Conversation with an Orthodox Shaliach, Persons and Souls

I had lunch today with an old friend/adversary. Let’s call him Rich. He is a businessman and a family man, but in his spare time (so-called) he runs an organization calling Jews back to Torah, and Jews away from faith in Yeshua. That makes him a shaliach (shuh-LEE-akh), a missionary of sorts to his own people.

Once, he and I clashed like fire and dynamite (sodium and water for those who had fun in chemistry lab). Those were the days when I was a zealous street evangelist, calling for Jews to come to Christ. Now I still call for Jewish people to know Christ, but with a better understanding of Jewish identity and less offensive means of dialogue.

Anyway, there was one topic among many that we talked about, persons and souls. Before I get to that, let me say that we talked about many things. We did a little personal catching up, a little friendlier than days of old. We talked about our differences.

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4 Responses to Conversation with an Orthodox Shaliach, Persons and Souls

  1. Personally, I find the whole idea offensive. 6,000,000 Jews died in the Holocaust. They each had 1/10 OR LESS of a soul? As someone who had family members who likely died in the Holocaust, that idea is so offensive to me, I cannot quantify it.

    But here’s a question for these people: what about Messianic Jews? We were born Jewish. We obviously had one of these “partial souls.” When we accepted Yeshua as Messiah, they claim we were no longer Jewish. So, what happened? Did we lose our “partial soul”? And what happened after that? Do we no longer have a soul? Or did we get a Gentile soul… and, if that’s the case, did we get a whole soul, or is there also a limited number of Gentile souls?

  2. Carl says:

    As far as I know, the idea that a Jew has only a partial soul is not taught anywhere in Jewish tradition.

    The teaching about the 600,000 souls is actually simpler than the rabbi was able to explain. It is a mystical notion based on the 600,000 Jewish souls that stood at Sinai to receive the Torah. They comprise the “Body” of the unified Jewish People. Today, each each individual Jew has a complete soul, a soul that SHARES in one of the souls of the Jews at Sinai, from which we descend.

    (Just for the record, I don’t subscribe to this notion.)

  3. Rahel says:

    Shalom Derek and all:

    As a Jew, and atriditional one at that, the only place I’ve ever heard of a belief like this is in Kabbalah, and that can be a highly figurative area of Jewish thought. The belief in reincarnation, along with the idea that there are only 600,000 Jewish souls, isn’t a mainstream one. I would submit though that it gets tossed around and people pick it up without considering its implications. It’s a very offensive belief in my estimation, without Scriptural or sound basis within the rest of the mesorah, and so I could never hold by it.

  4. Rahel:

    Thanks for weighing in. I hope I didn’t communicate any disaparagement of Orthodox life. I certainly don’t feel anything but respect for my Orthodox friends.

    Sometimes I am not aware of how widespread a view might be. The two Orthodox rabbis I have spoken to about this take the 600,000 soul idea as a universal belief for those who accept the tradition. I specically asked if this was merely a kabbalistic notion. They said that the tradition firmly teaches it. No one could cite a reference for me. I still want to know where this is found in the tradition.


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