Can the contrasting views of non-Jewish soul from Maimonides and from Kabbalah be reconciled?

Maimonides is quite explicit that all human beings have the potential for a G-dly soul, which is manifest in proportion to his intellectual apprehension of G-d (see here, starting at page 15). His arguments have, at least superficially, the appearance of common sense. G-d "breathed" a G-dly soul into Adam, the ancestor of all man. Free will is the product of the interplay between the G-dly and animal souls, and the Torah requires non-Jews to have free will, otherwise the concepts of non-Jew reward and punishment make zero sense.

On the other hand, the vast majority of Kabbalists argue that only Jews have a G-dly soul. However, even from my little understanding of Kabbalah, it is explicitly clear that the G-dly soul begins as a point within the animal soul. In order to be entirely manifest, in each of its five "levels", it must be developed through proper action, with each completed "level" containing the beginning point for the next. Thus the initial point is expanded into a full Nefesh, and the new point within that completed Nefesh is expanded to a full Ruach, etc.. (see Introduction to the Book of the Zohar by the Baal HaShulam).

Can it be argued (or are we forced to argue) that, while Maimonides discusses the potential for G-dly souls, the Kabbalists are discussing the actuality: that (in their time anyway) most non-Jews had done zero work building their G-dly soul up from its infinitesimal point, and therefore can be considered as having no G-dly soul? And if not, how do Kabbalists counter Maimonides' very sound justifications for the Jewish and non-Jewish equivalence in soul potential?

  • Maimonides was not a kabbalist, and did not use kabbalistic frameworks. Kabbalists sometimes agree with him and sometimes don't. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
    – N.T.
    Jun 9, 2022 at 8:50
  • 1
    @N.T. I realize that, but pointing out that difference of perspective in no way addresses the problem, particularly since many Kabbalists of the past 200 years consider non-Jewish knowledge of Kabbalah to be a prerequisite for the coming of Moshiach. How this can be when Kabbalah obviously concerns 613 commandments, and only applies to those with a G-dly soul, isn't particularly clear
    – John
    Jun 9, 2022 at 10:51
  • Which Kabbalists are you referring to? That doesn't make sense, unless you mean Chabad.
    – N.T.
    Jun 9, 2022 at 18:04
  • Chabad generally teaches this obviously, as far as my knowledge of Chabad goes. But also, Rabbi Eliezer in the Mishnah interprets Tzefaniah 3:9 to mean all the nations will convert (from self gain) and Rashi on that Gemara, Avodah Zarah 24a (although I have not been able to confirm this, not being able to read Hebrew) agrees all of G-d's servants will serve Him with the same mizvot. Although Maimonides interprets this quite differently. If there's no distinction between G-d's servants, per Rashi, all will be learning Moshiach's Torah (although this conversion could be a post-requisite).
    – John
    Jun 10, 2022 at 3:31
  • Rabbi Elazar (son of Rashbi), as mentioned by the Baal HaSulam, states the whole world must be included in Arvut of Israel, meaning the entire world will "love thy friend as thyself." He makes it clear that the end of correction will be by brining all man to Dvekut with G-d. Elezar cites as proofs various prophecies of the time of Moshiach, Zechariah 14:9 (Elezar notes "on that day" ie, a prerequisite), Isaiah 11:9 and Isaiah 2:2. Israel's role to the nations will be as the Patriarchs to Israel: the nations will merit the Torah as Israel merited it through the Patriarchs
    – John
    Jun 10, 2022 at 3:44


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