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Does the human nefesh (nefesh haAdam) have 613 spiritual organs? Tanya CH.4 says that a soul has 613 organs like the "organs of the King". I'm assuming that since man is made in the image of G-d, then it's describing the organs of a nefesh haAdam. Is this describing the nefesh haAdam as having 613 organs?

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    related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10406/759 – Double AA Jan 26 '15 at 14:50
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    see beginning of shaarei kedusha by Rav Chaim Vital zt'l. fully explained there – user813801 Jan 26 '15 at 16:53
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    What are the "these" in your second sentence? If they're the 613 spiritual organs (which is the way your question reads), then apparently Tanya is a source for their being 613 spiritual organs, and an answer to your question. – msh210 Jan 27 '15 at 3:24
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    To sum up, your question says: "Is X true? Y says it is true. Please source your answers." Isn't your answer already in the question???? – Double AA Jan 27 '15 at 6:50
  • Ah, I see what your all's confusion is. My source and only source is Tanya. I'm trying to see if this concept of 613 organs are mentioned somewhere else and if it's for the nefesh haAdam. From just reading Tanya, it sounds made up and is a concept I've never heard before. – EhevuTov Jan 27 '15 at 7:12
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There are indeed several sources among the works of Chassidus and later kabbalistic works which describe the soul as being a spiritual counter-shape to the shape of the physical body. In other words, just as the physical body has 613 parts, so does the soul. (I believe that this idea is based on the Zohar, Beraishis 9a but I won't go into details)

For example, the Me'or V'Shemesh (Parshas Bechukosai) quotes this as a teaching that he had received:

קבלנו על הנשמה שיש לה צורה והיא כצורת אדם זכר לזכר ונקבה לנקבה

And, in a fascinating application of this idea, the Pardes Yosef says that a person whose limb was cut off can still pray for his 248 limbs, for this reason:

נסתפק במי שחתך לו הרופא אבר רחמנא לצלן, אם יכול לומר בתפילתו רמ״ח אברים שלי... אין קפידא, דאע״פ שלא נשאר לו רק רמ״ז, מכל מקום אברים הרוחניים של הנשמה הם בשלמות כידוע דגם בנשמה יש אברים וגידים (פרשת משפטים קט״ז)

Thus, if we were discussing another Chassidic thinker I would answer this question in the positive. HOWEVER, because you're asking specifically about the Tanya, this is probably incorrect, because the Rebbe also writes in that same book (Liutei Amarim 51):

אין שינוי קבלת הכחות והחיות שבאברי הגוף מן הנשמה מצד עצמה ומהותה שיהיה מהותה ועצמותה מתחלק לרמ"ח חלקים שונים, מתלבשים ברמ"ח מקומות כפי ציור חלקי מקומות אברי הגוף, שלפי זה נמצא עצמותה ומהותה מצויר בציור גשמי ודמות ותבנית כתבנית הגוף חס ושלום, אלא כולה עצם אחד רוחני פשוט ומופשט מכל ציור גשמי ומבחינה וגדר מקום ומדה וגבול גשמי מצד מהותה ועצמותה

In other words, the Baal HaTanya doesn't seem to believe that the soul has parts. Instead, what he probably means (in chapter 4) is that the soul has 613 aspects or something like that.

  • I think Baal haTanya might agree actually. See Likkutei Torah, Ekev 13b; 14a. My Hebrew isn't good enough to translate, but something about adam(man) having 248 limbs and 365 sinews. – EhevuTov Feb 22 '15 at 5:10
  • @EhevuTov can you provide a link? He might just be referring to the physical body – הנער הזה Feb 22 '15 at 5:39
  • I don't know of an online version, sorry. – EhevuTov Feb 22 '15 at 5:44
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According to this footnote at chabad.org:

They are not counted according to scientific methods. Rather, the number is based upon which limbs would be given an important place in Jewish law. They are listed in Encyclopedia Talmudit (Hebrew), vol. 1, pp. 114ff.

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    Could you provide the actual text so we'll have an answer? I don't have the work cited you mentioned. – EhevuTov Jan 27 '15 at 19:16
  • @EhevuTov Which, the webpage, or the Encyclopedia Talmudit? ...I have a copy of the Encyclopedia, if that helps you. – Shokhet Jan 27 '15 at 19:53
  • @Shokhet, yes what does the actual citation say. I know of the citations within Lessons of Tanya, but I was wanting to know the actual quotes from the citations, which is the text of Encyclopedia Talmudit (Hebrew), vol. 1, pp. 114ff. If you could provide the text from the Encyclopedia Talmudit, I'd appreciate it please :-) – EhevuTov Jan 27 '15 at 21:39
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    @EhevuTov Page 114 in my (1995) version of the Encyclopedia is discussing the prohibition of אוב, and (as far as I could tell) says nothing about a number of limbs. The footnotes don't either seem to list any number of limbs. Sorry :( – Shokhet Jan 29 '15 at 3:51

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