I love animals and I am very sympathetic towards them. I believe that one of the main problems of our planet is the anthropocentric approach that many religions have, where man is considered the most important being. According to many beliefs, animals do not have a soul. What is the kabbalistic approach to all this? ~VS
Kabbalah very much emphasizes the fact that animals do have a soul, and these souls have the same origin as human souls: the Creator. The difference between human and animal souls, according to Kabbalah, is the aspect of free will. Animals operate upon instinct; they can love, nurture, fear, and anger – just as humans – but when given the choice to be selfish or to be sharing, they will not weigh their options or rationalize the outcome of either. They cannot fathom the spiritual consequences of their actions. They will simply do as their instinct dictates.
According to kabbalistic reincarnation, sometimes human souls require an incarnation (or two or three) as animals to facilitate their soul’s correction process. And animals can be tremendous messengers of the Light as well. Karen Berg has a whole chapter in To Be Continued… called "Animals, Trees and Stones" that details what animals’ souls are about and human incarnations among them.
With that said, Kabbalah teaches that the world depends on humans (not animals) for transformation, and that’s the purpose for which our world was created. That DOES NOT give humans license to massacre, torture or test on animals for human benefit. The kabbalists throughout history have stressed that kindness to all creatures is part of our purpose in the world. The Ari, a great sage from the 15th century, would not so much as step on an ant. So clearly, any violence or abuse toward animals is against kabbalistic principles.
With that in mind, we must also be cautious to not harm or abuse any humans in our quest to protect animals! Kabbalah teaches that there is no excuse for lack of human dignity or intolerance toward others. Destroying someone else’s property, defacing a business or harming another person in the name of the animals doesn’t solve the problem. No matter what our passions or beliefs in life, one wrong doesn’t justify another. No matter what the problem, the most powerful way to inspire change is by example.