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A man has freewill and is judged according to his deeds, his own actions decide his position. This is simple to understand. So here comes my question: "Animals too have souls but their level is so degraded compared to Man. They have no freewill and they do what Hashem decides them to do. So, how does Hashem decide that this soul should be in this specific animal? If they are no merits/demerits for animals why some are Kosher and some Non-Kosher? In Torah we see specific animals have a major role, to give a perfect example: the Donkey of Bilaam, and also there is a tradition that tells us Mashiach comes on Donkey, what was so special with these animals?"

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    Source for animals having a soul?
    – Dov
    Nov 7, 2023 at 8:50
  • I think it is pretty definitive that animals don't have a soul unless maybe they're a gilgul (reincarnation) of a human, and even then it is not clear cut
    – Dov
    Nov 7, 2023 at 8:56
  • Sifsei Chachomim on Bereishis 7:22 says expressly - "דהא אין לבהמות נשמה דוקא גבי אדם" - "For animals have no soul, only man."
    – Dov
    Nov 7, 2023 at 9:01
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    Can the same question not be asked about angels?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 7, 2023 at 9:41
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    No it says they have a מציאות נפש - not an outright soul as we know it. I'm sure you are aware of the 5 differing levels of the soul (nefesh, ruach, neshama, chaya & yechida) - this seems to imply they have some partial nefesh which represents the lowest level and some would argue more of a consciousness rather than soul as we know it. In other words. the nefesh is the lowest level of consciousness, an awareness of the physical body and the physical world and that's really it...
    – Dov
    Nov 7, 2023 at 11:38

1 Answer 1

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You are asking 3 questions that come up when you consider that animals don't have free will:

  1. Why does Hashem make this animal soul go into the body of this animal species?
  2. How can some animals be kosher, and some not?
  3. What is special about those animals with special roles, like Bilaam's Donkey?

There is indeed a single answer to these questions. As the Zohar says:

לָא בְרָא קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא מִלְּתָא דְּלָאו אִיהוּ צָרִיךְ

Hashem didn't make anything that He didn't need

As Rambam explains in Moreh Nevuchim 3:13, all of Hashem's decisions and everything He created, is exactly as He needs it. This animal soul is put in that animal body because Hashem made it to go into that body, to fulfil His Ratzon. Hashem's plan needs both Kosher and Non-Kosher animals, neither is redundant or better or worse. Both fulfil His desire! Hashem's plan required special animals, like Bilaam's Donkey. None of these animals "merited" anything (you are right, they don't have free will). They were brought into existence and designed to follow Hashem's blueprint, the Torah, and all of that is to fulfil His desire, and nothing else.

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  • @kaii Thank you for answering my question. So what i understand is, Kosher seems to be something Holy and meritorious and Non-Kosher to be something degraded, likewise animal with a special role and a regular one; but this is only in human's point of view, but to Hashem both of them were created to perform His will and in an equal level. Nov 21, 2023 at 4:41
  • @GembaliNoach yep, you got it.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 21, 2023 at 9:26
  • Agree with you answer but disagree with your Ramban MN ref. Aren't there other opinions that there is the Explicit Will and there's the Permissive Will that "allows" bad things to happen even though H' the kind and merciful would never want it. Dec 19, 2023 at 16:13
  • @NissimNanach are you arguing on MN or my interpretation of MN? Btw, I once answered this very point about inner/outer will in this answer here: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/133987/31534, and more recently here: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/136448/31534
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 19, 2023 at 16:18
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    @NissimNanach none taken. I follow Ishbitz on this, and realise that other chassidim have other approaches.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 19, 2023 at 16:36

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