Our Two Souls
May the God of shalom make you completely holy — may your entire spirit, soul and body be kept blameless for the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. The one calling you is faithful, and He will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24
Reading Torah opens a whole new world of understanding for us. Here we may find godly understandings for our earthly behaviours. For example, in Genesis 1:21 we learn Adonai created animal life. The rabbis, writing in Talmud, share with us each animal was given ‘nefesh’, a ‘soul’ or animal nature, which is not spiritual but is physical. The nefesh is the seat of egocentric behavior, designed to guide the animal towards security, survival and procreation. Nefesh is totally focused on self and meeting personal needs. Then, in Genesis 1:26, the creation of humankind is introduced to us. This soul belongs to us; It is our human nature. Humans were given an additional soul, so explain the rabbis, called ‘neshamah’, which is spiritual not physical. Through neshamah we gain an understanding of the human part of life, those aspects of cooperation, collaboration, kindness, interdependence, chessed (loving-kindness) and tzedakah (correct, ethical, God-inspired behaviour). This soul belongs to Adonai; it is His alone. Nefesh, the rabbis explain, is complete and cannot evolve any further, whereas neshamah is constantly evolving, allowing humans the opportunity, if desired, to become more God-like in our thinking and active behavior – transformed more in His likeness, if you will.
As human beings, we have both nefesh, for survival, security and procreation, and neshamah, to live God-centred ethical lives. A question arises, then, how much control do we have over either of our nefesh, our human nature, and our neshamah, our spiritual souls? Here is where our beloved Abba plays the major role. Once we have accepted Adonai Elyon/Adonai Yeshua into our lives, in the presence of the Holy Spirit of the Living God, we have an ally in the constant battle between our nefesh and our neshamah.
In our human existence, our nefesh continually encourages, challenges, pushes us to accumulate more – wealth, toys, power, influence – while our neshamah urges us to share what we accumulate with those less fortunate. This is what Adonai Yeshua meant, when He told His talmidim, His disciples, in Luke 12:33 – “Sell what you own and do tzedakah — make for yourselves purses that don’t wear out, riches in heaven that never fail, where no burglar comes near, where no moth destroys.” Then He caps this teaching with, “For where your wealth is, there your heart (nefesh) will be also” (Luke 12:34). Very clearly in this teaching, Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, is urging us to live-up to the two fundamental commandments of Torah – Love Adonai with all your heart/soul, mind and strength and Love your neighbour as yourself. Is His teaching telling us we should not accumulate wealth? — Absolutely not! What He is exhorting us to do is take the gift of wealth accumulation we have been given and share it with those who are in greater need. There are so many ways of doing this, other than merely handouts. For example, providing for the training of those who need to relearn, in order to enter the workforce, is a desperate need for our society. In this activity of tzedakah, leaving that up to governments alone, as we know, will not work; we need to be involved much more actively.
Beloved, all of us are involved in a tug-of-war, literally, between the desires of our human natures (nefesh) and our spiritual soul (neshamah). Our role in this battle is to bring the two together, so they work in tandem — we ensure our self-centred desires are directed outwardly to fulfill Adonai’s command to us – Love your neighbour as yourself.
CONSIDER: Where is your heart? Do you consider yourself poor, because you don’t have enough money or ‘things’ or rich, because you do? Are your human and spiritual natures in sync with each other or are they battling for preëminence?
ACTION: In everything give thanks. This advice from Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, frees us from worrying about money or ‘things’; giving thanks to God takes the spotlight off our needs and places it where it belongs, on Him. He will secure our needs for us, if we but trust Him.
PRAY: Beloved Abba, Eternal God, thank you for all that you do for my family and me; thank You for providing our needs and ensuring we have what is required to serve You. B’Shem Adonai Yeshua Mashichainu. In Your Beloved Name I pray, Amein.
May the God Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov bless you fully and richly.
Art: Bruce Rolff