The great kabbalists explain that all living things – human and animal – have souls. However, not all souls are created equal. As described in Genesis 2:7, every human being has both a “nefesh” and a “neshama.” The nefesh is defined as an animal soul – the life force, the instinctual, animalistic drives. The neshama, in contrast, is a purely spiritual component, a divine spark which distinguishes man from animal. This is the part of us which yearns for spirituality and closeness to God.
Humans and animals all engage in emotional responses such as love, fear, loyalty, imagination, memory, intelligence, etc. We run from danger, have survival instincts, and are driven to procreate. This all emanates from the lower animal soul.
But there exists in humans another spiritual entity that is very different and much higher. Humans also have a divine, spiritual soul. Only this soul has the ability to forge a relationship with the Divine, transcendent dimension of existence. This is where humans enter the unique realm of making free will moral decisions. Only humans have the ability to choose higher “soul pleasures” – like helping the poor, even at the expense lower “body pleasures” like hoarding more food for ourselves.
Most people today are experts in nurturing their physicality. Are we hungry? Then we eat. Thirsty? We drink. But when it comes to “How can I get in touch with my soul?”, the answer is less simple.
As society has become more socially aware and responsible, we are urged to consider our individual carbon footprint, how our consumption impacts the sustainability of our planet. But, we should be equally mindful of our “spiritual footprint”, what impact will we have on the moral fabric of humanity and what spiritual legacy will we leave behind for future generations.
Today, ask yourself “How can I increase my spiritual footprint in this world?”