Re: Animals

Elliott Brandwein (
Fri, 24 Jan 1997 10:09:31 +0000

Recently written in V3 #17 is the following:
Sonia Bloomfield Ramagem wrote:
>>Recently my beloved male dog, Yom, died after drowning in the
>>swimming pool while we were sleeping.... But, most of all, about his
>>"soul" (I don't know what name to give). How does the Kabbalah and
>>the sages explain their afterlife? How are animals souls dealt with
>>in Judaism?

Yehoshua Kahan responds:
>While I know nothing of the Kabbalah, I do know that in Tractate
>Brochos (blessings), we are taught that animals do have souls, and the
>proof is that they have emotions. ...

The first thing that must be understood about this concept is the idea of a
"soul". According to all Kabbalistic sources across the board (Zohar,
Kitvei Arizal, Tanya, etc.), there is more than one "soul". There is the
nefesh, the vivifying "life-soul", which every living creature has in order
to live. On a higher level, there is the neshama, which is a soul given
only to humans. There are other levels which I will not discuss here. Olam
HaBah (the World to Come) is the "place" where all neshamas go in order to
return to their Creator. That is the purpose of our life: to perfect our
neshamas for a pure return to Hashem. This is done through the gift that
comes with the neshama: Bechira. This same gift of Bechira is not given to
any other creature on Earth besides humans, hence, animals don't have any
obligation to perfect themselves. Since the whole purpose of returning to
Hashem relates only to humans, humans are the only creature that have an
afterlife as such. I'm sorry, Sonia, but as far as I know, only a human has
the neshama that enters Olam Ha-Bah. I remember the same disappointment I
felt as a child after learning my cat was not in heaven. However, it is
important to remember that the purpose of being placed here is for us, and,
Baruch Ha-Shem, He has given us animals for our enjoyment in this world.

Elliott Brandwein, Yerushalayim