The soul and body of a human being are united in the following manner: After a man and woman have made love and the woman has conceived, the Angel of the Night, Lilah, carries the sperm before God. God then decides what shall be the distinguishing characteristics of that child – whether the child shall be male or female, strong or weak, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, long or short, fat or thin. Piety and wickedness, however, are left to the determination of the individual.
Then God signals the angel who has been given the charge to watch over that particular soul. God says, “Bring Me the soul of this child whose form is hidden in
In the morning, the angel carries the soul to
In the evening, the angel takes the soul to hell and there points out the sinners whom the Angel of Destruction is taunting with fire. During the visit, the soul hears the sinners crying out in the black night, “Woe! Woe!” But no mercy is shown to them. The Angel then asks the same question that was asked before: “Do you know who these people are? They are now consumed with fire but there were created just like you. When they were sent out into the world, they forgot their origins they did not observe God’s Torah and mitzvot. Therefore they have to come to the disgrace they now suffer. Know that your destiny is also to depart from this world. Be just, therefore, and not wicked, so that you may gain entrance to a future world.”
Between morning and evening the angel carries the soul around and shows her where she will lie and where she will die, and the place that she will be buried. The angel takes her on a tour of the entire world. In the evening, the angel places the soul in the womb of the mother, and there she remains for nine months. During this time, the angel assigned to the soul teaches Torah to the babe. When the time arrives for her to emerge from the womb into the world, the soul is reluctant to leave. She has enjoyed the warmth of the womb and the light of Torah. So the angel touches the babe above the lip and sends it forth in to the world. Immediately the child forgets all it had seen and comes into the world crying, yearning for the Torah it now does not realize it has lost.Based on Tanchuma, Pekudei from Sacred Moments: Tales from the Jewish Life Cycle selected and edited by Isaacs and Olitzky (1995).