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Souls, Do Alzheimers Patients Have?

Dear Cyber-Rav,

I was explaining to my son what a soul is. I told him that I think that a soul is everything that you are minus your physical body. A soul is you as a person, your temperament, your memories, you personality, your inner being. Am I right about my definition? He wanted to know if a person that has Alzheimers, and his/her memory is gone and his/her personality has changed from a sweet giving person to an arrogant nasty person, does that person's soul still live? He also questioned if an animal or an insect has a soul. I had a hard time answering these questions. He's a real thinker and I thought that I would ask you for answers to these questions.

Soulful Questions

The Cyber Rav Answers:

Dear Soulful,

Wow-difficult questions! Philosophers and theologians have pondered the essence of the soul for hundreds of years. I don't think anyone has ever come up with the definitive answer, but yours is as good as any: everything you are minus your physical self. I like it and I think that works just fine. I like to say that the soul is that gift of God to us, which is no less than a little bit of godliness itself. And so that, for me, is what the soul is. Upon our deaths, that godliness returns to God, and our bodies return to the dust from which it sprang.

I think that a person with Alzheimer's definitely has a soul, but it is a soul trapped in a dysfunctional body. Under those circumstances, it is death that can release the soul, and that is why we so often say, under those circumstances, that death is more of a blessing than a sadness.

I think that all living things, including animals, have a little piece of godliness tucked away in them, though I would hesitate to call it a soul. Suffice to say that to the extent that all of life has been created by God, all of God's creations are worthy of our respect and our appreciation.

The CyberRav

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