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Food for the Soul

“One who guards his mouth and tongue, guards his soul from tribulations”
(Mishlei 21:23).

“Which man desires life, who loves days of seeing good? Guard your tongue
from evil and your lips from speaking deceit…” (Tehillim 34:13-14).

Why do the above verses single out shmiras haloshon, guarding one’s tongue,
as the key to a good life in both worlds?

The human body is composed of 248 organs and 365 sinews. Corresponding to
this are the 248 spiritual organs and 365 spiritual sinews of the soul. As
Scripture states: “You clothe me with skin and flesh, cover me with bones
and sinews” (Iyov 10:11). The various parts of the body are referred to as
“clothing” and “covering” for they clothe and cover the soul within man.
Each physical organ corresponds to a specific aspect of the soul.

Hashem has given us 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments
which relate to the particular parts of the body with which they are
performed.1 By performing a given mitzvah through a given organ, a
spiritual light comes to rest upon the corresponding component of the soul;
it is from this light that this component draws eternal vitality.

Thus, when a person fulfills all the Torah’s commandments, he transforms
himself into an adam hashaleim, man of spiritual perfection, whose every
fiber is sanctified unto Hashem.

The converse is true as well. If a person commits a transgression and does
not repent for it, then the component of the soul which corresponds to that
prohibition will suffer accordingly.

1. See opening introduction to Sefer Chareidim.

Note: The idea that the human body is composed of 248 organs and 365 sinews
is not meant to contradict established medical understanding, but to make a
homeletical point.

  


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