According to the Torah there was a river which flowed out of Eden. Four rivers branched from this river: the Chidekel, the Pishon, the Gichon and the Prat. The commentaries explain that these rivers symbolise our main drives: Chidekel- for power; Pishon- money; Gichon- physical desires; Prat- the pure life following G-d's will.

Now, if you look at a diagram of the human circulatory system you'll notice something very interesting. We can attempt a 'mapping' of the rivers to the main arteries of the body.

The aorta rises from a heart, a strong 'river' carrying freshly oxygenated blood from the left ventricle. This is the first great river from Eden. The first branch off this is the 'Chidekel'. Several centimetres further along this bifurcates and supplies the right arm and the right side of the head. The right arm is associated with power and also the ability to give blessing. The right hemisphere of the brain is associated with spatial awareness- (the boundaries of a nation, territory.)

The next branch rises to the left side of the head. The left hemisphere of the brain is associated with time-based awareness, language and logic- all very important in Jewish thought. This, then, could be the Prat which borders the land of Israel- the 'place' of Torah study.

The third artery to branch off from the aorta supplies the left arm. The left arm is associated with receiving, drawing in. The Pishon is associated with the desire for money- pecuniary gain, gashmius, materiality. Lastly, the aorta continues as the abdominal artery supplying the lower organs of the body. This we can call "Gichon" - associated with physical lusts.

We can contemplate the aorta, this spring of youth emerging from the heart. If the heart is at one with our higher faculties, if we have made true peace between the heart and the mind, the river from the heart will be imbued with divinity, with joy, love and a tremendous energy. This energy has the potential to transform all the rivers and all they have come to mean to us. The G-dliness within the blood can elevate all the organs of the body and bring them to a place of dedication to the highest concepts, the greatest and holiest acts and dreams.

copyright © 2002 gila atwood

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