Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mind over Matter

The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the body is likened to an animal which should be under the command of the mind, which is the real essence of the person. This is one reason why we do semichah on sacrifices. We lean on them with our entire strength to show that the animalistic body was formed to support our intellect, nothing more.
Sadly, some people are likened to animals as Rashi explains in Yonah. Hashem tells Yonah why Ninveh was spared, 'ואני לא אחוס על נינוה העיר הגדולה אשר יש בה...ובהמה רבה'--'Shall I not have pity on Ninveh, the great city which has in it...many beasts?' Rashi explains that the “many beasts” of Ninveh are people who are like animals since they do not recognize Hashem who created them.
The Alter of Kelm, zt”l, once said, “Everything can be divided into four categories: inanimate, plant, animal, and human. When plant life decomposes, it reverts to inanimate substance and the same is true of the other categories. Similar to physical death, when a human being lowers himself and acts without the guidance of his mind, for that moment he lets go of his human character and falls into an animal state. Even when a person is alone he should be ashamed of such a debasement of his higher self.
“One may wonder, then, why people are not ashamed to act in ways that are surely the opposite of intelligent! The answer is that since so many comport themselves this way, before whom should one feel embarrassed? Other people who also act no better than animals?”

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