1. The Tension of Two

“In the beginning, One G-d created two”—two basic features, symbolized by heavens and Earth, light and darkness, good and evil. The contrast creates meaning. As one rises, the other falls.  There is ongoing tension between these two universal entities and our job is to reconcile it.

 

Using the story of creation, we will begin by examining what it means to be human, a creature comprising elements from two distinct dimensions—the animal world and the celestial realm— and feeling a sense of belonging to both.

 

Judaism teaches that every individual has two souls: an animal soul and a spiritual soul. More precisely, the spiritual soul descends into—and is enveloped by—a body and an animal soul.

The purpose of the soul’s descent into the body is to reveal the harmony that is inherent within the created world, beginning with the “miniature world,” the human.

 

It is the animal soul that we initially experience and identify with more. The term “animal soul” has no moral connotation; it does not necessarily suggest lustful or harmful. Though it can include these qualities, it can also be intelligent and refined, even kind. Animal means natural, the most basic form of life force or energy that inhabits and enlivens the body. Being on intimate terms with the physical body, its fundamental drive is more egocentric, as opposed to the spiritual soul—the higher self—which is essentially altruistic and possesses a divine orientation.

 

Though these two souls possess opposite drives, their structure is identical. Each has ten “powers” and three “garments”— thought, speech, and action—that allow the soul to interact with the outside world. We will diagram and explain each of these soul powers and garments, their function and advantage, as well as how they affect our conscious perception and experience.