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Yes, that pun was intended.

We know that sleep is 1/60 of death, and dreaming is 1/60 of prophecy (Brachos 57b). This is because it's a partial death, in which a piece of the Neshamah leaves the body - just enough to be noticeable, but not too much. Likewise, the Neshamah gets a glimpse of the future during its out of body experience, which we see as dreams (Maharsha).

What happens when one goes into a coma? The mind is totally unconscious; there are no dreams in a coma. Furthermore, it's not at all what Hollywood would have you believe: one does not wake up from a coma feeling refreshed. Does this mean that the Neshamah is trapped inside the body like it is when a person is awake? Does a larger portion, or all of, the Neshamah leave the body, and it's too much to be refreshed or dream?

  • Please check that my edit matches your intent. – msh210 Jul 14 '16 at 23:56
  • 3
    Similar (duplicate?): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27305 – Fred Jul 15 '16 at 0:01
  • @Fred I think the only difference is that this question is much broader than that one. I'll leave that to a mod to decide if it's enough of a dupe to close. – DonielF Jul 15 '16 at 0:40
  • If someone can answer to this question...! He is great. – kouty Jul 15 '16 at 10:14
  • i've read stories of people in a coma state, even brain dead (no measurable brain activity), with dreams and/or out of body experiences. – ray Dec 15 '16 at 6:30
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After doing a bit of looking into the topic, I think I may have found some sources to answer this question. I'll wait until others comment, to hear what they think, before I select this as the correct answer.


As discussed in this Chabad article and this question, there are five levels of the soul: nefesh, ruach, neshamah, chaya, and yechidah. As mentioned in both of those sources, the neshamah refers to the thinking part of a person, the ruach is the emotional part of a person, and the nefesh is the life force and desires of a person.

When we drift off into the subconscious, we still are able to think on some level. It's for this reason that we're able to interpret the 1/60 of prophecy contained in dreams. This is because not all of the neshamah has left the body - 59/60 of it remains. But in the unconscious state, the brain focuses its energies on the basic needs in order to keep the body alive. There is no thinking done whatsoever. It's like the entire neshamah has left and no thinking is occurring, in order to leave the nefesh to keep the body alive.

Another proof can be brought from Bava Basra 10a:

Yosef the son of R' Yehoshua had been ill and fell into a trance. His father asked him: "What did you see?" He replied, "I saw a world upside down, the upper below and the lower above." He said to him, "You saw a well regulated world."

From the fact that he saw a higher level of Olam HaEmes than one sees in dreams, which reflect but 1/60 of what the neshamah normally sees, it's quite possible that more of his neshamah went up to Shamayim, and thus he was able to bring back a clearer picture.

TL;DR: If I am correct, the entire neshamah leaves the body, and one is all but dead in the unconscious state.

  • Do you score if you accept your own answer? Interestingly, how can an unconscious state be induced? in other words, how the Neshoma can be "thrown out" of the body by some anesthetics? – Al Berko Feb 27 at 22:42
  • @AlBerko 1. No, there’s no rep gain on a self-answer. 2. Do you think I understand the ins and outs of how medicine interacts with Kabbalah? All I’m doing is reading these Gemaras and drawing a logical conclusion. Feel free to post your own answer if you interpret these sources differently. – DonielF Feb 27 at 22:43
  • The Davidson translation says "fainted" Is it coma or something else and could the conclusions be drawn on coma? – Al Berko Feb 27 at 22:50
  • @AlBerko en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncope_(medicine) Fainting causes complete lack of consciousness. – DonielF Feb 27 at 22:52
  • I think you asked a good question but the answer is very weak - you asked about "Jewish thought" but in the answer brought only one so-so source that does not discuss the state itself. Your speculation that the unconscious state might point to the fact of the Neshoma leaves the body is interesting and worth researching, but unsourced. – Al Berko Feb 27 at 22:55

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