21 Iyar 5779 / Sunday, May 26, 2019 | Torah Reading: Bamidbar
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A Date with My Soul    

A Date with My Soul

Just imagine having a lunch date with your soul. You can finally meet first hand the spiritual side of yourself and ask it whatever you like...


I decided to invite my neshama (soul) out for brunch the other day. I have always wanted to meet it face to, eh, soul, I guess. I booked a table at the local dairy cafe, and we took our seats. After a bit of an awkward silence (I mean, what does one say to one's soul?) I ordered a latte. My neshama ordered nothing, obviously, since it's only nourishment comes from the brochas (blessings) that I make on my kosher food. I couldn't help but just stare at it, even though my mother told me a million times that staring is rude. Finally, I plucked up the courage to speak.
“Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, you know, meeting at a cafe where you really can't eat anything....I feel bad drinking this latte in front of you....”
My neshama waved my worries away. “Drink, drink—just make a brocha on it—then I'll feel full.”
I proceeded as my neshama instructed, and we lapsed into another round of momentary silence. I snuck an embarrassed peek at my soul, trying not to seem too obvious. Finally, I couldn't contain myself.
“At the risk of sounding, er, not frum and kind of mean, I must say that I always thought you would look like a combination of Casper the Friendly Ghost and the Hamburger helper—sorry--I know they are not too kosher, but anyway, that's what I thought you would, er, have looked like...never mind,” I trailed off, drowning in my own diatribe.
Again my neshama waved away my concerns, and tried to put me at ease. “Common misconception—it's hard to conceptualize one's soul. Everyone thinks we are this white blob in the middle of  their torso—what can I say?” It spread out it's arms helplessly. “Your neshama is only as white as you make it.”
I took a good look at my neshama, a shimmering, multi hued entity—it wasn't all white—it was brighter in some parts more than others, a combination of different shades of light. I pointed to a black smudge resembling a bruise. “What's that?” I asked.
My neshama looked down in order to get a better look. “That—oh, that's from yesterday when you were on the phone speaking lashon hara—it's still a bit sore.”
I bit my lip in consternation. “Sorry—I didn't mean to hurt you—it's just that this person really irked me the other day, you know what I mean? If I didn't tell my friend about it, I thought I would explode...”
“Hmph,” it snorted in reply. “That's what they all say.”
I looked down at my hands, my Latte forgotten. I was afraid too look too closely at my soul for fear of what I would see—but I couldn't help myself.
“What about that thing over there that looks like a purple indentation?” I asked.
My neshama once again looked down to where I was pointing. “That's from five days ago when you lied to the person who asked you for tzeddkah and you told him that you were giving him all the change you had.”
“But that was a little lie!” I sputtered in complete indignation. “I needed the other five shekels! I can't believe I am being taken to task for this,”I said in a huff, folding my arms and producing my best scowl.  How dare it accuse me! Some nerve! My neshama just shrugged its shoulders.
“Suit yourself,” it said.
I stewed in my angry silence, refusing to even look in my soul's direction, when I suddenly noticed a new stain forming out of the corner of my eye. Once again,  my curiosity bested even my anger, and I pointed at the newly minted spot.
“And what is that?” I said nastily, as it grew uglier by the moment. “Did I hurt a fly or something?” I asked, my voice dripping with undiluted sarcasm.
My neshama winced. It was obviously hurting. “That's—from--now--” It said, weakly. “That is a spot caused by your anger and—self—righteousness,” It finished haltingly.
My hand flew to my mouth. I felt a stab of remorse and regret, the kind one feels on Yom Kippur. “I'm so so sorry!” I wailed. “Here—let me help you wash that off,” I said as I tried to wipe the stain off with a damp linen napkin soaked in water from the table. My soul pushed my hand away as it regained its equilibrium. “No—please--only HaShem—and your teshuva—can wipe-me-clean.”
I stopped with my napkin in mid-air. Uh Oh. That didn't sound too easy. I put down the napkin, all contrite, and watched as my neshama slowly regained some of its normal color. I witnessed with my own eyes the pain that I am capable of inflicting on my own soul. And then I thought about the many many moments where I lost my temper, lacked emuna. I thought about my life before I did teshuva, and even all the instances thereafter where I fell short of my spiritual potential. After a mournful silence, I just had to ask the question.
“You were talking about teshuva,” I said. “How can I ever repent for all the Cuban sandwiches I ate at Bayside?! All the burgers from Burger King?! All that treif food I ate until I became frum?!” I wailed, putting my head in my hands. “Not to mention all the other transgressions I did!”
My neshama, ever the loyal and kind soul that it was, patted me on the arm. “There, there,” it soothed. “You see  all these shimmering bright spots all over me?” It jutted its chest out proudly, like a General displaying its medals. “This right here?That's when you torched your kitchen and almost burned down your entire building complex when you decided to keep kosher—and look over here,” it continued excitedly. “That's from the time you began to cover your hair. And see this here?” it continued, pointing to a shimmering silver patch. “This is from the time you took upon yourself to start saying your blessings over food out loud...”
“Really?” I squeaked through the tears that had been meandering their way down my face like two salty rivers. I sniffled and blew my nose. I gave my neshama a half smile. “You mean I am not all bad?”
My neshama turned serious. “Rare is the person that is 'all bad.' Each person has the potential for a nice, clean soul. Sometimes it's out of your hands, and only HaShem can clean me up through certain tests and tribulations. And sometimes it's totally up to you,” It shrugged. “Like your concern about eating food that is not kosher. There is more than one way to feed me non-kosher food, you know.”
I stopped, my smile fading. “No—I don't know—what are you saying—that the chicken I buy is not kosher enough?” I snapped my fingers in frustration. I felt a bit indignant, but quickly remembered to reign in my emotions, afraid of a repeat performance of my anger, and the resulting consequences.
My neshama shook its head. “There is more than one way to distance me from my Source, which of course is HaShem. If , for instance, you watch or listen to things that are steeped in the secular sub culture—such as Hollywood movies, trashy novels, gossip magazines, or any other form of pop-entertainment—it's like you're starving me! Cutting me off!”
I tried to keep my cool. “With all due respect, I did give up a lot of that stuff,” I said. “But I can't say that it's easy or that every once in a while I don't enjoy a good U2 song in the taxi on the way home, through no fault of my own, of course--”
“And how do you feel?” My soul challenged me, leaning forward on the table. “How do you feel when you watch that clip on YouTube? When you hear that song? Read that book?” It waited for me to answer as the silence stretched on.
I glared at my soul, afraid to lie. Finally, in a spate of frustration, I responded. “Disconnected,” I said. “Happy?”
My soul leaned back in the chair, a smile spread upon its face. “Yes, I am happy. Because maybe now you will realize a bit more what makes me—and the two of us— truly happy.”
I drummed my fingers on the table, trying not to get angry at this soul of mine. “It's not easy, you know—keeping you all nice and clean! I am not an angel! And I have this evil inclination following me everywhere---” I spurted, my hands gesticulating for effect. My soul put up its hand to silence me.
“You brought me here to  find out about how I feel about being your soul—I'm just telling you the truth, even if it's not what you want to hear. You want to improve conditions in this world and the next for the two of us, then I am only being honest. Just like you would read a handbook on farming if you  were interested in cultivating acres of land, so you need to read the handbook—the Torah—in order to learn how to best cultivate and feed me, your soul—that's all.”
I lapsed into a lengthy silence, contemplating what my soul was trying to tell me. It was hard—downright hard. But I thought of all the times I had vanquished my evil inclination in the past, to create beautiful, shimmering patchworks on my soul where some sullied spots used to be. I thought of all the work I had done over the years—hard spiritual work. I thought about how much more in sync I was with my soul,and how we actually made a pretty good team.
“You know, “I said after a contemplative silence, “you're really not so bad.”
“Gee, thanks,” said my soul. “I'm glad you finally got around to figuring it out.”
“You are a bit sarcastic, I must say.”
“Well, I am YOUR soul—whadda ya think I'm going to be?”
“Let's stop while we're ahead,”I replied, leaving the money on the table for my Latte, making sure I didn't shortchange  the waiter. I looked over at my soul.
“You know, it was nice to finally meet you—we should do this more often.”
“Yeah, just let me know a couple of weeks in advance so that I can clear my calendar....”
“You're being sarcastic again.”
“Am not.”
“Are too—can we just stop going down this road?” I asked.
My soul suddenly perked up again. “Did I tell you about the road that the soul takes? Did I tell you about all the exciting aspects of soul migrations?”
“Maybe next time,” I said, rolling my eyes—oops!  Better not go there....

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  3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  love this!!!
yehudit levy6/24/2012 10:37:55 PM
  Yes!!! Excellent!! (only subject)
Jewgirl3/5/2012 6:36:19 PM
Chaya3/4/2012 1:32:11 PM

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