20 May 2011

Where is the Neshoma

The true, inherent liberation of the Soul does not depend on cutting off from the body but on its unification with G-d. (Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: Understanding the Tanya, p. 114)

The soul fills the body, as G-d fills the world. The soul bears the body, as G-d bears the world. The Soul outlasts the body, as G-d outlasts the world. The soul is one in the body, as G-d is one in the body, as G-d is one in the world. The soul sees and is not seen, as G-d sees and is not seen. The soul is pure in the body, even as G-d is pure in the world…" (Rabbi Simeon Ben Pazi) 2/

The inner life that we experience, and the roots of thought that reach down into the darkness of the subconscious, are features of the life of the soul.

Neshama is the most elevated and purest aspect of soul and it shines at the deepest core of our being. "In my body he has kindled a lamp from his glory," begins a poem by Moses ibn Ezra, referring to the light of the neshama. In the morning prayers it says "G-d, the soul [neshama] you have given me is pure".2/

Someone once asked Rabban Gamliel where G-d could be found. “You’ve asked me something much too abstract,” said Rabban Gamliel; “let me ask you about something that’s very close to you each and every day” he said, “and ask you where it is”. “And what would that be?” the other asked. “The soul, which is with you all the time” Rabban Gamliel offered ... (Shocher Tov 103). 1/

R’ Chaim Voloshin depicts the Nephesh as being expressed (and centered) in our actions, the Ruach in our speech, and the Neshama in our thoughts (Nephesh HaChaim 1:14, 16). 1/

Others portray the Neshama as less than rooted in the body, and as something of a free agent if you will, given that it soars upwards out of the body when we sleep (Zohar 1, p. 53a, 121b; Zohar 2, p. 195b; Zohar 3, p. 25a, etc.; also see Ta’anit 11a) after which it returns to us through the nostrils in the morning and doesn’t return to the body proper until we pray in the morning (Zohar Chadash, Ruth, 90d), or to our belly once we say Viddui (the morning confession) (Zohar 1, p. 98a; also see Berachot 8a).1/

Breishit Rabbah 14:9 states, “She (the soul) has five names; Nephesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, Yechidah. (The first is termed) Nephesh (which) is the blood, as is written “For the blood is the Nephesh” (Deut. 12:23). (The next is termed) Ruach for it rises and descends, as is written “Who knows the Ruach of men that rises on high” (Eccl. 3:21). (The third is termed) Neshama (which) is the disposition, for as people say, ‘His disposition is good’. (The fourth is termed) Chaya for all the limbs die and she lives on in the body. (And the fifth is termed)Yechidah for all the limbs have doubles while she is unique in the body.” (Also see Devarim Rabbah 2:37, Zohar 2:158b; Zohar Chadash 91a, and Sefer Bahir 53.) 2/

The appreciation of one’s Tzelem Elokim “self” leads to an holistic wholeness and inner tranquility. This is known as your “neshama state”. This is your state of homestasis-a state of equilibrium and inner contentment. I call it the neshama state because it is the state of being which is aligned with Hashem. When in this state you are put in the state of “being” that Hashem intended for you as your G-dly state because, while in this state, you are feeling connected to Hashem. This is a state of “daas” - knowledge of G-d - rather than merely belief in G-d. In this state you are experiencing Hashem - you are experiencing your own Tzelem Elokim. This is your closest connection to Hashem - and you feel relaxed, calm, at peace. You feel a sense of shleimus-wholeness-in this state everything is clear-you can do anything. 3/

The Secret Soul of Moshiach 4/

Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Mussar Institute
Calming Anxiety
Kosher Torah essay

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