְבָּרַךְ בָּרָא בָּאָדָם לֵב וְכָבֵד וּטְחוֹל: הַלֵּב הוּא לְמַעְלָה, וְהַכָּבֵד — מִתַּחְתָּיו בָּאֶמְצַע מִצַּד יָמִין, וְהַטְּחוֹל מִתַּחְתָּיו מִצַּד שְׂמֹאל. הַכָּבֵד הוּא מְרַמֵּז עַל שֹׁרֶשׁ שֶׁל עֵשָׂו הַנִּקְרָא 'אֱדוֹם', לְפִי שֶׁהַכָּבֵד כֻּלּוֹ דָּם, וְלָכֵן נִקְרָא עֵשָׂו 'אֱדוֹם', וְתַבְשִׁילוֹ אָדֹם, וְהַשַּׂר שֶׁלּוֹ הוּא אָדֹם, וְכֻלּוֹ דִּין. וְהַטְּחוֹל מְרַמֵּז עַל לִילִית הָרְשָׁעָה, וְהַלֵּב מְרַמֵּז עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, עַם קָדוֹשׁ, כִּי קְדוֹשִׁים הֵם לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם, וְעַל כֵּן לֹא נָטַל כָּל כָּךְ דָּמִים, כִּי אִם הַבָּרוּר וְהַזַּךְ וְהַטָּהוֹר וּמַבְחִין בֵּין דָּם לְדָם, בֵּין דַּם נִדָּה לְדָם טָהוֹר. מַה שֶּׁאֵין כָּךְ הַכָּבֵד — שׁוֹאֵב לְגַבֵּיהּ כָּל דָּם טָמֵא, וְאֵינוֹ מַבְחִין בֵּין דָּם לְדָם. וְהַכָּבֵד הוּא תָּמִיד בְּכַעַס, וְעַל כֵּן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה: כָּל הַכּוֹעֵס, כְּאִלּוּ עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. כִּי כְּבָר כָּתַבְתִּי, כִּי הַכַּעַס הוּא מִצַּד הַכָּבֵד, כִּי הוּא כֹּחַ שֶׁל סַמָּאֵל, שֶׁנִּקְרָא 'אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים', וְהַטְּחוֹל הוּא מִצַּד לִילִית, שֶׁדַּרְכָּהּ לְהִתְרָאוֹת לִבְנֵי אָדָם בַּלַּיְלָה בַּחֲלוֹם וּבְהָקִיץ כִּדְמוּת אִשָּׁה, עַד שֶׁגּוֹרֶמֶת שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ זֶרַע לְבַטָּלָה, וְלָכֵן הַטְּחוֹל שׂוֹחֵק

The idea behind this is that Hashem created the human being with a heart, a liver and a spleen. The heart is in the upper part of the body and towards the middle, the liver is below it and to the right while the spleen is below and to the left. The liver symbolizes Eisav’s spiritual source, which is called “Edom” because the liver is entirely saturated with blood [dam]. For this reason Eisav himself is also referred to as Edom. Moreover, his food was red [adom], his guardian angel is Adom and his character is permeated with the attribute of judgment. The spleen symbolizes the wicked Lilis and the heart symbolizes the holy people Israel who are holy to their God. For this reason the heart receives only the most refined and pure portion of the blood, distinguishing between one type of blood and another, that is, between menstrual blood and blood that is pure. The liver, by contrast, draws towards it all the impure blood and makes no difference between one type and another. The liver is always in a state of anger. Therefore the Sages have said (Zohar, 1:27b; Part 3:179a) that whoever becomes angry is deemed as if he worshipped idols. For I have already noted (Chapter 68) that anger derives from the liver and that it represents the influence of the Samech Mem (SME”L) who is referred to as, “other gods.” The spleen represents the influence of the Lilis, whose strategy is to appear to a man at night in a dream and in the daytime in the form of a woman until she succeeds in causing him to spill his seed. For this reason the spleen is also the source of laughter (Berachos 61b).

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    Thank you! really helpful
    – user31723
    Mar 27, 2023 at 0:56
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Intriguing question! After doing some research I found that this topic is really connected to Purim (but for that you can look at the links posted below :)

Although there is a lot to discuss, I will summarize the basic idea I see people bring up (in the links posted below) and as well as add some of my own explanations within:

The spleens (טחול) function is to clean and remove old or damaged blood red and white cells from our body. It does this by using something called macrophages which are white blood cells which destroy the unhealthy red blood cells into nothingness. Based on this, the idea that I saw a lot of people say is that שחוק is a lashon of שחיקת סממנים, like in the pasuk וְשָֽׁחַקְתָּ֣ מִמֶּ֘נָּה֮ הָדֵק֒, "Beat some of it into powder.” And what is this lashon exactly? It means, any sort of פירור (crumbs), to take something that is one, and break it into tiny and thin pieces, that is basically שחיקת סממנים. This is the idea in Pesachim 21a of מפרר וזורה לרוח, meaning “crumble the chametz and throw it into the wind or cast it into the sea,” or like we say in Bitul chametz וליהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא, that “it should be hefker and dust of the land.” So this means that when I שחוק something, I crumble or break it up until I nullify it. Thus when we put both words and ideas together it means, the spleen destroys/beats/breaks.

Now the Gemera in Brachot 31a says that אסור לאדם שימלא פיו שחוק בעולם הזה, one is not allowed to fill up his mouth with laughter in this world. This refers to שחוק הכסיל, which the Pardes Rimonim 23:9:11 (written by the Ramak) says that שחוק הכסיל refers to טְחוֹל שׂוֹחֵק as well. How so? There are two types of שׂוֹחֵק: One is שחוק הכסיל which is laughter of the foolish, and the second one is שחוק הצדיקים (which we won't focus on now). שחוק הכסיל is a power referred to as ליצנות, in all ליצנות (craziness or funniness) the one laughing is laughing (most of the time) because there is no reality of it being מקיום (existing in reality). A great line I saw in the article (which could be argued about) said, ליצנות מהדבר, זה השחוק ופירור של הדבר, היא אי-נתינת קיום של הדבר, meaning, “the funny thing of the matter, is the destroying and crumbling of the matter, it is making the matter not exist or in reality.” This means that when one laughs and finds something funny, most of the time one laughs because the person saying something “funny” is describing a reality which does not exist, so in other words when one says something funny he is destroying the reality.

How does this connect to Lilit? In the Pardes Rimonim (ibid) he says, כן ביאר הרשב"י ע"ה בר"מ (פנחס דף רמ"ד.) וז"ל מארת חסר ו' ודא לילית דאיהי ממנא דההוא עושק ואיהי איקרי טחול ואיהי אזלת וחייכת בינוקא ולבתר עבדת בהו רוגזא ודמעא למבכי עלייהו. Which means: “Rebbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Zohar Pinchas 244a that the word מארת is missing a vav (the pasuk he refers to I think is in Beresheit 1:14 when HaShem is creating the luminaries, their is a missing vav and it should have said מאורת). This is lilit which from her came the oppression (pain) and she is called טחול (spleen). She goes and harms children and then children cry because of it (as Rashi says on Wednesdays this happens). Maybe based on this we can say she is called spleen because although the spleen destroys which is good for our body (as explained above), Lilit does a type of destruction which is not beneficial for anyone, and actually harms children. (I hope this all makes sense). Here are the links I was referring to throughout, enjoy :) https://www.dirshu.co.il/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/בלבבי.עלון_207_פרשת_האזינו_תשפב.pdf https://bilvavi.net/shiur/דעאתשמחתך-001-חודשאדרשחוק

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  • Beautiful stuff Avishai! If I may add with this the המשך of the שיר המעלות. since (שיר המעלות בשוב ד' את שיבת ציון) היינו כחולמים, when we return from exile it will feel like the whole life was like a dream (the מפרשים explain that at that time of redemption we will see that all of our suffering was just in our mind in that moment and it wasn't really anything true with a קיום ), אז ימלא שחוק פינו like you explained we can laugh at our past nightmares that it was nothing of substance.. Mar 26, 2023 at 13:40
  • Thanks shayachagigah! This is a great ראיה for the answer Mar 26, 2023 at 16:58
  • Thank you! very helpful
    – user31723
    Mar 27, 2023 at 0:55

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