Counting Toward Asarah BiTevet – Meet Your Soul
We have already studied Isaiah’s teaching, “Why, when we fasted, did You not see? When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?” Because on your fast day You see to your business And oppress all your laborers (58:3 – sefaria.org)!” Please see, “Fasting Training Exercises,” and, “It Matters To God.”
Let’s explore how the Yesod Morah of Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra understands this verse and applies it as a practical lesson we can use when fasting, whichever form of fasting ( Fasting 1 , Fasting 2) we use (Fasting From Negativity, Quarantine As Fasting, ), on the Tenth of Tevet:
The Ibn Ezra speaks of fasting as a way to Find My Soul:
“When God enlarges your territory, as He has promised you, and you say, ‘I shall eat some meat,’ for you have the urge (nafshecha) to eat meat, you may eat meat whenever you wish (Devarim 12:20).”
“His life-breath (vinafsho) despises bread (Job 33:20).”
“If any of the flesh of his sacrifice of well-being is eaten on the third day, it shall not be acceptable; it shall not count for him who offered it. It is an offensive thing, and the person (vihanefesh) who eats of it shall bear his guilt (Vayikra 7:18).”
“And I, when they were ill, my garment was sackcloth, I afflicted myself (nafshi) with fasting (Psalms 35:12).”
In all these verse, the soul – Nefesh is used to describe physical experiences:
- “You have the Nefesh to eat meat.”
- “His Nefesh despises bread.”
- “The Nefesh who eats.”
- “I afflicted my Nefesh with fasting.”
There are Mitzvot designed to help us refine the soul by withdrawing from the physical and focus on the spiritual, developing necessary awareness that certain urges are physical and not from the Soul – Nefesh.
As one defines which drives are physical and not from the Soul – Nefesh the person can develop greater awareness of the Soul and hear her messages guiding him closer to the Creator.