The Eternal Nature of Our Souls

Yael Eckstein  |  August 9, 2022

Yael praying at the Western Wall with a Bible in hand.

But all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today. — Deuteronomy 4:4

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Va’etchanan, which means “I pleaded,” from Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11.

What does it mean to be alive? I meant to really be alive. I heard someone say recently, “You start dying from the day you are born.” Which technically is true. But I thought to myself, “How depressing! That’s no way to live.”

Think about it… for most of our lives, our bodies are in a slow and steady decline. People — like animals, plants, and everything else that’s alive — grow to our fullest size and strength in the first quarter or third of our lifespan. After reaching this peak, the rest of life is a slow and gradual decline in beauty and strength, eventually leading to death. So from a physical standpoint, I guess this person was right. Most of our lives are spent gradually dying.

But this misses the spiritual side of life — the eternal nature of our souls. Our souls don’t follow the rules of nature. Does my soul reach the height of its powers in my twenties? Do my wisdom and spiritual strength peak when my physical strength does? Of course not. And that’s because our souls are not part of the physical world.

The Eternal Nature of Our Souls

We see this idea hinted at in this week’s Torah portion, when Moses wrote, “But all of you who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today.”

Moses had just reminded the children of Israel about the fate of those who participated in the sin of Baal Peor (Numbers 25:1-3). This sin of sexual depravity in the practice of pagan worship led to the deaths of 24,000 participants. On a basic level, Moses was just reminding Israel that the sinners died, and those who did not sin remained alive. But there is a deeper lesson here.

The sinners of Baal Peor succumbed to their basest animalistic desires. They chose their bodily nature over the life of the spirit. They chose their physical nature — their dying nature — over the eternal life of the soul.

Those who resisted this enticement to sin and followed the eternal nature of their souls are the ones who lived. They chose the path of life, not only in this world, but also the eternal life of the next world. As Moses said, those “who held fast to the LORD your God are still alive today.”

Your Turn:

Thank God today for the everlasting life of your soul.