Re: Death before the Fall

From: <>
Date: Tue Apr 19 2005 - 20:54:39 EDT

In a message dated 4/19/05 4:06:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:
We are probably more in agreement than disagreement
truthfully. I am just pointing out that claiming that the
translation as "nephesh" as "soul" is incorrect because it
reflects the influence of western ideas of dualism on
modern translations, ignores that fact that the Hebrews
had a dualistic concept of some sort themselves.
"...The Kabbalistic tripartition of the soul into three grades: nefesh, ruah,
and neshamah. The three parts of man's soul transmigrate all spheres. Nefesh,
the force of life, is also incorporated in his servants and domestic animals.
If therefore a man has by his transgression put a flaw on nefesh, which
corresponds to the lowest sphere of action, he causes himself trouble through his
servants and his animals. Ruah, the spirit, is the power of speech. If he has
put a flaw on it by gossiping and evil talk, then by such speech he makes
enemies who speak disparagingly of him. But the sole proper rests in the brain, of
whose substance, [according to medieval medicine] the sperm of procreation is
made. Therefore if he puts a flaw on the thought which issues from his brain,
he causes himself trouble through his children. A man can indeed lift up the
three parts of his soul in every sphere and restore them to his own root by
proper action. Here we have the sparks of his own soul migrating into parts of
his immediate surroundings where they wait for him to be restored to their
proper place." 188

"... A Zaddik is able by his deeds to reassemble the sparks of his nefesh,
his ruah, or his neshemah and to lift them up from the depths..." 191

"... The main purpose of devekut (communion with God) is to attain personal
salvation which belongs to his nefesh, ruah and neshemah. This is a kind of
redemption which can take place in every man and at every time..." 194

Gershom Scholem's The Messianic idea in Judaism, Schocken, 1971

Scholem is discussing the interpretation of redemption of the Baal Shem Tov
of the Hasidic renewal who swore to no longer perform the mitzvah by rote. He
calls it the most powerful religious revolution ever. Devekut is very similar
to the self sacrifice, but Scholem insists social redemption trumps personal
redemption in Judaism and he specifically contrasts that with Christianity in
which personal redemption is the focus and communal redemption is unstressed.

Nepesh seems to be specifically an aspect of man's soul. It is not shared by
animals or possessed by animals (but a sin against nefesh affects one's (is
incorporated in one's) relationship with servants and animals).

It doesn't seem to have to do with physical death but with the death of a
soul by sins against the soul's "parts" or modes (spheres) of expression.

Received on Tue Apr 19 20:58:21 2005

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