Does anyone knew of the original source (from a sefer) for the idea in this quote: "According to Jewish thought, a husband and wife were originally one soul before birth, split into two halves when the younger of the two was conceived".

I tried searching online but I can't find a source (from a sefer) cited for this idea.

  • 1
    Where's the quote from?
    – Seth J
    Aug 22, 2012 at 14:36
  • 2
    Sounds suspiciously like Aristophanes's speech from Plato's Symposium Aug 22, 2012 at 15:45
  • 2
    Split when the younger is conceived? ("I suddenly feel half as alive as I did a moment ago. My future wife must have just been conceived.") Anyway, welcome to Mi Yodeya, Yehuda Meyer, and thanks for the interesting question. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site.
    – msh210
    Aug 22, 2012 at 16:25
  • Thank you everyone for your comments & answers & the translation! It's possible that the quote is not the correct quote and people have been copying from each other via Google without tracking down the source themselves--it's been known to happen :-) Witness how many hits Google brings back Aug 22, 2012 at 23:32
  • Notice that the top hit says "split in half when the first of the two is conceived." Other hits say "split into two halves when the older of the two was conceived"
    – Chanoch
    Aug 23, 2012 at 0:54

1 Answer 1



איתא בזהר ח״א צא, ב. שאיש ואשה הם נשמה אחת, אלא שבירידת הנשמה לעוה״ז, באה מחצית הנשמה בגוף של זכר, והמחצית השני׳ – בגוף בת־זוגו. ולכן נקרא כל אחד מהם בלשון "פלג גופא" זח״ג ז, ב. קט, ב. רצו, א. , כיון שבכל אחד מהם לבדו יש רק חצי נשמה. ועז״נ בראשית ב, כד, "על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו ודבק באשתו והיו לבשר אחד", כיון שהאיש והאשה הם מלכתחילה נשמה אחת, שנתחלקה לשני חלקים.‏

Rough Translation (corrections welcome):

It is stated in Zohar I 91B that a husband and wife are one soul, but when the soul descends into this world, half of it enters the male's body, and the other half enters the body of the woman that is his intended mate. Therefore each one is referred to as "A Split Body" (Zohar III 7B, 109B, 296A), since in each one disparately there is only half a soul. Regarding this it states in Bereshit 2:24, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.", since the husband and wife were originally one soul that was split in two.

  • That doesn't say anything about the split happening when the younger one is conceived (the more unique part of the question IMO)
    – Double AA
    Aug 22, 2012 at 13:43
  • 1
    @DoubleAA, maybe the original text of the Zohar, quoted in the (ahem) untranslated text provided by Gershon, mentions that in a section not included in the quote above.
    – Seth J
    Aug 22, 2012 at 14:35
  • 3
    @DoubleAA: Perhaps the questioner is off a bit on the quote. Aug 22, 2012 at 15:05
  • 1
    @DoubleAA: The Zohar linked to in the answer seems to imply the opposite it says, "R' Chizkiya said in the name of R' Chiya, the second the man descends into this world, his intended is prepared for him". This seems to indicate that as soon as he descends the soul is split, regardless of whether he is younger or older.
    – Menachem
    Aug 22, 2012 at 21:07
  • 1
    @SethJ: ^^^^^^^^
    – Menachem
    Aug 22, 2012 at 21:08

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