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As I have seen here, some say that only Jews have a neshama, others say that all humans have one. There was a reference there only of the former opinion (Jews only), and I know from elsewhere that that is indeed what the book of Tanya says.
Are there indeed kabbalists (as this meaning of neshama is specific to the Kabbala) who hold that all humans have neshamot? If yes, is there a specific division (e.g., Sefaradim / Ashkenazim)?
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See “The Soul of a Jew, the Soul of a Non-Jew: Two Views “(mp3) by Rabbi Chanan Balk.
Tanya posits that all humans possess a nefesh bahamit (“animalistic soul”) whereas only Jews possess a nefesh elokit (“G-dly soul”), whatever that means. But there are other opinions.
Rabbi Balk consulted several major rabbis, all of them affiliated with the Beth Din of America, regarding the question: “do Jews have entirely different souls than non-Jews?”
- One rabbi replied: “of course, what’s the question?”
- Another replied: “Of course not, what are you talking about?”
- A third replied: “Believe it if you like, not if you don’t; it’s not one of Maimonides’ Thirteen Fundamentals.”
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I don’t think there is a conflict. Each human has a neshama, however, Jews have two neshamot – one that all the nations have, and an extra one that only Jews have. Additionally, there is a third neshama that only Jews Receive on shabbat.
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To read more about the Rebbe Schneerson’s view that Gentiles do have a neshamah, please see: http://portraitofaleader.blogspot.com/2009/12/soul-of-gentile.html
I cannot see where there could have been any difference of opinion on this matter, inasmuch as it is explicitly stated in various sources, and statements are also found in various sections of Tanach (Isaiah 42:5, 57:16), to the effect that Gentiles also have a neshama . . . . It seems to me, therefore, that you may have been arguing at cross-purposes, and that perhaps the question related more to the fact that there are different levels and qualities of soul. Now if this was the point of contention, then it is true that the soul of the Gentile and the soul of the Jew differ in their nature, this being connected with one of the basic principles of the Torah – the fact that the Jews are a people chosen from among the nations of the world. This chosen-ness originates in the fact that when G-d was about to give the Torah at Mt. Sinai, He first offered it to all the other nations of the world, who refused to accept it. The Jewish people did accept it. Needless to add, this is in no way inconsistent with the statement of our Sages, to the effect that the righteous among the Gentiles have a special status and, according to the Rambam, also have a share in the World-to-Come.
Judging by your letter, it is surely unnecessary for me to emphasize to you what has already been indicated above, namely, that our belief in the chosen-ness of the Jewish people is not a matter of chauvinism or fanaticism, but rather the deep-felt realization that this uniqueness carries with it great responsibilities and special obligations. This is why, for example, Jews have to fulfill “Taryag (613) mitzvoth,” whereas Gentiles are not obligated to observe kashrut and various other restrictions connected with the idea of holiness, holiness being the essential aspect of the Jewish soul.
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That answer there is just wrong. It represents that the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that the level of Neshamah is not present with non-Jews. In fact, the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that all 5 levels of Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya and Yechida exist in all human souls. The distinction between G-dly and not is precisely in the additional soul (which is what Tanya speaks about – a whole separate one – in other words a divine connection and influence necessitated and determined by the additional Mitzvos required of a Jew over a non-Jew, and the corresponding ability to actualize those requirements).
In other places it speaks about the language of Ger Shenisgair – a convert who converts – rather than a non-Jew who converts, that actually the potential for conversion was pre-existing (he was a convert before he actually converted). Thus that very same influence and connection can exist with someone who is currently non-Jewish. My own observation is that this influence is often seen in many conversion stories – a pull and attraction to Judaism that just seems to come out of nowhere.
I think the misunderstanding comes from the fact that Neshamah (in the Kabbalistic system) refers primarily to the intellectual capacity of the soul, and the G-dly soul is described as primarily intellectually motivated, thus Neshamah can be thought of as being more associated with the G-dly soul. But that is a general association (the Neshamah aspect is more predominant in one over the other), not that it doesn’t have it.
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Peshat of the pesukim in chumash seem to be saying that. Vayivra Adam B’Tzelem Elokim, or Vayipach B’Apav Nishmas Chayim, are both talkiung about Adam, and Adam was not Jewish. And don’t bring me “atem nikra’im adam”, as that’s a halachic principle, not applicable to the peshat of the text, which is talking about the specific person, Adam. Adam was not Jewish, he was not part of the Brit Sinai, and did not recieve the Torah. Furthermore, all humanity, including non-Jews, descend from him. To say that non-Jews don’t have souls at all is to ignore chumash. Additionally, The Gemara in Sanhedrin 37a says “why was man created alone, to tell you that anyone who destroys a life, is as if he destroyed a whole world, and whoever saves a life, is as if he saved a whole world”. The girsa that appears in our texts of a life “in Israel” is not in the yerushalmi version of the same mishna, and appears to be incorrect. The message about the importance of an individual’s life is clear
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You’re confusing a nefesh elokit(G-dly soul) with a nefesh Yehudit(Jewish soul). I have yet to see a description in Tanya of a nefesh Yehudit. Tanya is describing a nefesh elokit (G-dly Soul), a nefesh haAdam (human soul), and a nefesh bahamit (animalistic soul).
The nefesh haAdam(human soul) which everyone has, if it loses itself completely in the study of Torah and “grasps” Torah as defined by Tanya, then the seichol(intellect, which is the upper 3 attributes/sefirot) grasp the inner essence of G-d and therefore grasp a nefesh Elokit (G-dly soul).
All humans who have the nefesh haAdam(to my knowledge) can grasp a nefesh Elokit. Non-Jews should only grasp their seven mitzvot at first if they so desire, but maybe more to complete the seichel(one should be talking with an orthodox Rabbi at this point). Also, one cannot fully grasp the 613 organs of “the King” as Tanya describes, without fully grasping the 613 mitzvot.
The translations that it’s a “Jewish soul” is wrong. It’s a G-dly soul, not necessary a Jewish soul that the Tanya describes. All nefesh Yehudit(Jewish souls) are nefesh Elokit(G-dly souls), but not all nefesh Elokit(G-dly souls) are nefesh Yehudit(Jewish souls).
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shaarei kedusha part 3 shaar 2 brings the distinction basically he says the soul of a jew is connected with the mystical worlds while the soul of a non jew is not.
Afterwards, the Jewish man was created. Purer in all the soul levels than all other creations, whether in the souls of Domem (earth), Tzomeach (water), Chaya (wind) or Medaber (Fire).
In being more pure than all the creations, he is elevated even higher because he is also included and tied in with all the 5 worlds and in all their details. How? After the lower soul, a soul enters him from the firmament of Vilon, and from there and above, all the way up to the highest firmament in Asiya, all this together is called the soul of Asiya. This is called the Intellectual soul, the holy soul in a person. It is divided into the 5 soul levels…
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The baal hatanya explains that gentiles have animal souls, whereas Jews have both animal and godly souls.
However, some non-Jews who are especially righteous have a godly soul too IIRC.
In kabbalah, the animal soul (נפש הבהמית; nefesh habehamit) is one of the two souls of a Jew. It is the soul that gives life to the physical body, as stated in Tanya, and is the source of animalistic desires as well as innate Jewish characteristics such as kindness and compassion. Although its initial desire is to seek out worldly, physical pleasures, it can be trained to desire spiritual pleasures instead through the guidance of the divine soul.
Kelipat Nogah: (lit. “the shining kelipah”) dimension of kelipah in which the light is intermingled with the shell; differs from the other kelipot in that its spiritual potential (the “brightness” within it) can be redeemed by man’s constructive intent while making use of the physicality in which it is vested
Reflections on “Hayom Yom”: Nissan 27 (Video)
Jewish.tv » Short Insight
JEWS VS GENTILES BLOG http://snippits-and-slappits.blogspot.com/2015/03/what-rabbis-teach-jews-about-gentiles.html?m=1
Transforming the animal soul
While the animal soul is still attached to worldly, physical pleasures, it is synonymous with the yetzer hara, the evil inclination. However, the nefesh habehamit is not inherently evil; it merely seeks pleasure. Through persistent, joyous exposure to Torah study and observance of mitzvot, the nefesh habehamit can be trained to desire spiritual and divine pleasures. In its refined state, it is often termed the nefesh hachiyunit, the life-giving soul, because its primary function then is to give life and energy to the body in order to study Torah and perform the mitzvot.
The nefesh habehamit is typically mentioned together with the nefesh ha’elokit, the divine soul, because the nefesh habehamit and the nefesh ha’elokit are at first in opposition to each other. Chassidut teaches that every person must seek to dominate and conquer the nefesh habehamit to make it serve the nefesh ha’elokit.
Parable of the Harlot and the Prince
The nefesh habehamit actually desires to be defeated, as explained by a Zoharic parable of a king (God) who desired to test the mettle of his son, the prince (the soul, whose true identity is the nefesh ha’elokit). The king hires a beautiful harlot (the yetzer hara) to seduce his son, explaining to her that his goal is to test the son. She is to utilize all of her wiles and techniques to ensnare the prince, as anything less would not be a true test. However, inwardly, the harlot wants that the prince should succeed and not succumb to her.
Thus, the sole purpose for evil’s existence is to be defeated by humankind, and this is for people’s own benefit.
Levels of conquest
The Tanya explains that it is within the power of all people to at least control the so-called “garments” of the soul. These garments are thought, speech and action, and are derived from the verse (Deuteronomy 30:14), “For it is exceedingly close to you, in your mouth [speech] and heart [thought], to do it [action].” Once these three garments are wholly devoted to Torah and mitzvot, a person attains the rank of a beinoni, and this is within reach of every person.
A tzadik is a person who has utterly transformed the actual emotions of the nefesh habehamit. That is, instead of changing just the external “garments” of the soul, they have transformed the soul’s emotions themselves and actually feel no attachment to worldly desires. Their sole desire is for divine pleasures.
The above, however, describes an “incomplete tzadik” in whom a small remnant of evil remains. A “complete tzadik” is a person in whom the essential nature of the nefesh habehamit has been transformed, to the extent that the person “transforms the evil and elevates it to holiness”, turning “darkness to light”. This tzadik not only feels no attachment to evil, but utterly hates it.
Relation to human anatomy
The Tanya teaches that the nefesh habehamit is primarily manifest in the left ventricle of heart, and that from there, it spreads throughout the body via the blood. It fights against the nefesh ha’elokit by flooding blood to the brain, where the nefesh ha’elokit resides. The nefesh habehamit itself may be defeated by causing the brain to control the heart, that is, by causing logic to control and guide the emotions. In fact, this is considered the natural state of a person, since in a human the brain is physically positioned above the heart (in contrast to animals, where the brain and the heart are on the same level).
- Behemoth (Hebrew בהמות, lit. “animal”, “beast”)