Occasionally, you hear people talk about people who commit horribly evil acts. They say things like "they have no soul", or "they're so rotten they literally gave away their soul". That made me wonder: is it possible for a person to actually lose their soul while being alive or even be born without a soul? Moreover, is it possible for someone to become so corrupt and evil that they literally are born with a soul but lose it in the process?

  • The Alter Rebbe in Tanya (chapters 1-2) explains tha we have an G-dly sould and an animal one. Could we ever lose our G-dly one?
    – Shmuel
    May 20, 2023 at 19:35
  • Without the soul, the body is a lifeless clump of inanimate matter, as we learn in Bereshit. I think those phrases "sold his soul" etc are used to imply that someone has let another entity take over their soul, or they have agreed to go to hell in order to gain some benefit now. Those phrases are non-Jewish in origin, however one can possibly draw parallels with those ideas with Torah concepts, such as Ibur and Dybbuk for the former, and "stealing one's reward from one's portion in the world to come" for the latter, perhaps?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 21, 2023 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


Moreover, is it possible for someone to become so corrupt and evil that they literally are born with a soul but lose it in the process?

Difficult question to be honest.

The Alter Rebbe, in his magnus opus, Tanya, explains that we possess both an G-dly and an animal soul (chapter 1 and 2). In Chapter 11, the Alter Rebbe explains that there are persons, G-d forbid, in which the animal soul prevail:

There is also the person in whom the wickedness prevails more strongly, and all three garments of evil clothe themselves in him, causing him to commit more heinous and frequent sins. But intermittently he suffers remorse, and thoughts of repentance enter his mind, from the quality of good that is in his soul, that gathers strength now and then. However, he has not enough strength to vanquish the evil so as to rid himself entirely of his sins and be as one who confesses and abandons [his evil ways, once and for all].Concerning such a person, the Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, “The wicked are full of remorse.” These represent the majority of the wicked, in whose soul still lingers some good.

The Alter Rebbe explains that there are also people in which's soul, there isn't good anymore, the evil prevails too much. He calls these people רָשָׁע וְרַע לוֹ - a rasha who knows only evil.

But, the most important thing the Alter Rebbe teaches is that after all, a person still has a G-dly soul within him. The רָשָׁע וְרַע לוֹ also has it, but it might be buried deep(er) within his soul, but it is there, according to the Alter Rebbe.

Yet, since he still possesses good, albeit as a makif, for after all, he possesses a divine soul—

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