A Tale of Two Souls
James Scott Trimm
Did you know that as a believer you can have a second soul?
To begin with it is important to know that man has two inclinations, an evil inclination called the “Yetzer HaRa” and a good inclination called “Yetzer Tov”. The unusual spelling of Yetzer (“formed”) in Gen. 2:7 points us to the fat that man has within him two such inclinations. As we read in the Talmud:
R. Nahman b. R. Hisda expounded:
What is meant by the text, Then the Lord God
formed [va-yetzer] man? [The word va-yetzer] (Gen. 2:7)
is written with two yods, to show that God created
two inclinations, one good (tov) and the other evil (ra).
It has been taught: R. Jose the Galilean says,
The righteous are swayed by their good inclination,
as it says, My heart is slain within me. (Ps. 109:22)
The wicked are swayed by their evil inclination,
as it says, Transgression speaks to the wicked,
methinks, there is no fear of God before his eyes.
(Ps. 36:1) Average people are swayed by both
inclinations, as it says, Because He stands at
the right hand of the needy, to save him from them
that judge his soul. (Ps. 109:31) Raba said: People
such as we are of the average.
Likewise we read in the Wisdom of Ben Sira:
It was He who created man in the beginning.
And He left him in the power of his own inclination (Heb: yetzer).
If you will, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water:
Stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.
The word for “average” above (in b.Ber. 61b) is “benoni” referring to an “intermediate one”, one who is caught in the conflict between these two inclinations.
Paul writes of this conflict in the benoni as follows:
14 For we know that the Torah is of the spirit,
but I am of the flesh and I am sold to sin.
22 For I rejoice in the Torah of Eloah in the inward son of man.
(Romans 7:14, 22 HRV)
Because of this, we are not weary, for even if our
outer man is corrupted, yet that which [is] inside
is renewed day by day.
(2Cor. 4:16 HRV)
for the flesh desires a thing which is opposed to
the Spirit and the Spirit desires a thing that is
opposed to the flesh and the two of these are
opposed to each other, that you do not do the thing
which you desire.
(Gal. 5:17 HRV)
And as we read in the Tanya:
Just as two kings wage war over a town,
which each wishes to capture and rule,
that is to say, to dominate its inhabitants according to his will,
so that they obey him in all that he decrees for them,
so do the two souls— the Divine and the vitalising animal soul…
wage war against each other over the body and all its limbs.
(Tanya Chapter 9)
It is this evil inclination that David refers to in the Psalms when he writes:
Behold, I was shapen in iniquity;
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
The phrases “in iniquity” and “in sin” could also be translated “with iniquity” and “with sin” meaning that man was born with an evil inclination.
As we also read in 2Esdras:
And yet tookest thou not away from them a wicked heart, that thy law might bring forth fruit in them.
For the first Adam bearing a wicked heart transgressed, and was overcome; and so be all they that are born of him.
Thus infirmity was made permanent; and the law (also) in the heart of the people with the malignity of the root; so that the good departed away, and the evil abode still.
So the times passed away, and the years were brought to an end: then didst thou raise thee up a servant, called David:
Whom thou commandedst to build a city unto thy name, and to offer incense and oblations unto thee therein.
When this was done many years, then they that inhabited the city forsook thee,
And in all things did even as Adam and all his generations had done: for they also had a wicked heart:
This Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination) finds a comrade in our primal animal soul.
But you can have a second soul which is a ready comrade for the Yetzer Tov. As we read in the Tanya:
The second soul of a Jew is truly a part of Eloah above, as it is written, “And He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” (Gen. 2:7) and “Thou didst breathe it [the soul] into me.” (b.Berachot 60b). And it is written in the Zohar, “He who exhales, exhales from within him,” that is to say, from his inwardness and his innermost, for it is something of his internal and innermost vitality that man emits through exhaling with force.
(Tanya LA 2)
In the previous chapter the Tanya refers to this second soul, saying that these two souls are the “souls” referenced in Isaiah 57:16:
For I will not contend forever,
neither will I be always wroth:
for the spirit that enwraps itself is from Me,
and the souls which I have made.
(Is. 57:16 HRV)
This concept of a Second Soul is also found in the Zohar as follows:
It behooves a man to labor in the study of the Torah, to strive to make progress in it daily, so as thereby to fortify his soul and his spirit: for when a man occupies himself in the study of the Torah, he becomes endowed with an additional and holy soul, as it is written: “the movement of living creatures”, that is, a soul (nefesh) derived from the holy center called “living” (hayah). Not so is it with the man who does not occupy himself with the study of the Torah: such a man has no holy soul, and the heavenly holiness does not rest upon him. But when a man earnestly studies the Torah, then the motion of his lips wins for him that “living soul” and he becomes as one of the holy angels, as it is written: “Bless the Lord, ye angels of his” (Ps. 103:20), to wit, those who occupy themselves in the study of the Torah, and who are therefore called His angels on earth. The same are alluded to in the words: “and let birds fly on the earth”. So much for his reward in this world. As regards the other world, we have been taught that the Holy One, blessed be He, will provide them with wings as of eagles, enabling them to fly across the whole universe, as it is written: “But they that wait for YHWH shall renew their strength, then shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Is. 40:31). This, then, is the interpretation of that which is written: “Let the waters swarm with the movement of living creatures”: the Torah, which is symbolized by water, possesses the virtue of implanting in her devotees a mobile soul derived from the place called “living” (hayah), as has already been said. David alluded to this when he said: “Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim”, so that I may be devoted to the Torah, and thus “renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:12).
According to the Zohar this second soul is alluded to in Psalm 51 in the phrase “and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” If we look at this verse in context we see:
11 (51:9) Hide Your face from my sins:
and blot out all my iniquities.
12 (51:10) Create me a clean heart, O Elohim:
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
13 (51:11) Cast me not away from Your presence:
and take not Your Ruach HaKodesh from me.
14 (51:12) Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation:
and let a willing spirit uphold me!
(Ps. 51:11-14(9-12) HRV)
Here we see that this second soul strives against the Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination) mentioned just a few verses earlier in 51:5 “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5)
Now a spirit (ruach) is not a soul (nefesh) but it appears that according to the Zohar that there is in fact a spirit (ruach) attached to this second soul (nefesh) and from these verses we see that this spirit (ruach) is in fact the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Likewise the Ketivim Netzarim (Writings of the Nazarenes, known as the “New Testament”) indicate that Believers are endowed with a second spirit, i.e. the Ruach HaKodesh.
This second soul and second spirit are reinforcements to help the Yetzer Tov as we read in Ezekiel:
17 Therefore say, Thus says the Adonai YHWH: I will even gather you from the
peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered: and I will give you the land of Yisra’el.
18 And they shall come there, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof, and all the abominations thereof, from thence.
19 And I will give them–one heart–and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will remove the–stony heart–out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh,
20 That they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances, and do them: and they
shall be My people, and I will be their Elohim.
21 But as for them whose heart walks after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their way upon their own heads, says the Adonai YHWH
(Ezek. 11:17-21 HRV)
25 And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean. From all your uncleannesses and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away, the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you, a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them.
(Ezekiel 36:25-27 HRV)
And as our Messiah Yeshua taught us:
But when the Spirit of Truth has come,
She will lead you in all Truth,
for She will not speak from the mind of the nefesh:…
(Jn. 16:13a HRV)
It is this second soul that renews our strength and allows us to mount up with wings like eagles:
But they that wait for YHWH shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with
wings as eagles: they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.
(Is. 40:31 HRV)
Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman) (1194-1270 C.E.) wrote one of the most authoritative Torah commentaries in Rabbinic Judaism. He puts this well when he writes:
And YHWH your Elohim will circumcise your heart (Deut. 30:6) It is this which the Rabbis have said, “If someone comes to purify himself, they assist him” [from on High]. The verse assures you that you will return to Him with all your heart and He will help you.
This following subject is very apparent from Scripture: Since the time of Creation, man has had the power to do as he pleased, to be righteous or wicked. This [grant of free will] applies likewise to the entire Torah period, so that people can gain merit upon choosing the good and punishment for preferring evil. But in the days of the Messiah, the choice of
their [genuine] good will be natural; the heart will not desire the improper and it will have no craving whatever for it. This is the “circumcision” mentioned here, for lust and desire are the “foreskin” of the heart, and circumcision of the heart means that it will not covet or desire evil.
Man will return at that time to what he was before the sin of Adam, when by his nature he did what should properly be done, and there were no conflicting desires in his will, as I have explained in Seder Bereshit.
It is this which Scripture states in [the Book of] Jeremiah 31:30], Behold, the days come, says YHWH, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers ..etc. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Eternal, I will put my Law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it.
This is a reference to the annulment of the evil inclination and to the natural performance by the heart of its proper function. Therefore Jeremiah said further, and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My People; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying: ‘Know YHWH; ‘for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them
Now, it is known that the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth and it is necessary to instruct them, but at that time it will not be necessary to instruct them [to avoid evil] for their evil inclination will then be completely abolished. And so it is declared by Ezekiel, A new heart will I also give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will cause you to walk in My statutes . (Ezekiel 36:26)
The new heart alludes to man’s nature, and the [new] spirit to the desire and will. It is this which our Rabbis have said : “And the years draw nigh, when you shall say: I have no pleasure in them; these are the days of the Messiah, as they will offer opportunity neither for merit nor for guilt,” for in the days of the Messiah there will be no [evil] desire in man but he will naturally perform the proper deeds and therefore there will be neither merit nor guilt in them, for merit and guilt are dependent upon desire.
(Ramban on Deut. 29:6)
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