Jewish Soul Explained
This is an article posted by Rabbi REUVEN BULKA is head of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa and host of Sunday night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA is in answer to the question “What is the nature of our soul?”
Before addressing your question, I should let you know, in the spirit of full and honest disclosure, that I do not know the answer to your question. My response will be somewhat of a dance around the question because any seemingly complete answer will only lead to more questions.
So, for example, if I tell you that the soul is what God has breathed into us, that it is the Godly ingredient in our corporeal existence, that seems like an answer, perhaps even a good answer. But then, you are perfectly justified in asking — what is the nature of that Godly ingredient?
All I have done with this answer is to move the question forward a notch. The answer remains elusive.
As to what is the nature of the Godly ingredient, we go back to my original answer. If the soul is what God breathed into us, and presumably this was breathed into “humans” only, then we could possibly zero in on understanding the soul by capturing what differentiates humans from animals.
There are many differences, but not all of them are relevant to our issue. Thus, the fact that humans are more likely than animals to eat at a set table, with plates and cutlery, may be a difference, but not a definitional difference.
More relevant is that human beings have the capacity to choose. They can, for example, decide to forgo a narcissistic impulse or material desire, in favour of a more transcending objective.
They can, for example, give away their supper to someone more hungry. This does not mean that they actually choose, only that they can.
This capacity to choose, essentially to choose a more noble option at the expense of a material gain, is what sets humans apart. It means that we therefore have greater expectations from humans.
Perhaps that is the nature of the human soul — the ability to choose. Whether it is or is not, the imperative to choose wisely remains a basic human responsibility.
Jewish Soul Explained
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