The Anatomy of the Human Soul (Part 2, Neshamah)


The Anatomy of the Human Soul (Part 2, Neshamah)

By: William J Jackson

The “nephesh” piece of our souls is the simplest part (*part 1).  It is considered the seat of desire, appetites, emotions and passions (1).  Conversely, the “neshamah” is on the opposite end of the soul spectrum.  It is the divine spark of Adonai that lives in each of us.  This divine spark or neshamah separates us from Adonai’s other creations.

As the nephesh is considered the lowest level being nicknamed the animal soul, the neshamah is the highest level and thus is called the G-d Soul.

We see the neshamah first talked about on the 6th day of creation in Genesis 2:7

“And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul (neshamah) of life, and man became a living soul (nephesh).”

God breath

Interestingly we see two components of the soul in this passage; the neshamah and the nephesh. Adonai breathed into man giving man his neshamah and this became a living soul or nephesh

Another point to ponder; remember in Genesis 1:20 and 24 Adonai spoke His creatures into existence but in Genesis 2:7 Adonai breathed man into existence. We can all admit breathing something into existence is more intimate then speaking it into existence.

So as we can deduct from Tanakh, animals only possess the nephesh but man possesses both the nephesh and neshamah. We know that this is true because in Torah (Genesis 1:27, 5:1 and 9:6) it states that “God created (only) humankind in his own image”.

The next question we should ask ourselves is do all people possess neshamah?

Isaiah the prophet answers this in Isaiah 42:5; “So said God the Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the One Who stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what springs forth from it, who gave a soul (neshamah) to the people upon it and a spirit (ruach) to those who walk thereon.”

Isaiah again confirms this in Isaiah 57:16

To expand the definition of the neshamah it has been considered the intellect (2) and the intuition of human Soul.

In Job 32:8 it says that the neshamah gives us understanding

In Proverbs: 20:27 it is called “…the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being.”

Many believe that the neshamah gives us the desire to reconnect with its source Adonai (3).

The article “Three parts of soul” says it here beautifully “The neshamah is the spiritual existence which pulls the man towards Adonai, to the performance of good deeds, to be pious and humble and to seek knowledge and achievement in spiritual fields.” (4)

We can all agree that the neshamah is a critical part of the human soul. So what binds this Adonai (neshamah) soul to the animal (nephesh) soul, and more importantly what binds all of this to Adonai (5)?  We will answer that question in Part 3 “The Ruach” on Thursday, July 16


(1) Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon Number H5315

(2) Moshe Miller, Levels of Soul Consciousness,

(3) Yanki Tauber, What is a Soul?

(4) Three parts of the soul, Ask the Rabbi, Ohr Somayach International
(5) Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Soul,

*The Anatomy of the Human Soul (Part 1, Nephesh)

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