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What is a soul?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht


Library » Philosophy » Soul | Subscribe | What is RSS?


A. The soul is to the body what the astronaut is to the spacesuit—it functions like a battery, giving the body life and animation. Take the astronaut out of the suit, and the suit’s basically useless. Take the soul out of the body, and the body basically collapses. (Which is what death is—separation of body and soul.)

B. A soul is Divine energy. It is existence beyond matter. It is that part of you that exists beyond matter, beyond your body and your five senses. It cannot be seen or experienced physically; the senses are simply the wrong devices to contain and measure the soul (just as you can’t see love or music or hold democracy in your hands). It is impossible to give a concrete definition of a soul, since a soul is not a tangible entity. It’s not matter—it’s energy, but neither is it physical energy. It’s G-dly energy, a little piece of G-d within you. One would actually have to shut down the senses to experience the soul—if you were blind, deaf, tongueless, noseless, and touch insensitive, you would still be alive inside yourself. But what part of you is still alive? That’s the soul.

Each soul is the expression of G-d’s intention and vision in creating that particular being
C. Simon Jacobson, author of Towards of Meaningful Life, explains the soul like this: “A soul is our inner identity, our raison d’être. The soul of music is the composer’s vision that energizes and gives life to the notes played in a musical composition. The actual notes are like the body expressing the vision and feeling of the soul within them. Each soul is the expression of G-d’s intention and vision in creating that particular being. The soul is the very fabric of our being—as conceived by G-d’s vision in wanting us to exist. Each of us is a unique musical note in a grand cosmic composition. It is incumbent upon us to discover our soul—our higher calling—and play its unique music.” Wow.


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It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.