Questions tagged [soul]

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14
votes
7answers
2k views

Am I a body with a soul or a soul with a body?

I've always thought that our true essence, who we actually are, our personalities are our souls. To me, bodies are just temporary "homes" for the soul. My body can perish, but my soul will continue ...
13
votes
7answers
42k views

Nefesh, neshama and ruach as words for “soul”

All three words can mean something like "soul", e.g., neshama in גלגול נשמות, and ruach in וַתְּחִי רוּחַ יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם (Bereshit 45:27). So, what is the difference?
13
votes
5answers
847 views

What's “chelek Eloak mimaal”?

I have frequently heard the human (or only the Jewish?) soul referred to as "חלק אלוק ממעל", literally "portion/section/piece/allotment of God (from) above". What does this mean? Who's the first to ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What does it mean for one's soul to “be like dust to everyone”?

From the end of the Amidah: "To those who curse me, let my soul be silent; and let my soul be like dust to everyone". What does it mean, for one's soul to be like dust? And why is it a good thing?
12
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2answers
518 views

Reincarnation vs. resurrection of the dead

Some Jews believe in reincarnation. They are also supposed to accept the Resurrection of the Dead, where actual bodies are resurrected. In that case, for each soul, which body is resurrected?
12
votes
2answers
512 views

What causes a person to remain in this world as a ghost?

A baraita on Berakhot 18b relates a story where a pious man sleeps in a cemetery and hears two spirits talking. One of them suggests they wander the world, and the other says she can't because she ...
11
votes
2answers
238 views

Is the “I” consciousness from the body or from the soul

Where does the sense of "I" (i.e. the sense of self-awareness) originate from? Is it from the physical body (the brain) or is it from the spiritual soul which wears the body (as brought down in ...
11
votes
2answers
600 views

Do converts represent a “farblondzshet” neshama?

Before our wedding, a mikvah lady learned that my wife was marrying me -- a convert to Judaism. Her response was that I must represent a "farblondzshet neshama" (a confused or a lost Jewish soul). ...
11
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2answers
689 views

Is there really a distinct “Jewish soul”?

I have heard many times about Jews having a "special soul" or a "Jewish soul" - a soul which is either lacking and/or fundamentally different than that of non-Jews. However, the sources which are ...
9
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4answers
1k views

What is a summary of basic Jewish metaphysics or theology?

Whilst wishing no disrespect to any religion, various "basic concepts" are easily found summarised or explained in introductory texts or online. For example: Buddhist metaphysics would have to do ...
9
votes
3answers
963 views

Is there any proof of the existence of the soul?

Judaism asserts that a human being is a composite of a body and a spiritual soul (see Talmud Sanhedrin 91b for example) which lives on after death. Is there any way to prove the existence of the soul?...
9
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4answers
446 views

Can the living negatively affect the dead?

As far as I know, living people can positively affect the dead. This is the reason we say Kaddish and learn Mishnayos for the souls of the deceased. (Feel free to comment with more examples of this.) ...
9
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2answers
687 views

How to make amends for my previous mistakes?

According to the Talmud... "Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." - Mishnah ...
8
votes
3answers
209 views

What is the importance of the human body after death?

On one hand, we are told that the body is a simply container holding our soul. We have to take care of it while alive because we are borrowing it for our time on Earth. It is widely believed that our ...
7
votes
5answers
535 views

Is the brain the seat of the soul?

There are disturbing ideas in the Feb 21, 2011 Time magazine cover article 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal. The article attributes to Raymond Kurzweil the prediction that within the next 25 years ...
7
votes
4answers
188 views

How does punishment in the World to Come make sense?

If a person is able to make choices in this world, and especially if a person is able to disbelieve that there is a Divine order of any type, how does it make sense for a person's soul to be punished ...
7
votes
1answer
325 views

Can a soul be destroyed to non-existence?

Can a soul die (make choices that will lead to its being completely destroyed)? The Zohar 1:131a states that the souls of transgressors will became ashen cinders under the feet of the righteous. From ...
7
votes
1answer
204 views

Unconsciousness in Jewish Thought

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Do spirits/souls have genders?

Bodies have genders (physical anatomy and genetics) and the brain has a gender (gender identity), but do the spirits/souls or our heavenly bodies have genders as well? Similar: Do we retain our ...
6
votes
2answers
562 views

Parable of man visiting diamond-filled island

I've read and heard many times a parable about a poor man who visits an island where the roads are paved with diamonds and/or jewels. Over time, however, he starts amassing what's valuable there - ...
6
votes
2answers
346 views

What is the tzror hachaim (bond of life)?

On tombstones one finds the acronym for t'hay nafsho/ah tzrurah b'tzror hachaim (may the soul be bound to the bond of life). What is this bond of life? Do we have any sources which explain what this ...
6
votes
2answers
467 views

What are the implications of karet?

Does karet mean the soul will not ever enter the olam haba? Can teshuvah rectify the transgression which lead to the karet? Can that soul in another re-incarnation rectify the blemish of karet? By "...
6
votes
1answer
336 views

Does anyone have a proof text that animals *don't* have spirits?

I've heard it said that animals don't possess a רוח However, Ecclesiastes 3:21 uses the phrase רוּחַ הַבְּהֵמָה. Is there any text that indicates that animals don't possess a spirit? Edit: Upon ...
6
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0answers
69 views

The soul and Sleep

I’ve heard from a Rabbi that the falling feeling you get while your sleeping that wakes you up (known as the hipnic jerk) is your soul falling back into your body. Are there any other sources that ...
6
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0answers
152 views

What is the timeline of the connection of the soul to the body after death?

Speaking to the Rabbi who runs the chevra kadisha in my neighborhood recently, regarding the pending cremation of the mother of a friend, he mentioned several interesting concepts with respect to the ...
5
votes
1answer
713 views

What is the original source that a soul is split in half before conception?

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
357 views

What is the Yeshiva Shel Maala?

What is the "yeshiva shel maala" (literally yeshiva on high) that is found a number of times in Chazal's writings (ex. "whoever teaches his fellow's son Torah merits and sits in the yeshiva on High" - ...
5
votes
2answers
608 views

What happens when the neshama has an aliya?

there is a common practice to learn torah for someone who is deceased 'l'iluy nishmato/a' - to raise her/his soul. There is also a common (american/ashkenazik?) custom for a relative of a deceased ...
4
votes
2answers
179 views

Soulmate for someone who died unwed

I had a friend who was dating a woman. They were close but not "in love". Anyway, he passed away and she moved on. Well, she met someone new and they are in love. My question is, what does G-d do ...
4
votes
1answer
76 views

Yom Kippur - Soul or Body

The Torah (Vayikra 16:31) says "וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם, You shall afflict yourselves." - this is a reference to Yom Kippur. Artscroll translates נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֑ם to mean yourselves, but ...
4
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1answer
70 views

Learning one mesechta l'ilui Nishmas for two people

It is customary to learn mishnayos in order to elevate the soul of the deceased. Can one learn one tractate of Mishna and have in mind two deceased people l'ilui nishmasom, or can you only have in ...
4
votes
2answers
170 views

Role of the soul in living things

Are the bodies of living things (bacteria, plant, animals, humans) running like a purely physical machine or are they coupled with some kind of spiritual soul to breathe life into this machine. Our ...
4
votes
1answer
332 views

Location of the Neshama

The gemara in Brachot 10a says that the Neshama fills the body מה הקדוש ברוך הוא מלא כל העולם - אף נשמה מלאה את כל הגוף On the other hand we find places that indicate the Neshama is in the brain/...
4
votes
2answers
124 views

Kiddush, Learning and Mitzvos for dead/niftar neshamos

I seek an early source that giving Kiddush (so others will make a bracha for the zchus of the neshama) or other such actions that can positively affect the neshamos of those who have departed.
4
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0answers
51 views

Smelling Besamim before Havdallah

According to our minhag that we smell Besamim during Havdallah as part of Havdallah, if one smelled Besamim after Shabbos before Havdallah (for whatever reason), should or can that person omit the ...
4
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0answers
117 views

What happens to the soul when dozing for a minute or ten?

Tradition tells us the soul leaves the body when sleeping. Is the same true when drowsing in a chair, which is usually not a deep sleep and you are still aware of background noise?
3
votes
1answer
140 views

A reference to the soul of a Tzaddik like an eyelash in milk

I know that somewhere in something I have read there is a comment that someone (Yaakov avinu?) was so spiritually pure/holy that his soul did not cling to the earthly shell that was his body but came ...
3
votes
3answers
578 views

Why do we need a neshama yesera?

On shabbos we get an additional soul (tannis 27b) - what is the utility of this soul? Is it the same one every week? Why would we need an extra soul?
3
votes
2answers
107 views

How can Nefesh mean a dead person?

In Vayikra 21:1 it's stated that one should not defile himself for any (dead) nefesh (person). How can a word like nefesh which seems to be the force that animated the body and gave it it's life, ...
3
votes
2answers
281 views

Humans have 613 organs?

Does the human nefesh (nefesh haAdam) have 613 spiritual organs? Tanya CH.4 says that a soul has 613 organs like the "organs of the King". I'm assuming that since man is made in the image of G-d, then ...
3
votes
2answers
113 views

What is the chassidic version of ruach?

In my understanding by comparing the Arizal's works to the Tanya, the animal soul = nefesh, the G-dly soul = neshamah. But what about ruach?
3
votes
3answers
269 views

Inner being: Soul or Spirit?

Bereshit (Genesis) 2:7 reads: 'vayipach beapav nishmat chayim vayehi ha'adam lenefesh chayah' Is my inner being a 'soul' or a 'spirit', or am I a 'soul' or am I a 'spirit'? Let me make myself clear: ...
3
votes
1answer
283 views

Where does the Zohar hold the nefesh resides?

According to the Tanya, the part of the soul called "nefesh" resides in the heart (specifically in the left side of the heart): והנה מקום משכן נפש הבהמית שמקליפת נוגה בכל איש ישראל הוא בלב בחלל ...
3
votes
1answer
177 views

Does the concept of ibur exist today?

The shaar hagilgulim frequently addresses the concept of iburim, that souls from passed on people may enter new bodies. For source, see for example shaar hagilgulim 1.8: "According to this, you can ...
3
votes
1answer
87 views

“The feelings reveal the soul.”(Pieseszner Rebbe). Is this idea accepted by contemporary Orthodox thought?

In “Experiencing the Divine: A Practical Jewish Guide,” by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (the Pieseszner Rebbe), translated by Yaacov Dovid Shulman, the Rebbe says, (p 28): Every feeling that is ...
3
votes
2answers
227 views

Rebbe maamer modifying Tanya on non-Jew's soul root?

I heard from a friend that the Rebbe gave a maamer somewhat modifying the statement in Tanya that all non-Jews' souls are from the klippot. Can anyone provide the exact source for it?
3
votes
1answer
108 views

Is Aryeh Kaplan's definition of the self in Jewish Meditation accurate (“nothingness” chapter)?

Let me preface this question by stating that I'm Jewish with a background in Zen Buddhism. Eastern philosophy was my first introduction to spirituality coming from an atheistic/materialistic worldview....
3
votes
3answers
268 views

Where do human souls come from?

In the kabbalah of the Arizal, which world does the g-dly soul inherant in a human come from? Do they for example come from the world of Atzilut?
3
votes
3answers
200 views

What distinguishes humans from animals?

Both Humans and animals seem to have: Flesh: (Bereshit 6:13) The ketz (end) of kol basar is come before Me. Nefesh Chaya: (Bereshit 1:30) wherein is a Nefesh Chaya Ruach Chayim: (Bereshit 6:17 & ...
3
votes
1answer
130 views

'Removal of the evil inclination is like removal of the soul'

I saw recently (here) in the name of the Chazon Ish that 'removal of the evil inclination removes the soul'. Is there a written source for this (either in the writings of the Chazon Ish or elsewhere)?