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What's this "Jewish soul" Thing? Aren't We All One?

What's this "Jewish soul" Thing? Aren't We All One?

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Question:

Why do you speak of a "Jewish soul"? How can you put souls in boxes?

I think that, at a certain point, the question every human being will ask is "Who am I?" Ultimately, we discover that there are no attributes. To me, that is the essence of spirituality: there is a transcendence that we can experience that is beyond Jewish or Christian or Islam or Buddhist or even Atheist. Isn't it absurd to think that a soul has attributes like Jewish or non Jewish or black or white, etc?

Gary

Answer:

Dear Gary,

The idea that all souls are the same is one of the biggest mistakes of modern spirituality. We are so used to thinking that definitions create barriers and barriers cause hatred that we are convinced that to be spiritual means to have no borders. From a Kabbalistic perspective, this totally misses the point of existence.

Before creation, G-d had unity. G-d was all there was; there were no borders, definitions or distinctions. If unchallenged unity is what G-d wants, He had it already. He would not have created the world.

Creation was an act of making borders. From unity came multiplicity. Ours is a world of divisions: body and soul, male and female; as well as the divisions of nations, families and individuals.

Why did G-d create multiplicity? Doesn't that go against the oneness of G-d? No, it doesn't. Because the deepest unity is unity found within diversity. If we are all the same, then unity is no big deal. So G-d gave us all particular souls, each with its unique and diverse chartacteristics. When each individual as an individual, and each nation from within its own culture and perpective, recognizes the same G-d, that is real unity.

In other words, a unity that is challenged by diversity yet emerges from that very diversity is an invincible unity. That is something G-d "couldn't" have without a world like ours.

To blur the boundaries between nations, genders and individuals is to avoid facing the challenge which lies at the very heart of G-d's purpose in creation -- to find unity in our differences.

For the unity of humankind we need one G-d; but for G-d's unity to be complete we need human diversity.

Jews should be Jews, non-Jews should be non-Jews, men should be men and women should be women. And every individual has to be himself. Only then can we learn from each other the wisdom that we ourselves lack.

The majesty of G-d is revealed when each individual and comunity connects with Him from his/her/their unique vantage point. There is a contribution that only you can make to G-d's master plan. That's why you were born as you are -- a Jew, a male, and and the other distintive spiritual chasracteristicts that make you "Gary."

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (60)
July 29, 2014
I'm not sure if this thread is still active, but I found it fascinating to read. I recently found out that my maternal great great grandfather was a Prussian Jew. He married a Christian from Poland and they came to the UK and raised a family (all with Jewish names, which were passed down as far as my Grandmother, who is still alive). I've been raised Christian, but have always felt very Jewish. I listen to Israel National News, read Jewish publications, listen to Rabbis online and long to live in Israel. I feel like converting could be G-d's calling for me. However, watching a currently rise in anti-Semitism across Europe reminds me again what a huge responsibility it would be. It is indeed quite confusing!
Amy
UK
April 29, 2014
What is being confused here by Rabbi Moss is not his well-taken point that diversity is God’s plan and for us to experience unity within that diversity--it is what Gary wants to understand regarding the soul. The soul has nothing to do with attributes or who “Gary” is. Being Gary, Jewish or male or your skin color are all equivalent attributes compared to the soul. These attributes are what makes us unique, I may be an Ethiopian Jewish man who is a physician and a father of 3 girls--all which will provide me with my unique identity and opportunities and challenges--those are what we call our attributes (masks). My fellow Ethiopian who is Christian and female, has 3 boys and is a politician has her unique attributes. On the soul level we are the same. God is not only color blind, God is blind to gender and to religion. The attributes are ours to fulfill on or to change.
David Sanders
Denver
July 27, 2012
TO: You cannot choose your soul
Hi Katin,
I just wanted to check that you are saying that a convert to Judaism is not "becoming Jewish" but she has ALWAYS been a Jew from the very beginning ( as chosen by Hashem)

Thank you for your commentary. It is very reassuring to find your take on that.

I am a convert. And I have been a Jew for about nine years now.
When I was born, I arrived out of my Mother and then they baptized me and made me Roman Catholic.

I was a very devout Catholic, who would go to church almost daily if I could.

But there was always a leaning tendency towards Israel, Jews. e.g. When I was four years old, I looked at the front page of the news paper, and there was Ariel Sharon and Arafat photographs- I just instantly liked the Ariel Sharon photograph better, not know what it meant etc

Now I am a Reform Jew but I observe a lot of the Modern Orthodox practices since my closest friends are all Modern Orthodox.

But I wonder what happens to the other souls? How would good Catholics reach G-d?
Ariela
May 14, 2012
You cannot chose your soul
Maybe I'm going one step further than "our" Rabbi Aron here, but I believe that there're only two kind of souls: The Jewish and the Non-Jewish soul.
There's no such thing as a Christian soul for example. Because, being a Christian or a Muslim or any other religion is something you chose after your soul had been given to you. You can become a Christian or join any other religion at any time in your life and leave them again whenever you like and you won't lose your soul over it.

A Jew, however, is born with a Jewish soul. You can not choose to be a Jew. You cannot choose your soul. You cannot change your soul either. You received it from G-d. Hence, you either are a Jew with a Jewish soul or you are not. Even when someone converted to Judaism, he didn't become a Jew, but has always been a Jew from the very beginning as he was chosen by G-d.
Katrin
February 22, 2012
Charles, the Go-d I know is kind and good.
Does He expect us to be perfect? Absolutely not. In fact, we will be made perfect AFTER death, in that our spirit will join with G-d in the after life. No more physical pains or emotional angst. What do you know about the grace and forgiveness and goodness of Go-d? I believe G-d created all of us, and we are all one in humanity. The point of a Jewish soul is for us, and not for G-d. It is so we can have a sense of belonging to a wider group of people, that's all.
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
February 22, 2012
Sorry for Earlier Comment
In an earlier comment I said not all Jews possess a Jewish soul. I'm sorry to say such a thing. I should have kept quiet. I would never want to say anything wrong or false in this discussion, even seemingly so. It's just that I'm worried that our behavior might cause us to loose our Jewish soul. I'm worried that in our hour of Divine Judgement, the L-rd in His mercy may give us the opportunity to surrender our soul. He might tell me: you are a Jew but in your life did you act like a Jew? Consider well and tell Me how shall I judge you - as a Jew according to the Law of Moses, or not as a Jew according to the laws of Noah? At that hour, I fear the L-rd in His mercy might allow me to loose my Jewish soul. Can this be?
Charles Kerr
Honolulu, HI
February 14, 2012
To Carmine in Fl. You said,
"you say everyone has a different soul and thus only Jews are bound for a resurrection body". No one said that, Carmine. This is in your own mind. Jews don't believe in a resurrection such as described about jesus LONG after he died. (This was a myth, you know. Try counting from Good Friday until Sunday Morning and you 'll see that is not three days and three nights). Jesus was not resurrected. Sorry. That is only one of the untruths in the New Testament. Another is that a Jew (Jesus) would say "This is my blood, drink it". Jews do not drink blood or eat people's bodies. This was not a Jewish thing! If it was a Passover supper, Jesus still could not take the place of a sacrificial mammal. The bible abhors human sacrifice. Etc. So, no Jewish person would have said only we are going to be resurrected. In fact, our ideas of after-death are very different than yours. Did you know we don't believe in Hell?
Karen Joyce Chaya Fradle Kleinman Bell
Riverside, CA, USA
February 14, 2012
Jewish soul?
Can someone please explain why a Jewish soul should be different to a Noahide/gentile who is observant of Jewish teaching. As once Jews were Noahides and in fact still are by being the sons of Noah as we all are! Jews were chosen by Hashem to a very high calling of being a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations. But we all come from the same stock - do we not?
Anonymous
Kidwelly, Dyfed
December 3, 2011
ALEXANDRA
Alexandra, I get the impression that you think Gentiles/Xians are carefree and happy. May I direct you to their belief in eternal Hellfire? Imagine living with that horror lurking in your psyche! Their worship of a human being as God- does that make for happiness, or insanity? Be thankful you're Jewish.
Barbara
Melbourne, Australia
June 20, 2011
To Alexandra
I used to feel the same way as you. If I were not Jewish, I thought, I'd have no more depression, angst, whatever. That sensitivity to your own and others' pain. I want to point out a few things.One, not all non-Jews/Christians are "happy." Two, sometimes what looks like happiness is just shallowness and denial, three, if you could change, SERIOUSLY, would you really? I think if you somehow changed your mind and soul so as not to "feel Jewish" or perceive the world in a "Jewish way" you would not feel happy, just confused and alienated from yourself. You might feel like part of your soul had been murdered. I am sorry to say that this was my own experience. Your sensitivity is a gift. Use it to make art or help other people who are suffering.
Samantha L.
Longmont, CO
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