@AvrohomYitzchok asked me this question to support the assertions for another question: "why-dont-newborns-speak-outright.

What are the sources that the knowledge of a language is a quality of the soul (רוח או נשמה) as opposed to the earthy body or the animal spirit (נפש)?

  • 1
    he.wikisource.org/wiki/… מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם הִשְׁמִיעֲךָ אֶת קֹלוֹ לְיַסְּרֶךָּ וְעַל הָאָרֶץ הֶרְאֲךָ אֶת אִשּׁוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה וּדְבָרָיו שָׁמַעְתָּ מִתּוֹךְ הָאֵשׁ. The Gra explains that kolo min ha'shamayim was for the ruach, here there is only pre-verbal kol. isho ha'gedolah al ha'aretz is for the nephesh, here there is dibbur (words) as well.
    – The GRAPKE
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 0:02
  • @TheGRAPKE Sorry, I don't get it, can you rephrase it for me, please?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 19:11
  • Kol in the context of matan torah is trans-verbal / pre-verbal sound. This was received by the ruach (higher level of the neshama). Dibbur is comprised of devarim, words. This was received by the nephesh (lower level of the neshama). According to the Gr"a. Which indicates that language and words are a function of the nephesh.
    – The GRAPKE
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 23:20
  • @TheGRAPKE Isn't Nefesh called Behemis, namely possessed by all animals? Anyway, does it come from above or from below, that's the question.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 22, 2020 at 19:16
  • Chassisim (e.g. Chabad) call the nephesh - behamis. This is a recent innovation and the first reference to this occurs during the 1700's. At any rate, the nephesh is from the lower spheres, hence the communication to the nephesh is via ve'al ha'aretz her'achah es esho ha'gedolah.
    – The GRAPKE
    Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


Genesis 2:7: “The L-rd G-d formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a nefesh chayah.” Onkelos translates ruach m’mal’la to mean “one with the power of speech,” denoting a certain knowledge of language.

  • So this "רח ממללא" was grown-up - speaking right away, right?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 6:53
  • @AlBerko Yes. According to Genesis, Adam was created as an adult, pre-formed. He had the power of speech that G-d gave when it says: “[G-d] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a nefesh chayah (ruach m’mal’la-the power of speech) (Onkelos).
    – Turk Hill
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 14:33

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