Grateful for the Soul-Post Yom Kippur
On Yom Kippur, I spoke about the soul. After all, the Day of Atonement is the most spiritual of all Jewish days.The concept of soul is most difficult to wrap one’s mind around. Soul suggests the abstract, the intangible, something none of our five senses can tap into. Yet, our intuitive imaginations feel that the soul is real, a vital and essential part of who we are.
Perhaps one of the best definitions of soul was given by Mark Nepo, poet, writer, teacher. “Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarassment, free of fear and worry, an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God.....to know this spot of inwardness is to know who we are by........feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it.”
In my mind this spot refers to the image of God-צלם אלהים-the divine piece of our beings.
In Hebrew,the soul is translated as נשמה-”neshamah” derived from the root-נשם-”nashom”-to breathe. I was toying with the word as I love to do with key words of the Hebrew language and rearranging the letters of the root word I arrived at a word that can be pronounced-מנש-”mensh.” Clearly, I am am being fanciful with the grammar; there is no Hebrew word pronounced this way. But, in Yiddish, “mensh” is a highly important word-it means -a good, decent, caring, sensitive, generous and kind human being,” all the ingredients that go into the making of an ideal moral and spiritual human being.
Thus one can conclude the the origin of one’s goodness and kindness resides in the soul-the “neshamah” the “spot of grace” touched by God,the very image of God.
All humans possess this spark( some believe that all living things-animals included,have this divine something in their make-up as living creatures created by God).
It is this core that is the objective of all our concerns, prayers, meditations, thoughts and considerations experienced during the full 24 hours of fasting and self-reflection.
I trust that on this Yom Kippur, we were all blessed with making a reacquaintance with our souls and that the new year will afford us the opportunity to cultivate and polish that precious part of who we are.