Nefesh HaBehaimis & Nefesh Elokis [#2034]

Question:

1) The Rav has said in the shiurim that for most people, the task of knowing the soul must be worked upon “from the bottom up”, that one should first learn, recognize, work with, and repair the nefesh habehaimis (animal soul) and afterwards reveal the neshamah. However, the Rav said in “Getting To Know Your Feelings” that a large part of fixing the soul is to fix the nefesh habehaimis, but the main part of the remedy must come from the light of the nefesh Elokis (the G-dly soul), which implies that a person mainly needs to work with the nefesh Elokis. That also implies that the beginning of the remedy for the soul is to work with the nefesh Elokis. So where do we begin working with? Do we mostly need to work with the nefesh habehaimis and less with the nefesh Elokis, or vice versa?
2) As for knowing about our nefesh habehaimis (animal soul), which the Rav has explained as a part of our task in knowing and repairing our soul, is this referring to the series of the Four Elements, meaning that we need to recognize well the four elements in our animal soul? Is a person also able to know about the “animal soul” from learning “Getting To Know Your Soul” (Da Es Nafshecha)? What is the way by which a person can know his animal soul (nefesh habehaimis)?
3) It is clear that it is a difficult task even to fix our “animal soul” and that it takes years of amassing much knowledge about it, with a vast amount of inner work, and a major will to change. For most people, who are still found at the level of the “animal soul”, is it also possible for them to reach the higher levels of the soul (the nefesh Elokis, Ruach, Neshamah, Chayah and Yechidah)? In relation to this question, is the series of “Inner Silence” (Da Es Hisbodedutecha), “Torah Way To Enlightenment” (Da Es Nishmatecha), “Reaching Your Essence” (Da Es Havayasecha), and “Loving Your Fellow Jew” (Da Es Reiacha), etc. about “shining” the higher levels of the soul upon a person? Or are these shiurim and sefarim meant to guide a person to actually reach these higher levels of the soul, even within the current level of one’s animal soul?
Much thanks to the Rav.

Answer:

1 It is recommended to recognize one’s strongest positive power, or to at least recognize one’s most revealed positive power, of one’s Nefesh Elokis (G-dly soul), which is the source of all G-dly blessing, which illuminates the soul. Through increased connection to one’s strongest positive power, one receives a greater intensity of his Nefesh Elokis. (Understandably, this is besides for learning Torah and keeping the mitzvos). The amount of how much one needs to make use of this is not the same with each person, but the general definition is that a person needs to increase the strength of his Nefesh Elokis. Therefore each person needs to examine how much he needs to make use of his most positive power, both in his nefesh Elokis and nefesh habehaimis.

2Da Es Nafshecha” (Getting To Know Your Soul) is general knowledge about the soul which can be understood by all people. However, the series of the “Four Elements” is a guide of how one can reach his personal soul. Through “Getting To Know Your Soul” one can work with the general roots of the soul, and through the “Four Elements” series one can recognize his private soul. Then one can know the order of what he needs to work on, in his personal avodah.

3 It has been explained above that a person needs to strengthen his strongest or most revealed positive ability (of his Nefesh Elokis), and therefore, one should also correspondingly work on his spiritual growth. However, a person needs to become clear about his “animal soul” (nefesh habehaimis), because if not, one’s connection to the spiritual will be unclear and it will be a mixture of truth with fantasy. A person needs to set aside special time for each kind of self-work. Each area of self-work requires its own period of time where one works on it, and one should not mix one kind of self-work with another. Generally a person should not work on two areas at once, because the secret of success is to stay focused.