By Tori Bischoff, S. Petersburg, FL
The change is not in the body, but in the soul.
The human condition is a clash of wills, according to the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. Between the animal soul and the divine soul, or the evil inclination and the good inclination, the battle is constantly raging.
The animal soul is grounded, focused on physical pleasure and the worldly aspect of life, while the divine soul cleaves to godliness, striving to elevate the world indefinitely.
In Judaism, the difference between a child and an adult is the presence of the divine soul. From the time of birth, every Jewish child has an animal soul, but it isn’t until a girl turns twelve or a boy turns thirteen that the divine soul enters the body.
In the Tanya, the Alter Rebbe states that the nefesh ha’elokis, the divine soul, is “literally a part of G-d above.”
This means that upon the entrance of the divine soul into the body, a person has the power to sin willingly and the responsibility to Hashem and to himself not to commit an act of sin.
The realization that you are very literally a piece of Hashem, can have an incredible effect on your priorities and ego. Nothing is more important than elevating this mundane world we call home.
Along with this step into adulthood came the realization that the world isn’t such a scary place. Although we all have a mission to fulfill, everything happens in its own time, so there’s no reason to worry. What could be wrong when you’re a piece of G-d?
Tori Bischoff is a high school senior who has attended JEWISH UNCAMP for the last 2 years. Jewish UnCamp is an alternative summer camp for Jewish high school girls. Rabbi Manis Friedman is the lead instructor.