Rabbi Yitzchak commented on the verse: Thus said the Merciful Lord, the Creator of the heavens and He who stretches them out. He who spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it, who gives breath [Neshama] to the people on it, and spirit [Ruach] to those who walk upon it. (Isaiah 42:5, opening verse of Haftora)

Come and see. When the Holy One Blessed be He created the first man, He gathered soil from the four corners of the world.

These correspond to the four sefirot of chesed, gevura, tiferet and malchut, which are the four fundamental spiritual elements, the source of the four physical elements. The Ruach is that part of the person that rules over the animal instincts of the Nefesh

He then fashioned him at the place where the Holy Temple was to stand physically in this world [the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]. He then drew down into him the breath of life [Neshama] from its source in the spiritual Holy Temple above it. This Neshama was composed of three levels, which is the reason why there are three names for the components of the Neshama, reflecting the secret of their spiritual source. The names of these three levels [in ascending order] are Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama. The Nefesh is the lowest grade, as we have explained elsewhere. The Ruach is that part of the person that rules over the animal instincts of the Nefesh. It is a higher level of consciousness than the Nefesh and sustains the animal soul with everything that it needs to exist. The Neshama is at the highest level of spiritual development, and it rules over and sustains the other two levels. These three spiritual levels are contained in all people who become a fit vessel for them through purifying themselves in the service of their Creator. Once he is complete in consciousness …then a person is called a beloved one of the Holy One…

When he is born, a person is accredited with a Nefesh. This Nefesh has a holy function because it gives a person the strength to purify himself and raise up his condition from the physical to a more spiritual level. When a person has purified this animal level within him he is adorned with the next level - the Ruach. This is a more holy level that prevails over the Nefesh, and adorns a person who has made himself worthy of it.

Once a person has elevated himself through the Nefesh and Ruach and has entered into the service of his Master as is fitting and proper, he then is suffused with the Neshama that is a higher, holy level, that masters the other levels. Once he is adorned with this holy spiritual level [which is the level of bina], and once he is complete in consciousness of all of the ten sefirot which make up his spirit, then a person is called a beloved one of the Holy One Blessed be He. This is the meaning of the verse "That I may bestow true existence on those who love Me." (Proverbs 8:21) Who are "those that love Me"? They are those who have in them the holy Neshama.

Zohar, Page 205b, 206a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.