Corpus Christi: The Body, The Bread, The Church, The Word and the Law
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God.” — Quote by Jesus from Matthew 4:4 in response to temptation by the devil
What is a body? I’m sick as I’m writing this on Corpus Christi, so it’s a question I can’t help but ponder as I sit here, Bible to the right of me and Chaim Kramer’s “Anatomy of the Soul” to my left. Really, I should say it’s Rebbe Nachman’s “Anatomy of the Soul” since it’s mostly excerpts from and commentary on his much larger work: The Likutey Moharan. For those of you who don’t know, Reb Nachman, otherwise known as Nachmanides or the Ramban (not to be confused with Maimonides, the Rambam) was responsible for reviving the Jewish hasidic movement by combining deep Torah (first five books of the bible) learning with Kabbalah (Jewish esoteric mysticism revolving mainly around meditating on the Torah and its teachings) and emphasizing hitbodedut (a kind of biblical meditation technique involving unstructured conversational prayer not unlike Catholic Mental Prayer). Anatomy of the Soul goes over the many intricate connections between biblical teachings and the human body; alongside observations made by Jewish biblical scholars in their analysis of those connections.
In the Zohar (a core text of Jewish Kabbalah) it is written that the 613 commandments of the bible reflect the body of a man with 248 positive or active commandments (thou shalts) corresponding to 248 limbs and organs of the body and the remaining 365 passive or negative commandments (thou shalt nots) mirroring the 365 nerves and sinews. Does the body actually have 248 parts and 365 nerves and sinews? I have no idea. that count seems a little low and I’m sure there’s quite a bit of variability, but that’s beside the point. I think that the point is best put forward in Hebrews:
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” — Hebrews 4:12
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of…