Friday, July 06, 2007


For some time I've been reading Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz's book OPENING THE TANYA: DISCOVERING THE MORAL & MYSTICAL TEACHINGS OF A CLASSIC WORK OF KABBALAH. The book is a commentary on a classic Jewish spiritual text. It is unlike any other material on Kabbalah that I have read to date. Some of the things Rabbi Steinsaltz writes were interesting and even startling. In the passages quoted from the book, the bolding is mine.

The Tanya talks about each human being having two souls. Steinsaltz addresses the animal soul first:

...the soul enclothes itself in the blood of the human being. It hides itself in the blood and manifests itself in the blood, providing the body with the spiritual force of life and vitality, and hiding behind the body's obscuring veil of corporeality. The blood is the medium through which the animal soul--the spiritual force that supplies the body with physical life--manifests itself. (p. 60-61)

How would a Jew view our sacrament of the Eucharist in light of that belief?

...even in the animal, biological sense, the Jewish soul is a species unto itself. Just as living things are a unique genre in creation, and the human being is a unique species of animal, so is the Jew a unique species of human. ...in keeping with the Talmudic statement, "Three distinguishing features mark this people: they are compassionate, bashful, and charitable. So integral are these qualities to the Jewish character that it was said that whoever does not exhibit these traits is not of the seed of Israel. (p. 64-65)

To be Continued...

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