Q: Dr. Guterson, you talk quite a bit about the soul. Can you help me understand what the soul is?
A: Our understanding of the soul starts with the knowledge that human beings (unlike everything else) were created in G-d’s image, that G-d breathed into us His Essence.
Therefore, we all have an actual piece of Divinity within us.
And that explains our yearning for transcendence, a longing to connect.
In past weeks we discussed the structure of the soul which consists of ten levels: three intellectual and seven emotional. Recall that intellect drives emotion, which is extremely important to know and live by.
This is our essential makeup, our spiritual DNA.
To put this soul into action, so that it affects ourselves and the world, Chassidic philosophy talks about the ‘garments’ of the soul. These ‘garments’ are our thoughts, speech, and actions. They are called garments because, like the clothes that we wear, they can be changed.
And change they must(!) if one desires to grow spiritually. As life goes on, as we hopefully get more in touch with the purity of our soul, we have the opportunity to refine these ‘garments’, refine our thought, speech, and action.
Many people say, sadly, that “I am who I am and I will never change.” High school yearbooks are filled with friends writing things like: “you are so cool; don’t ever change!” But change we must and change we do - and that is truly being “cool”. The quandary lies in HOW we change. And that’s where the garments of the soul come in.
To be continued….