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The Mind-Heart-Body Connection

The Mind-Heart-Body Connection



I was looking through my closet at my parents' place and found my old pair of Tefillin. I haven't worn them since we left school. I know that we put these black boxes on our head and our arm next to our heart, but other than that, I have no idea what they are about. Do you have an explanation for what Tefillin are?


Our personality has three layers to it - intellect, emotion and action; what we think, what we feel and what we do.

Intellect: My opinions on issues, philosophies on life and attitudes to myself and others.

Emotion: My moods, desires and passions; what I love and what I hate, what I am scared of and what attracts me.

Action: Not my beliefs or feelings, but what I actually do, how I live my life, and how I spend my time and energy.

Ideally, these three faculties should be in synch. My beliefs and ideals should direct my passions and ambitions, which should in turn be translated into my lifestyle. But so often we find this is not the case. What I know is right doesn't always feel right, and what I feel like doing is not necessarily what I do.

- I know I should go and help my mother bring in the shopping, but I feel like staying on the couch eating chips. Then I hear my phone ring, and jump up to answer it.

- I know I shouldn't lie to cover up my mistakes, and I feel guilty about it, but I do it anyway.

- My mind tells me that I am in a damaging relationship, but my heart is too scared to leave. I act as if everything's fine.

One of the greatest challenges in life is to try to overcome this mind-heart-body disconnect - to develop the right attitude in the mind, positive desires in the heart and to then live up to it and do the right thing. This isn't easy.

That's where Tefillin come in. The Tefillin help to achieve a spiritual alignment of mind, heart and body; uniting our thoughts, feelings and actions towards a power higher than all three.

These black boxes are holy objects, tiny treasure chests charged with immense divine power. We place one box on the head - the home of intellect, with its straps dangling down over the heart - the seat of emotion. Then the other box rests on the forearm next to the heart, with its straps wrapped around the arm and hand - the tools of action.

The head Tefillin binds our minds to the divine will, that we should know what's right and wrong. The straps dangle down so that this knowledge should flow into our hearts and become a passion and excitement for goodness. And the passion resting in our hearts should in turn be translated into action, that we live a life of meaning and purpose, based on clear morals and pure passions.

Could you do with some mind-heart-body alignment? I need it every day...

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
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Tarek via June 11, 2008

Your not getting what im saying. I said different not better. Everyone is different not necessarily better or worse. What I am saying is that some will be blessed in some ways others in other ways.

The Jewish faith and race has made much impact on the world, bringing about monotheism being the largest impact, if they had never had faith in one G-d think of the world today! we would still think that the concept of one G-d was odd and think of the domino affect of that pivotal movement in history.

I said not that Jews were better anywhere in my response I said they believe that they have the burden to do good. For the planet take another look at what Israel is doing with electric cars and solar fields etc, more than America is doing ill tell you that. They are the only country that has actually had an increase in trees since their beginning Reply

LaNita Noah Los Angeles, CA June 11, 2008

Different, not on the same plane?... How does that work?
We are all born on different planes, what does that mean?
I don't agree that Jews are better than other people, just because you were born in a certain part of the world, does not make you better.
What makes a person better, is only the knowledge they've acquired, and the people they have helped. Hopefully helping the planet too.
But, I don't see a lot of Jewish people trying to help anyone, or the planet, but themselves.
What makes you think that everyone is not equal by being human...?
Where is the logic in that? Reply

Tarek via June 8, 2008

Well I think it depends with what intention that your boss has. He could come into the office touting his Tefillin or he may wear it with true Kavanah and start to change

I think generally there is no elitism in most communities of Jews, as many misunderstand Jews are chosen to uphold the laws of the Torah, and they believe that in doing that many believe that they have the responsibility to help and change the world.

All are born different not on the same plane, and as life progresses certain people do much better things for the world, everyone is not equal by being human, there are many differences better and worse.

Jews are different, as proved by history, being the first ever to believe in one G-d and have survived despite persecution by almost every group to date, while giant republics fall their faith survived. As Mark Twain said "All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains." and many other gentiles and un-religious people have quoted the like. Reply

LaNita Noah Los Angeles, CA June 6, 2008

I see So, wearing the tefillin during prayer helps to connect the mind, body, and spirit.
That's cool.
What if some people still aren't aware of things? Like, I had a boss who thinks he's always right. You really can't convince him that he is wrong. He thinks of all the ways he could do something, that he'd be right.
Do you think doning the tefillin makes him feel like he is better than people who don't?

And is it true that Jews think that they are better than everyone else?
Some of them act like they're from another planet.
But in reality no one person is better than another. Reply

Anonymous via June 21, 2007

Wow, that is a great way to explain it. I agree with this actually, I know that I do not have as much will to act and passion about things as women. Take my dad for example, he never does work at home, only at work. My mom works at her job than comes home and does dinner and cleans. Just shows how much her passion for her family converts into action while I would have to be told to do chores. My cousin innately does daily exercise, while I have to get 'in the zone' and inspired to do it.

Amazing insight Rabbi Moss Reply

Rabbi Moss April 29, 2007

Author's Response: You are absolutely right. Women need to align their minds, hearts and bodies just as much as men do. But for some reason, they are better at this than men are. As dangerous as it is these days to state the obvious, men and women are different.

If I may take you as an example. You read my article explaining Tefillin, and processed the concept in your mind. You then took the idea to heart, applied it to yourself, and objected to the idea that it doesn't apply to women. This then led you to take action: you took to the keyboard and wrote a response. What a beautiful illustration of mind-heart-body alignment!

You're not alone. You were one of several women who responded to me privately, all with the same question. And not one man responded asking why men should need to put on Tefillin and women not. That's exactly why they do need Tefillin. It is natural for a woman to read or see something, take it personally, and react to it. But for a man, it is a great effort to take something abstract and make it real. He needs concrete, tangible tools to aid the procession from mind to heart to body.

I have tested this theory. In lectures to audiences comprising of men and women, I have said things like, "Men struggle to apply ideas to themselves; women can't help taking things personally." The men either smirk or show no reaction. The women object passionately to such a rash generalization. I just smile. Point proven.

These differences need not be seen only as weaknesses; they are our strengths also. The male removedness helps give perspective. The female involvedness introduces passion. When passion and perspective get together, you're in for an exciting ride...

Lynda April 29, 2007

What about us? I just finished reading your article and it makes a lot of sense. I like the idea of aligning mind-heart-body. But then why don't women wear Tefillin too? Don't we also need to align our thoughts, feelings and actions?

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