Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 01/17/2015

NEFESH, RUACH & NESHAMAH

 25 “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:25-27

I received a Hebrew/English calendar for Christmas last month and found some fascinating reflections on the nature of His created beings, especially our human ‘being’, based on the belief that God (Yahweh) created us in His own image. I am not necessarily agreeing totally with this interpretation, but not totally disagreeing either. You decide. Here are three of the main aspects of our being, according to the Hebrew tradition:

NefeshNEFESH (heart or animal soul, common to all living creatures according to their species)

The nefesh is the life force of the BODY, linked to the blood “and transmitted through the genetic material at the time of conception” (The Way of God 3:1:3). It informs and animates the physical, autonomous, and psychological functions of the created being. It behooves us to listen to and be guided by the divine wisdom of the body.

RUACH (the next higher level of the divine soul – described as the first level of the ‘human soul’

ruachThe realm of consciousness is manifest through the awakening and calling of the emotions to higher service in the dynamic interplay of life. The focus of the INTELLECT is contemplation in order to arouse the emotions to love and be in awe of the Creator. The spiritual masters call this ‘the toil of the heart’ through which an individual comes to love the Essence of life with all his/her heart. The Ruach is also known as SPIRIT. It is not attached to the body in the same way as the nefesh and can depart the body with the other ascending levels of soul during sleep. Nefesh and ruach are sometimes called the existential aspects of the soul. Ruach also means ‘wind’ – that which invisibly stirs and directs all of creation.

NESHAMAH

neshamahThe nature of the divine soul is to yearn for closer and closer union with God. The person connected to the neshamah level of the soul will never be satisfied by the pleasures and desires of this world, because s/he aspires to transcendent union. The neshamah level of the divine soul is connected to the intellect in the realm of CONCEPTUAL UNDERSTANDING. It is the source of individual identity seeking to comprehend the manifestation of divine energy in the created world and is realized through religious and mystical discipline. It contemplates the coming-into-being of life and existence from nothingness. It is the breath of life (neshamah derives from the word neshimah: ‘breath’) as conscious presence in and in attunement with the Source of all Being. At this level of increasing spiritual light, LOVE is revealed through intellectual comprehension of the divine, filling the heart with the desire for godliness and communion with God as Creator of the world.

Disclaimer: this may be a Kabbalah teaching. That is an offshoot of Judaism, and not something I follow. However, it is interesting.

And, I am no intellectual! But a lot of this rings true with my ruach (spirit)! As a Christian, I am the temple of the Ruach haKodesh (HOLY SPIRIT of God). This should be and is my guiding Light.

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Responses

  1. Great interpretation Elena. You have done your homework. Loved it!


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