Eighteen morning blessings are said each day upon arising, after
one has dressed and washed hands. The third blessing deals with the Jewish
My G-d, the soul which You have given within me is pure. You have created it, You have formed it, You have breathed it into me, and You preserve
it within me. You will eventually take it from me, and restore it within me in
Time to Come. So long as the soul is within me, I offer thanks to You, L-rd my
G-d and G-d of my fathers, Master of all works, L-rd of all souls. Blessed are
You L-rd, who restores souls to dead bodies.
"A person is a small world" (Bereishit Rabbah 78:12). In a sense
each one of us reflects the entire creation. While we are asleep, conscious control
is suspended and our souls return to their source. This corresponds to the state
of reality before the world was created. When a person awakens and his divine
soul reenters his body, he re-enacts the creation by drawing the divine energy
back into him.
My G-d... Who is talking here? Given
that a human being is an entity comprised of different spiritual and physical
elements, the speaker cannot be the body, for the body without the soul is like
an inanimate rock.
On the other hand, if the speaker is the soul, why is it referring
to itself in third person?
have given... The basis for the answer is that in addition
to his body, every Jew has two souls - a G-dly soul that is linked to the Infinite, and an animal
(animating, animalistic) soul, totally tied to material reality. The G-dly soul is derived from G-d's essence
[see Tanya I, ch. 2]; this is what is meant by "the
soul which You have given."
Just as the animal soul is clothed within the body (its intellect
in the brain, its emotions in the heart, and so on) and
through it, seeks to fulfill its desires, so too the G-dly
soul finds expression by being clothed within the animal soul. The speaker here
is the animal soul, making a statement about the G-dly
soul within it. "Within me" alludes
that while this condition is a benefit for the animating soul, it nevertheless
constitutes a state of exile for the divine soul.
The descent of the divine soul through the Four Worlds [stages
or spiritual dimensions in the process of Creation] is now described:
It originates in the world of Emanation,
You have created it... it descends
through the world of Creation,
You have formed it... the
world of Formation,
You have breathed it... the world of Action,
into this physical world.
You preserve it within me... Even though
the soul longs to leave the confines of the body and return to its previous level,
like a flame that naturally ascends, as it is taught [Avot
4 (end)], "Against your will, you live." Furthermore, you guard it from
doing evil within me, as it is written, "If G-d did not aid the soul in its
task, it would be unable to overcome the evil inclination" [Kiddushin 30b].
And in the future you will take it from me... The
primary purpose of the soul's descent into the body is to gain the merit to eventually
cling to G-d on an even higher level than it did previously. The soul attains
this merit by influencing the rest of the entity, the animal soul of the body,
to conduct itself properly.
it within me in Time to Come.... G-d
will restore the soul as well as the body at the time of the Enlivening of the
So long as the soul is within me… When
a person awakens in the morning his soul is refreshed and, more than at any other
time, is free from evil thoughts and impulses. He feels
pure. What better time is there for the animal soul to thank the Creator for His
gift of potential growth.
I offer thanks to You, my G-d and G-d
of my fathers, Master of all works…. Ultimately even the animal
soul realized that its existence, too, is dependent on G-d. ("G-d" refers
to the divine name associated with creation.)
L-rd of all souls… It is to You
we will have to answer. ("L-rd" refers to the divine name associated
Blessed are You, G-d, who returns souls to dead bodies. Sleep
approximates a 60th part of death [Berachot
57b]. The animal soul simulaneously affirms the new
opportunity for the day and expresses faith in the future Enlivening of the Dead
Rabbi Shaul Leiter is the executive
director of Ascent-of-Safed.
This series is translated and adapted from Meah Shearim
and other sources