What is a brief explanation of the basic foundations of the ‘Animal Soul’?
The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon) writes, as well as other commentaries, that every physical thing in the world is comprised of four elements: fire, wind, water and earth. The teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidus add that there are also four spiritual elements of which everything in the creation is comprised, including the soul of man.
In the first chapter of the book of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi) describes the characteristics of the four elements as they are in their un-rectified state in the natural, or animal, soul:
Fire – the attribute of anger and arrogance. As fire always strives upwards, so arrogance is the negative expression of being uplifted, and anger also stems from a feeling of arrogance, since a person who gets angry is essentially saying that things should go according to his own desire and if they didn’t, he gets angry. Fire is also hot and constantly reheating, as the attribute of anger heats up a person.
Wind – the attribute of folly and inappropriate clowning, false and empty grandeur. All these are things which have no stability, like a wind that blows and passes on.
Water – the desire for enjoyment and physical pleasures, which is connected to all the kinds of enjoyment in the world.
Earth – laziness and sadness. These are caused when a person feels like earth that everyone steps on, and prevents him from having energy and enthusiasm