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The Human Mind in the Jewish Kabbalah

The mind is clearly more than the aggregate of human brain and nerve activity, though damage to these areas can seemingly affect its ability to communicate quite seriously. However, it has been established that people who are physically paralysed or otherwise disabled and unable to communicate because of such damage, are likely as not as lucid and intelligent - sometimes more so - as anyone else. We have all seen television programs which demonstrate this, where someone with an apparently crippling complaint has been able to demonstrate that there is nothing wrong with their minds whatever, once we have been able to provide them with mechanical or electronic aids which compensate for their disability. Mind, then, is clearly not dependent upon totally efficient physical mechanisms in order both to function and to exist. Mind is a function of Nephesh, or soul; and because most of our waking lives - and probably a large part of that one third of our lives we spend sleeping - are spent engaged in mental activity, the living human being is, in fact, not a physical creature at all, at least, not as ordinarily understood.

Anyone can easily demonstrate in the kabbalah this fact for themselves. When we are on our way to the local shopping mall, passing trees and other familiar landmarks, our attention, our thoughts, our imaginings - these are ahead of us, already at the store, buying various items, debating which ones to get, picturing ourselves actually taking items from the shelves, calculating the cost, etc. The existence of the local tree occupies only a minimal part of our attention, and then only in passing. What we perceive as mental activity, be it thinking in words or imaging (imagining) in pictures, is an activity operating within the soul, the Nephesh, and it is this activity which "animates" the body. When we are very small babies we have no control to speak of over our bodies. As we learn, by responding to the various stimuli we receive from our parents, guardians, and surroundings, we are receiving information directly into Nephesh, and are able to form images and sounds to imitate.

Thus we become able to walk and talk, and increasingly, to think, to reason and calculate. For example, by watching the way in which other people walk, the child takes the image of this into its mind; the immediate result of this is translated directly to the body, which attempts to duplicate what the image has informed it. Gradually the body learns, and we begin to take our first wobbly steps in the material world.

The same process is repeated for all other human activity, increasing in complexity and subtlety for all of the necessary activities of everyday life as we grow older. The innate human curiosity which, in many ways, actually identities us as human beings rather than some other species, does, from quite an early age, begin to use its imaging facility for speculation, and becomes able to do what we ordinarily call imagination, whereby we are actually able to postulate images in the mind/soul/nephesh of objects and scenarios which do not, and possibly cannot exist. Imagine a pigeon with a cow's head - anyone can do this. Imagine winning the lottery, or inheriting a fortune - easy, fun - but unlikely.

Discovering the spirituality of the jewish kabbalah can help us to face the problems of the daily life. If you want to know more about the jewish mysticism you can visit

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