Bookstore Glossary Library Links News Publications Timeline Virtual Israel Experience
Anti-Semitism Biography History Holocaust Israel Israel Education Myths & Facts Politics Religion Travel US & Israel Vital Stats Women
donate subscribe Contact About Home

Neshamah Yeterah

NESHAMAH YETERAH (Heb. נְשָׁמָה יְתֵרָה, "additional soul"), a popular belief that every Jew is given an additional soul from the entrance of each Sabbath until its termination. This belief originated with the story in the Talmud (Beẓah 16a): "Resh Lakish said, 'On the eve of the Sabbath, God gives man an additional (or enlarged) soul, and at the close of the Sabbath He withdraws it from him, for it says; "He ceased from work and rested," i.e., va-yinnafash (Ex. 31:17): once it (the Sabbath) ceased, the additional soul is lost.'" (וַיִנָּפַשׁ – play on the word which could be read – וַי(לְ)נֶפֶשׁ vai (lenefesh "woe to the soul"). The notion of neshamah yeterah was richly expanded in kabbalistic literature, especially in the Zohar. One explanation for the use of spices at the *Havdalah service is that with the departure of the neshamah yeterah at the end of the Sabbath, it is necessary to strengthen the faint remaining soul (Tur, OḤ 297:1).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.