Contact Us
Our souls impact several levels of spiritual worlds.

Names of the Soul

Names of the Soul

"Gate of Reincarnations": Chapter One, Section 1

Beginner Beginner
 Email
Names of the Soul
Our souls impact several levels of spiritual worlds.

We will begin with what the rabbis wrote that the Nefesh has five names.

From the bottom up they are Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida.

Translated, they are:

Yechida

Singular

Chaya

Life (Force)

Neshama

Breath

Ruach

Wind

Nefesh

(that which has come to) Rest

Each of these levels represents a different level of light that originated from Ein Sof, the Infinite light emanating out from G‑d. On the level of Yechida, the light is still very sublime and unified; on the level of Chaya, it is less so, but it is considered to be the life force of all that comes after it. "Neshama" is derived from the word "neshima," which means breath, because this level of soul is said to be like a breath in the mouth of G‑d, so-to-speak. Ruach is the soul-light as it leaves the stage of Neshama, like a breath blown out of the mouth of a person. The soul-light comes to rest on the level called Nefesh, which is in the blood of a physical human being, and therefore it acts as an interface between the spiritual and the physical.

When a person performs righteous deeds, it unifies the levels of his soul

Certainly, these names have not been ascribed by chance or convenience. Rather, know that the person himself is the spiritual element within the body, while the body is only a garment for the person - not the person himself. This is what is written, "It shall not be smeared on human flesh..." (Ex. 30:32), as is noted in Zohar, Parashat Bereishit, 20b.

In other words, "flesh of man" implies that the flesh belongs to man, but it is not the man himself. "Flesh of man" is only the body and exterior garment; it is not the real man. It is, therefore, not worthy to be anointed.

Since man connects all four worlds of ABY"A...[an acronym formed from the initial letters of Atzilut, Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya]

Correspondance of the Four Worlds and the Parts of the Soul:

Atzilut

Emanation

Chaya

Beriya

Creation

Neshama

Yetzira

Formation

Ruach

Asiya

Action

Nefesh

A very important concept is implied by our text here. Even though a person’s physical body is miniscule compared to the physical world, his spiritual soul spans all five spiritual worlds that emanate from Ein Sof. Since there is a direct and automatic correlation between the levels of soul and the levels of worlds, man’s actions, besides having a direct impact on his soul, have a direct impact on the corresponding spiritual worlds. When a person performs righteous deeds, it unifies the levels of his soul, and hence, the four worlds as well; the opposite is true if a person sins.

Since man connects all four worlds of ABY"A, by necessity, there has to exist within him sections from all four worlds, and each section is called by one of the five names: NRNCh"Y (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida), as we will explain. [To link to a related article, The Glassblower Analogy, click here.]

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

[Publisher’s note: An integral part of Kabbala study is to review the material a number of times.]

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria […Ashkenazi ben Shlomo] (5294-5332 = 1534-1572 c.e.); Yahrtzeit (anniversary of death): 5th of Av. Buried in the Old Cemetery of Tzfat. Commonly known as the Ari, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzchak, the
G-dly Rabbi Isaac. No other master or sage ever had this extra letter Aleph, standing for Elohi [G-dly], prefaced to his name. This was a sign of what his contemporaries thought of him. Later generations, fearful that this appellation might be misunderstood, said that this Aleph stood for Ashkenazi, indicating that his family had originated in Germany, as indeed it had. But the original meaning is the correct one, and to this day among Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria is only referred to as Rabbenu HaAri, HaAri HaKadosh [the holy Ari] or Arizal [the Ari of blessed memory].
Yitzchok bar Chaim is the pseudonym of the translator, an American-born Jerusalem scholar who has studied and taught Kabbala for many years. He may be contacted through: webmaster@kabbalaonline.org. He translated the Ari's work, "Shaar HaGilgulim;" his translation into English (but with much less extensive commentary than offered here). Information about his translation in book form may be obtained through www.thirtysevenbooks.com
Rabbi Chaim Vital c. 5303-5380 (c. 1543-1620 CE), major disciple of R. Isaac (Yitzchak) Luria, and responsible for publication of most of his works.
Shabtai Teicher, a descendant of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Reshab, was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and settled in Jerusalem in 1970. He studied for over 7 years with one of the outstanding and renowned kabbalists of our generation, Rabbi Mordechai Attieh, and also studied deeply in various other fields of Jewish scholarship. He was a specialist in Lurianic Kabbala, edited and annotated the first eleven chapters of our English rendition of "Shaar HaGilgulim," and completed his manuscripts for "Zohar: Old Man in the Sea," in both Hebrew and English, shortly before his unfortunate passing in November 2009.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
5 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Brian Hyde June 29, 2015

I understood that the body is the "temple" of the immortal spirit and when the spirit enters the body it there is a living soul. However, I understand that "soul" and "spirit" are interchangeable words for many since "soul" suggests the centre of personality feelings and emotions. Our essential self and the knowledge of what we experience in each life is stored by the spirit but that knowledge is not consciously available when the spirit is incarnate. Reply

Anonymous athens September 9, 2014

I expect in my next reincarnation to be more lucky and to be more wise in next reincarnation. Reply

Anonymous South Yorkshire UK England. August 22, 2014

Nefesh (that which has come to) Rest # Or has found peace ! The peace that passeth all understanding  Nefesh (that which has come to) Rest # Or has found peace ! The peace that passeth all understanding, At one :) Reply

joni AlianNejadi tehran, Iran July 7, 2012

soul Reply

Julie Durham, UK June 6, 2011

Soul and its nature. From your article it would appear that our souls are never actually separate form the highest spiritual dimension. Do we in fact have a separate soul or is our soul more like a portion of G-d? Reply

Related Topics

The larger, bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source.

The smaller, plain text is the explanation of the translator/editor.
Text with broken underline will provide a popup explanation when rolled over with a mouse.