The Levels of the Soul:Based on his analysis, I have produced this chart:
And here are the levels of the nefesh, ruach and neshamah,.... [residing in] the brain (Moach), heart (Lev) [and] liver (Kaved), which together spell MeLeCH ('king').
The portion of the nefesh, in the liver, is the vital power, the natural power, in which the power of sustenance [resides] as well as the power to give sustenance to all the limbs, also the power to grasp the food one requires, the power of growth and the power of reproduction of the [human] form, the power to sense, i.e. hearing, sight, taste, smell and touch. All these reside in the natural soul (nefesh).
The portion of the ruach, in the heart, is the will. It directs all one's forces according to its will, like a king directs his people according to his will. And just as a king gives sustenance to his princes, courtiers and servants, distributing to each one his sustenance and food, from the bread of his bosom, as is appropriate for each according to his station, so too does the living ruach that is in the heart sustain all the powers and provide for all the limbs, as is appropriate for each one.
The portion of the neshamah, in the brain, is the intellectual thought that rules over all the others. In order to make you understand this, you have to know that before the will that is in the heart desires to do anything that it wants to do, it arises in the thought in the brain, which it thinks what to do. After it is agreed in the thought that is in the brain what to do, then the thought that is in the brain is clothed in the will that is in the heart. Then one's thought is completed by the will of the heart, i.e. the ruach....Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz (c.1570-1626) Shnei Luchot HaBrit (reprint of 1863 ed.; Jerusalem: 1975), Bet Yisra'el, v.I, p.7d.
|nefesh||liver||vital force||sustenance, growth, sex, senses|
|ruach||heart||will||control of body, (emotions)|
Then, having understood the three levels of the soul, one can then try to imagine an extra degree of each level entering into oneself during the course of the Erev Shabbat Service. In fact, Alexander Susskind has provided us with 'entry points' for them, as I shall explain.
The traditional (Ashkenazi) Kabbalat
Shabbat ('Welcoming the Sabbath) service for Erev Shabbat opens with with
a series of six psalms (Pss. 95, 96, 97, 98, 99 and 29) corresponding to
the days of the working week. In fact, they seem to be designed to help
us renew our belief and faith in God's sovereignty and cast of the worries
of the week that has passed. These are then followed by Lecha Dodi, the
poem by Shelomoh Alkabetz, one of the Kabbalists of Safed. At the last
verse of this song, many congregations have the custom of standing to face
the door and bow, as if the Sabbath Bride herself, the Shechinah, were
entering the synagogue. At this point, Susskind tells us, the extra degree
of lowest level of the soul, the nefesh, enters. His comment on
the opening words of the last verse of Lecha Dodi reads:
Come in peace.... A person should say this verse with an exceedingly mighty joy for during this verse a person receives the extra 'soul' (nefesh) associated with the evening of the holy Sabbath.
There are then two more psalms (92 & 93), followed by the Half Kaddish and then by the Barechu, the call to community prayer. this involves a response from the congregation. Says Susskind:Alexander Susskind (died 1794) Yesod VeShoresh Ha'Avodah (Jerusalem, 1978), p.164.
Before answering Blessed is GOD whom we are called to bless [forever and ever] one should concentrate on drawing to oneself the additional, extra 'soul' (ruach) and concentrate one's thoughts with these words: Behold, I am drawing to myself, and to all Israel, the additional, extra soul associated with the evening of the holy Sabbath.
The Shema and her blessings then follow, with the Amidah after that, but between these two units of the Evening Service proper is Hashkivenu ('Cause us, GOD our God, to lie down in peaceÖ'). This prayer mentions peace at several different points, and Susskind suggests:Alexander Susskind (died 1794) Yesod VeShoresh Ha'Avodah, p.166.
[At the words] And spread over us the shelter of Your peaceÖ and again at the words who spreads the shelter of peace over us... one should draw to and receive upon oneself the additional, extra 'spirit' (neshamah) associated with the Sabbath eve.... And at and over all this people Israel one should intend to draw the extra 'spirit' to all Israel.
What I try to do is stop briefly at each of the points that he mentions, and 'draw' the relevant level into myself with a deep breath. With practice, this can really enhance the Shabbat feeling.Alexander Susskind (died 1794) Yesod VeShoresh Ha'Avodah p.166.
And although Susskind makes no mention of this when the extra degrees of the soul depart at the end of the Sabbath, one could imagine this occurring during the ceremony of Havdalah ('Separation'). This entails then enjoyment of three things, with their accompanying blessings: wine, spices and the light of the havdalah candle. Perhaps we could imagine our extra degrees departing, in the reverse order to the arrival, as we recite the three blessings. Thus, the extra neshamah would depart with the blessing over the wine, the extra ruach with the blessing over the spices and the nefesh with the blessing over the burning candle, with the process being completed as we quench the candle's flame and drink the remaining wine.
Go back to 'Prayer is Itself Divinity'