Parshat Ve'etchanan by: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in the Holy Land
Tefilin and the Lobes of the Brain
According to science, there are four main lobes of the cerebrum-brain: the occipital lobe, the temporal lobe, the parietal lobe, and the frontal lobe. The Kabbalists talk about four aspects that parallel the four letters of the Tetragrammaton: sight, hearing, smell, and speech – in this order respectively for the four letters. Therefore, here we would like to make a parallel, an initial glimpse into what can be elaborated on much more, between these letters according to the Kabbalah and the lobes of the brain. The occipital lobe seems to parallel the aspect of sight and the first letter “yod” since this lobe is associated with sight as it receives messages from the eyes and controls eye movements.
The temporal lobes are found behind each ear. They receive messages from the ears so that one can recognize sound and messages. This part of the brain also recognizes speech and is how one understands what someone says to one. According to the Kabbalists both the ears/hearing and the aspect of understanding – “bina” – are associated with the first “heh” of the Tetragrammaton.
The parietal lobe gives one a sense of ‘me’/’self’. It figures out the messages one receives from the five senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste. This part of the brain tells one what is part of the body and what is part of the outside world. In general, the parietal lobe is a major interpreter of the sensory world around the body. In fact, the parietal lobe is a primary sensory area, which means that it is the starting point of sensory processing within the brain. Although this lobe processes all the senses, the fact that it includes the sense of smell, associated, according to the Kabbalists, with the letter “vav” of Hashem’s Name, may hint that this lobe parallels this letter of the Name. Moreover, the letter “vav” is a connecting letter, and the parietal lobe connects one to the outside world through interpreting and processing, into one’s self, the many senses it is connected to.
The frontal lobe governs primarily two aspects: action and personality/character. This part of the brain allows speech. As mentioned above, speech corresponds, according to the Kabbalists, to the last “heh” of the Name. This letter also signifies the World of Action according to the Kabbalah, a matter that fits perfectly with this lobe of the brain governing action.
The Kabbalah also ties a deep connection between the final “heh,” associated with the “lowest” Kabbalistic sefira of “malchut” and what is called by the Kabbalists “the dash/crown/”kotz” of the yod” in this Name, associated with the highest Kabbalistic sefira called “keter.” This connection is hinted in the phrase (mentioned in Megilat Ester) “Keter Malchut,” literally meaning “the Crown of Royalty.” (A proper discussion of this is outside the scope of this piece). However, “keter” in contrast to the action-oriented “malchut” is very abstract and associated with will, personality, and in-depth thought. This may explain why part of the frontal lobe is responsible for action-oriented matters, while the other part of this lobe, named the Prefrontal cortex, is responsible for internal, purposeful mental action, commonly called reasoning or Prefrontal Synthesis, allowing us to solve problems, to do most of our learning, to organize and plan. The Head-Tefilin, mentioned in this Parsha, is placed at the height of this Prefrontal cortex. The Tefilin are also called a “keter/crown,” and this fits perfectly with our identification of this Prefrontal cortex as being associated with the “keter/crown” sefira.
According to the Kabbalists, the “keter/crown” sefira/”kotz of the yod” is the source of all the four aspects/letters of the Tetragrammaton that emanate from it. In Hebron, David, the prototype of Mashiach, received his kingship – “Keter Malchut” – for the first time. Hebron is also called Kiryat Arba – “City of the Four” – which hints to the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, that emanate from this “Keter Malchut.” Therefore, by holding steadfast to Hebron may we also merit to see the Crown of Mashiach Son of David come speedily in our Redemption.
“The statistics from the [Six Day] War are amazing. For every Israeli who perished in the conflict, 25 of the enemy died. For every Israeli prisoner of war, there were over 394 Arab POWs. For every Israeli plane that was downed, more than 11 Arab planes were lost. The Arabs called the conflict an-Naksah, or “The Setback.” That is some setback! The Israelis called it the “Six-Day War”—not only to identify the miraculously short length of the war but also to evoke the six days of creation.“ C. Eames