The Anatomy of the Human Soul (Part 3, Ruach)


The Anatomy of the Human Soul (Part 3, Ruach)
By: William J Jackson

The “ruach” in relation to our soul is the spirit of Adonai.  Another way of saying this is that it’s Hashem’s influence on us. The human soul has three parts; the nephesh*, the neshamah** and finally the ruach.  The “nephesh” (animal soul) is the lowest level and the “neshamah” (G-d soul) is the highest level so this implies the “ruach” is the mid-level soul.  This is a good illustration because the ruach binds these two other levels together (1) and connects them all to YHVH.

The ruach is the first of the three parts of our soul that is mentioned in scripture (Genesis 1:2).  It is actually mentioned before the creation of the world.

It is sometimes showcased as Adonai’s creative side:
Job 33:4 The spirit (ruach) of God made me, and the breath (neshamah) of the Almighty keeps me alive.

Even animals have Ruach: Genesis 7:15, Psalm 104:25,29

When the ruach relates to us, it’s the soul’s emotions, its morality and can be God inspired (2).

It can serve as Adonai’s instructions as we see in Nehemiah 9:20;

“And You gave Your good spirit (ruach) to make them understand…”

And yet a better example of the ruach’s influencing us can be seen in Ezekiel 36:27

“And I will put My spirit (ruach) within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do [them].”

You may ask yourself how does Adonai use His ruach to influence us?  He uses it in a verity of different forms.  The Prophet Isaiah does an exceptional job of showing us six of the these forms used by Hashem:

Isaiah 11:2
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

If we pull out Hashem’s influences (ruach) from this passage they would look like this;

Strength (Might)
Fear of the Lord

Remember this is not an inclusive list of synonyms for Hashem’s ruach, just some examples.

In summation a crude way of illustrating the ruach in relation to the other two parts of the soul (nephesh and neshamah) is by imagining a radio.  The nephesh, which is the simplest part of the soul, would be the body of the radio and it’s battery.  The neshamah which is the soul’s highest level would be represented by the radio’s complex circuitry designed to receive signal.  The ruach would be the signal that affects the radio.


(1) Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Soul

(2) Rabbi Chaim Miller, Stack Exchange

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

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

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