Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chochma vs. Bina - Practical Manifestations - Introduction

(I found this video of Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern on Google Video)

I am planning to do an introduction followed by a 6 part translation of an unbelievable, eye opening, unpublished Kuntres by Rav Itchie Mayer Morgenstern. I obtained this from my rebbe. The original Hebrew version can be found here. It consists of an amazing explanation of the difference between Chochma (Wisdom) and Bina (Insight), and how those two aspects of the ChaBa”D portion of the Sefiros create many of the major dichotomies in Yiddishkeit. In each of these 6 parts, I will translate the sections of the Kuntres regarding how the distinction between Chochma and Bina are the root of the differences between:

1) Sefardim vs. Ashkenazim,
2) Kabbalah vs. Chassidus,
3) Chassidus vs. the GR”A,
4) Chabad vs. Breslov,
5) Rebbe Nachman vs. the Shpoler Zaide and
6) Rav Chaim Brisker vs. the Chazon Ish.

My rebbe omitted several parts of the Kuntres which delved into Penimius HaTorah more deeply. I will also abstain from translating certain paragraphs when I am unable to truly capture their meaning. I do not feel comfortable doing a literal translation of something if I don’t really understand what it means. In the introduction I will very briefly summarize some background information from my rebbe, and throughout the Kuntres, I will interject some commentary here and there, paraphrasing a few of my rebbe’s comments. As with any translation, the usual disclaimers apply; Any errors in explanation or translation are solely due to my mistakes, and are not to be attributed to the original Kuntres or my rebbe’s explanation.


According to Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, Chochma means the concept of “Hachlalah”. Hachlalah is the idea of generalizing, synthesizing many details into one coherent whole, and creating principals which animate the specific parts. It is the top-down approach, as opposed to the bottom-up approach. Chochma is the overarching principal, not the detail. Chochma is the male side. In the creation of a human being, the father supplies the ingredient necessary to make a whole person. He completes the code that contains the entire principal, the overarching DNA blueprint for the whole person.

He explains that Bina is “Hafrata.” Hafrata means bringing down the klal, the principal, into its specific application. Bina means taking the principal and applying it to each and every detail. It is the bottom-up approach, focusing on each detail and bringing down the klal, the principal, to apply it in all of the various details. In the creation of a human being, Bina is the female side. The male completes the code/blueprint for the whole person. But it is the mother, the female side that applies that code throughout the nine months of gestation to create and form each and every cell, organ and limb.

(This is also explained in my post entitled, How to Listen to Your Mother's Torah)

Quote from Perek 1 of Tanya:

"Behold the intellect of the intellectual soul is that which intellectually understands each thing. It is called Chochma [which stands for] "Koach [the ability to understand] What [something is]." And this ability is brought from the potential to the actual when one contemplates with his intellect to understand a thing to his satisfaction and to deepen it using some idea of Chochma which is understood with his intellect. This is called Bina. And these [Chochma and Bina] are the father and mother which give birth to love of Hashem, [as well as] awe and fear of Him."

Click here to continue on to Part 1 of the translation, which explains how Chochma and Bina are the root of the differences in nature between Sefardim and Ashkenazim.

-Dixie Yid


Anonymous said...

Very insightful! How can I get the missing parts of the hebrew scans?

DixieYid said...

Right now, this is not published and it cannot be published. My friend might be able to scan and e-mail it to me. If so, I'll post the full essay. I appreciate your appretiation of this great teaching!

-Dixie Yid

S. said...

Wow, very interesting. Thanks for posting this video. S.