You Clothed Me in Skin and Flesh

by tillerofthesoil

“The Rabbis taught: The kidneys advise [Psalms 7:10; Proverbs 23:16], the heart considers [Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 2:2, 10], the tongue articulates, the mouth finishes [Proverbs 37:30], the esophagus brings in all kinds of food, the windpipe gives sound, the lungs absorb all kinds of fluids, the liver causes anger, the gallbladder secretes a drop into it and calms it, the spleen laughs, the gizzard grinds, the stomach [causes] sleep, the nose [causes] wakefulness” (BT Berakhot 61a).

“Ten things serve הַנֶּפֶשׁ (ha-nefesh), the person: The esophagus for food, the windpipe for sound, the liver for anger, the lungs for drink, the gizzard to grind, the spleen for laughter, the stomach for sleep, the gallbladder for jealousy, the kidneys for thoughts, while the heart [the seat of intelligence] finishes. Now ha-nefesh, the life-breath, is above them all. The blessed Holy One says, ‘I made you to be above them all but you go out and rob, do violence, and offend!” (Vayiqra Rabbah 4:4).  

“Twelve simple [letters]: הו זח טי לנ סע צק (he vav zayin ḥet tet yod, lamed nun samekh ‘ayin tsadi qof). He engraved them, He transposed them, He hewed them, He weighed them and permuted [or: exchanged] them, and fashioned with them the constellations, the months, and the conductors: two revelers, two babblers, two that are fearsome [alt., two advisors] and two that are gleeful. They are the internal organs, and the two hands and feet. He made them a sort of rivalry, arranging them in battle [array], One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14)….

1 Three hate and these are they: the tongue, the liver, and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears, and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 Three are in man’s control: the feet, the hands, and the mouth.

6 Three are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears, and his nostrils [on the voluntary and involuntary organs, see Bereshit Rabbah 67:3].

7 Three are bad tidings for the ear: cursing, blasphemy, and an evil rumor [or: bad news, see Jeremiah 49:23; Psalms 112:7].

8 Three are good tidings for the ear: blessing, a good report [or: good news, see Proverbs 25:25], and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye, and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks more than enough.

12 Three are good for the tongue: silence, holding the tongue, and speaking truth [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §5; M Avot 1:17]” (Sefer Yetsirah §§48a [MS A], 63).

“When the human was created, what is written? You clothed me in skin and flesh (Job 10:11). What then is the human if not skin and flesh, and bones and sinews? But surely the human being is nothing but soul! And these that we have mentioned—skin, flesh, bones, and sinews are all merely a garment; they are a person’s clothing not the human. And when a person departs, he is stripped of those garments that he is wearing” (Zohar 2:75b–76a).