Donning Neshamah Purity

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The Torah says that the Levites:

“Shall wash their garments and make themselves pure” (Numbers 8:7).

What’s this washing of garments about?

The Nefesh / life-energy dresses itself in garments of thought, speech and action.

Washing the garment of thought happens when I can count to ten before responding to someone who’s made me angry. When I equilibrate, I give myself a chance to use better judgment. If I respond with a knee-jerk reaction then I am likely to do something which will go against what I’m trying to accomplish. I will be more effective if I can put something out which the other will be able to receive and process. And deeper: Therapy for remnants of abuse; healing of pathological cognitions.

Washing the garment of speech means choosing my words with care and speaking in a way that people will more likely listen, a way that will elicit reflection. In order to do this I have to take my words seriously, choose the right ones and deliver them with an affect that is safe and inviting for the listener.

Washing the garment of action means “walking the walk”, doing what is right, being fair, honest, with integrity, compassion, caring, generous, kind and from a heart of wisdom.

If you’re going to be like the Levites in the temple, you will need to wash the “garments” of nefesh. Already within the nefesh is a level of purity called the neshama. When the neshama was given it was already pure. So you are automatically given a head-start because the neshama, crème de la crème of the nefesh, is right from the get-go already pure. It’s somehow reassuring to know that the neshama was pure when it was given and that purity is already in you and it’s also a part of your nefesh; there is a purity in there.

Freely translated by Gabbai Seth Fishman

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