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What Are the Seven Types of Souls?

What Are the Seven Types of Souls?

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Question:

I've heard it said that the seven branches of the Menorah (candelabra) in the Holy Temple represent the seven types of souls. Can you please tell me the unique characteristics of these different souls?

Answer:

Man was created "in the image of G‑d" (Genesis 1:26). Among the many meanings inherent in this statement is that our souls' composition is the likeness G‑d's divine attributes.

There are seven middot (divine emotive attributes) -- Kindness, Severity, Harmony, Perseverance, Humility, Foundation, and Royalty. While every soul possesses all seven of these middot, one of these traits is most dominant, shaping the individual soul's unique service of G‑d.

Here is a brief description of the seven types of Jewish souls:

Chesed (Kindness) -- A soul whose service of G‑d is characterized by a calm and flowing love. This soul is also overflowing with love for his fellows.

Gevurah (Severity) – A soul who serves G‑d with awe and a flaming passion. This soul is also highly disciplined, with high expectations of himself and others.

Tiferet (Harmony) – The soul who has achieved a perfect synthesis of Kindness and Severity. This is accomplished through the study of Torah. Tiferet is also the source of the soul's capacity for compassion.

Netzach (Perseverance) – A soul who is constantly battling and struggling, but is ultimately triumphant.

Hod (Humility) – The soul who exemplifies self-abnegation in favor of allowing itself to be overwhelmed by G‑d's goodness.

Yesod (Foundation) – The soul whose unique talent is establishing giving relationships, intellectually or otherwise.

Malchut – (Royalty) The soul who serves its Creator in a majestic manner.

In the Tenple's menora, all seven branches were hewn from a single block of pure gold. We may have different dispositions and different methods of serving G‑d, but we are essentially one. We have one purpose and one mission, with different ways to accomplish the same goal -- serving our creator and being a menorah -- a guiding light -- for the entire world.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
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Yitzchak Chaim May 14, 2015

In response to "seven types"-G-d has no physical throne because He needs none. His creation is His "throne". All the colors in the universe are HIS. Having said that, colors are such awesome expressions of art and G-d's holiness. In Parshat Vayakhel Pekudei (Exodus 35), G-d commands Moses to tell Israel to bring wool of scarlet, blue, and purple. This is used in the tabernacle to construct the veil that protects the holy light of the Torah from external unholiness.
Notice that red (scarlet) and blue together creates purple. Mankind is weak and bleeds; blood is red. G-d flows infinitely like an everlasting river; water is blue. Purple is a combination of G-d's majesty and our humility-a new color that wouldn't exist without both foundation colors.
The seven colors of the rainbow (red,orange,yellow,green,blue, indigo,violet) begin with red (pain and sin) and end with violet (unity with Hashem). The rainbow is a promise that Mashiach will come and our souls will be one with Adonai forever. Reply

Eleazar Shlomo ben Yakov Goldman Guanajuato, Mexico March 18, 2012

The animal soul, nefesh, and the G-dly part of the soul, neshamah, would be merely an abbreviation of the more complex 5 aspects of the soul. The "49 aspects" refer to the divisions within the 7 lower Sephirot that are within that persons "nefesh-neshamah" or soul.

When a nefesh incarnates, generally speaking, it has a "TYPE" of soul connected to one of G-ds divine attributes through the system of planetary and zodiacal influences in that particular incarnation, as explained in DERECH HA-SHEM by the RaMChaL. As Rabbi Posner indicated, by TORAH study and observant living, a nefesh can bring equilibrium to all the middot in his soul. So, the "types" are only temporary states. There are positive archetypes of the middot, and there are negative expressions too, when an aspect is too excessive. Equilibrium nullifies excess.

Nevertheless, a Jewish soul is "ain mazal", meaning his or her soul has direct access to G-d and can bypass the system of planetary and astrological influence. Reply

Anonymous sicklerville, NJ April 14, 2011

Do the seven types corolate to the colors on Gods throne. If so what colors represent the 7 types shown above. Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada September 4, 2009

Hello again Rabbi - I have been thinking more about the issue of souls. You can check me if I am wrong, or, just let my interpretation stand, as I am in the early stages of learning about souls.
I interpret The Alter Rebbe as meaning the Animal soul and G-dly soul as two parts of one soul. Similarly with the 5 levels of soul, Nefesh Ruach, Neshuma, Chayya, Yechida ... again one soul, five individual features/functions.
The soul that gives me pause to consider is the ' extra/second ' Shabbat Soul. It sounds separate , but could be an expansion of the soul we carry throughout the week.
Any light that you can shine o the above will be appreciated.
Good Shabbos ! Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada August 31, 2009

Thanks Rabbi. I was caught by the title and question. I did not read your answer properly. I suppose that there are 7 Archtypes posited by the Alter Rebbe. Every human being would be a unique combination of dominant and recessive traits.
Thanks for your patience. Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org August 30, 2009

Please read the article again and you will understand what I wrote. Each of our souls is comprised of the seven emotional aspects described in the article. Now, every person is different. Hence, different aspects are more dominant in different people. Following this teaching, the Alter Rebbe concludes that there are seven types of people—each with a different type of souls where another aspect is dominant.

This is not the same as the two souls which we all have. These seven souls belong to seven unique individuals. Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada August 29, 2009

In your Chabad.Org Ideas and Beliefs, I chanced upon an article by Yankl Tauber. The title is " What is a soul ? " I was told that your Alter Rebbe source Torah Or : 33 is in Hebrew and that the text is fairly complicated. Notwithstanding my inability to translate Hebrew, Tauber also uses references to the Alter Rebbe. Tauber interprets The Alter Rebbe 's writings as one soul with two parts, Animal Soul and G-dly Soul.
The point I make here is your use of the word types, as in seven types of souls, is not accurate. The Alter Rebbe refers to two parts. Regarding the seven attributes that lodge in these two types, each attribute, Chesed, Gevurah etc. stores all seven types of attributes within their individual realms. t These seven attributes storing seven types of attributes produces 7x7=49 combinations. For example, one can start with Chesed. Chesed will have Chesed Chesed, Chesed Gavurah, Chesed Tiferet etc.
My opposition to "types" is for clarity, and not winning an argument Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada August 27, 2009

Unfortunately I could not find the source on Google. Would you kindly tell me how I can read the Torah Or: 33 for myself ? When it comes to the Alter Rebbe, his pivotal book is Tanya. In it he defines two elements of the human soul, Animal and G-dly. Kabbalah and Chassidus go into 5 levels of the soul : Nefesh, Ruach, Nashuma, Chayya and Yechida. Until I read your source, the word type remains a red herring. Attributes are not types. Attributes are traits or paths. All seven attributes are present in each soul level. Every human being has a unique mixture of all seven, and they can be modified. An earlier commentator spoke about 600,000 types of souls. I reckon that he is referring to the 600,000 souls that were present prior to Creation. Even here I think that the word unique is a better fit. However, it does show how loosely the word type gets fuzzy, whether used to describe 7 or to describe 600,000.
In any case, I will try to get the reference/interpretation which you pointed out. Reply

Menachem Posner (author) August 26, 2009

This answer was based on the teaching of the Alter Rebbe found in Torah Or 33:c.
I am assuming that this is what Gershon was referring to as well. Gershon, if you have another similar source, please share it with us. Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada August 26, 2009

Kindly post your reference source for the 7 types of souls. Somehow I have learned that the Alte Rebbe based his writings on only two souls, Animal soul and G-dly soul. I am not a Torah scholar, but I still am confused that Rabbi Posner listed the seven attributes/sefirot from the Tree of Life, and used the word soul. I may be at a loss in Hebrew as I don't know the language, but in English, words have an individual precise meaning. There are synonymns, but no two words are identical. Notwithstanding this factoid, it will be intersting to read your source.
Thanks again. Reply

michael penkar August 25, 2009

how do we know hich soul we have? Reply

gershon mcgreevy March 6, 2009

this explanation that there are 7 types of souls (and that each of us is dominated by one attribute) is actually found in torah or by the alter rebbe Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada March 5, 2009

It still looks to me like the word "type" is being improperly used. I did not get an answer here about types of souls versus attributes of souls. Reply

gershon mcgreevy March 5, 2009

I think that the author simply means that the Jewish nation comprises of all these types of souls--not that others cannot fall into these categories. Reply

Estrella DeMadrigal March 5, 2009

Why are these souls only applied to Jews? Don't Gentiles have these types of souls too? Reply

Ari Edson thornhill, ont March 28, 2008

There are six hundred thousand types of souls. Just how those six hundred thousand souls are linked with the seven branches of the menorah is something to be asked to a rabbi or mashpia who learns chassidus.

The three parts of the soul in acronym NR"N is discussed in Tanya chapter 3. However the discussion of this subject is only mentioned to give some background to the subject concepts are spoken of in brief. (This main intention of the Tanya is to give the average guy a rational guide for moral improvement of the individual through the mystical component found in Torah.) However there are discourses of the Alter Rebbe in which an explanation of the three parts of the soul are mentioned in greater length. Generally speaking, the three parts of the soul are there divisions of the ten sefiros. See the philosophy of Chabad by Rabbi Nissan Mendel. Reply

Anonymous winnipeg, canada March 27, 2008

The heading types of souls is incorrect. The heading should be characteristics of souls or the seven emotional attributes of souls. There are only two types of souls: the animal soul and the G-dly soul. One could also say five parts of soul: nefesh ruach, nashuma, hayyah and yehida Reply

chanie October 20, 2007

bearing in mind the comment above, if you are a gevura personality, is it better to look for a spouse who is more chesed or more gevura- or a different midda entirely? Reply

Menachem Posner June 14, 2007

In chassidic teachings, the conquest of the Land of Israel (which was originally in the hands of the seven Canaanite nations) is compared to the "conquest" of the seven attributes, the struggle to refine and elevate them.
Not every one of us has the ability to completely change our actual feelings. We can control them but may not be able to remake ourselves entirely. Only the tzaddik, who is endowed with a special soul, has the capability to completely transform his emotions and feelings.
Even though the rest of us may not completely succeed, we must still strive to do so. And we can all achieve a certain measure of success.
How do we approach this task?
Maimonides tells us that "practice makes perfect." Through concentrating on changing the particular areas where we lack, we can change our emotions to some degree. "Our hearts follow our deeds." By acting in a certain way, we begin to feel the same way too. Reply

Anonymous owasso, ok June 13, 2007

excellent!! One question, if one desires to "strengthen" (so to speak) one or more of his particular middot can it be done? And if so, how??? Thank you. Reply