The Extra Soul

Neshamah Yetayrah

Why do we smell sweet spices as part of the Havdalah ceremony? 

The Abudraham ("Sefer Abudraham," "The Order of the Prayer After Shabbat and Their Explanation") explains that "the reason we smell spices after Shabbat ends is to comfort the person because the extra soul ("Neshamah Yetayrah") leaves after Shabbat." The source for this idea is the Talmud, Tractate Baytzah (p. 16a): 
Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: The Holy One, blessed be He, gives the Jew an extra soul ("Neshamah Yetayrah") on Shabbat eve. After Shabbat ends, it is taken away from the person, as it says, "He ceased working and rested - Shavat Va'Yinafash" (Exodus 31:17), since it ceased, oh my, the soul is lost.
Two concepts are contained in Rabbi Shimon's statement. The first is the idea that God gives each Jew an extra soul ("Neshamah Yetayrah"), so to speak, as Shabbat begins. The second concept is that the person reacts to the extra soul's departure as Shabbat ends. 

This leads us to ask two questions: Just what is an "extra soul"? And what does this have to do with the Havdalah ceremony? 

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish derives his second concept from a pun on the last words of Exodus 31:17. Here is the text of Exodus 31:16-17: 

(16) The people of Israel will observe the Shabbat, making the Shabbat throughout all their generations into an eternal covenant. (17) It will be an eternal sign between Me and the people of Israel, that, in six days, God made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day, He ceased working and rested.
If translated literally, the last phrase, "He ceased working and rested," would read, "He (or it) ceased and He rested." In his playing with the words of this phrase, Rabbi Shimon first adopts the literal translation and decides that the antecedent for the pronoun, he, is the extra soul. He then takes the last word and pulls it apart creating two new words meaning, "Oh my! soul!" Thus, his word game yields a Jews reaction to the departure of the extra soul when Shabbat ends: "Shabbat ceased. Oh my, the extra soul is lost!" 

The mild spiritual trauma caused when we sense the extra soul's departure requires that we smell some sweet spices to revive us. So, as part of the Havdalah ceremony we recite the blessing and smell the spices. 
 

source The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
 

What is the Extra Soul ("Neshamah Yetayrah")?

Rashi comments on Tractate Baytzah (p. 16a): 
"An extra soul ("Neshamah Yetayrah")." An expanded "heart" for rest and joy, open to comfort, to eat and drink without the soul bothering him.
According to Rashi, the extra soul on Shabbat is the gift of peace of mind. It is the ability to put all of our weekday troubles and concerns behind us and to relax and enjoy Shabbat.

A similar idea is expressed by Rabbaynu Bachai, in his commentary on Genesis 2:3. He says that during the week, our souls are like uncomfortable guests in our bodies, but, on Shabbat, God blesses us that our souls finally feel at home in our bodies. The very spiritual nature of Shabbat is complemented by God's blessing us with an extra soul, with an extra dose of spirituality, with a sense of being spiritually at ease in a physical world. 

Rabbi Shalom No'ach Berzovsky, the current Slonim Rebbe, in Jerusalem, offers us a different explanation. 
 

source The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

 

The Extra Soul- A Different Opinion

Rabbi Shalom No'ach Berzovsky, the Slonim Rebbe, begins his essay of the extra soul on Shabbat by quoting the Talmud, Tractate Baytzah 16a. He then launches into explanation: 
It is possible to explain the essence of the extra soul that the Holy One, blessed be He, gives [us] on Shabbat. It is the characteristic of great desire and thirst for God. This is the meaning of "soul," the root of this great desire and thirst, as it is written, "my soul thirsts for You" (Psalms 63:2), "My soul longs, also yearns for God's courts" (Psalms 84:3), "My soul is attached to You" (Psalms 63:9). Indeed, a person has a divine soul from above, which greatly desires and thirsts constantly for God. In parallel, a person [also] has an animal soul which desires evil things, as is written concerning Shechem, "My son, Shechem, his soul desires your daughter" (Genesis 34:8), "His soul was attached to Dina, daughter of Ya'akov" (Genesis 34:3). 
This is the meaning of the extra soul that God gives the person on Shabbat eve: As Shabbat begins the Jew's soul awakens with a great desire for God. "Then delight in God" (Isaiah 58:14), for the holy Shabbat cancels the power of the animalistic soul, leaving only the divine soul. 
The sensitive person feels this great thirst for God as the Shabbat candles are lit, as one lifts one's voice in singing "Lecha Dodi" along with the rest of the congregation. And the thirst for God is quenched as we pray together on Shabbat, as we recite Kiddush and taste the sweet Challah, as we devote some time on Shabbat to Torah study. All this fades as Shabbat ends. The spirit deflates and everyday life intrudes once again into our consciousness. The sweet smell of the Havdalah spices revives us, giving us the strength to work our way through another week, in anticipation of the Shabbat to come. 
 

source  The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

 

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