Some concepts are scary for the animal soul. When it hears about spiritual concepts like self-transcendence or being nullified to a Higher Power, it panics. So in order to arouse the great love of G‑d that would elevate the animal soul, (dubbed the “fire from above”) it’s necessary to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your animal soul, getting it on board.

Here’s what a sample heart-to-heart can sound like:

Animal Soul: I’m hearing all this talk about bittul, about nullifying my existence, about being subservient to G‑d. You realize it doesn’t speak my language. I’m all about me … me … me!

You: Actually, it only appears that you are all about you. Here’s the fascinating thing. You actually come from a very high source. You really come from the fiery angels of Ezekiel’s chariot.

What is a chariot? A chariot does not have its own desire. A driver never asks his chariot which direction it wants to go. The driver drives the chariot, and it has no will of its own.

In your source, you have none of your own will. You get excited to be one with G‑d and experience a love of G‑d.

When you think of your animal’s source in the spiritual chariot, something will “click” for you. It will talk to you. You will realize that it is actually more natural for you to get excited to serve G‑d than anything else.

Animal Soul: But that is totally not me! I would have to be a completely new creation to start loving G‑d. I don’t feel like I “like” G‑d! I love pizza. Sensual pleasures. Vacations. Loving G‑d is just not my thing!

You: It’s true that you have an ability to want and desire material things, but you aren’t as wrapped up with the object of your desire as you think. You can separate your instinct and ability for pleasure from the object of your pleasure. Which means you can still love, but instead of loving physicality, you can love G‑d, the source of it all.

You’re not totally changing your essence, and you don’t really need to change yourself. You need to just remember your real original source—a fiery passionate love of G‑d. You need to reveal what you already are in your essence.

Animal Soul: What about my “self” and all its desires?

You: This is the real “self,” and this is the real you. When you understand this, everything will change.

You already love, and you can disengage from the physical pleasures and channel it to G‑d. It’s who you really are, and ultimately, a relief to stop trying to fight your truest desire. Your true desire is to completely be nullified into your source, to surrender yourself completely to G‑d and to be a vehicle for His will. Deep down, you really want to transcend the self, not indulge in it.

Animal Soul: Oh, I get it. I see how beneath all the insatiable physical desires is a deep and burning desire to be one with G‑d, totally surrendered to Him.

Yes, in order to get your animal soul wholeheartedly on board, it needs to buy in. And it’s your job to get it to. This is “talk” you can have with your own animal soul, and what prayer is all about: getting the animal soul’s buy-in.

The above thought process itself is important so that the animal soul comes on board, and this is called “the fire from below.” The “fire from below” gives birth to a love that is based on the animal soul’s recognition that its source is the angels of the chariot. This then activates the “fire from above,” where the source of the animal soul itself is revealed and the love of G‑d then burns in the animal soul.

When the animal soul’s true essence is revealed, it can disengage from physical pleasures and pine after spirituality. It is suddenly like a whole new animal.

This is the reason for all the talk about angels in the prayers preceding the Shema. When the animal soul hears about how the angels are nullified to G‑d and completely surrendered to Him, it helps the animal soul with its own process of surrendering to G‑d. It recognizes that in its source, it is just like these angels, and that deep down, this is the only thing it really craves—oneness with G‑d.

And when the animal soul gets so refined, this replicates exactly what the sacrifices in the Temple accomplished: the elevation of the animal soul and the transcendence of self.

Soul Note: Essentially, the truest desire of the animal soul is to be one with G‑d, but it is our job to speak its language to get it on board.

Source: The Maamar, ki teitzei limilchama, in Likkutei Torah as explained in Chassidut Mevueret, Chapter 3.