The explanation [of the questions raised above] is to be found in the light of what Rabbi Chayim Vital wrote in Sha’ar ha-Kedushah (and in Etz Chayim, Portal 50, ch. 2) that in every Jew, whether righteous or wicked, are two souls, as it is written, “The neshamot (souls) which I have made,” [alluding to] two souls.
This is probably going to become my mantra for this pieces, however, let me say that it is much more complicated than that. I am not going to translate the Eitz Haim here(meaning for this piece, not all of it anyway). But what I have done is translate the relevant piece from Shaarei Kedusha, Part 3 Gate 2:
There is one soul which originates in the kelipah andsitra achra, and which is clothed in the blood of a human being, giving life to the body, as is written, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” From it stem all the evil characteristics deriving from the four evil elements which are contained in it. These are: anger and pride, which emanate from the element of Fire, the nature of which is to rise upwards; the appetite for pleasures— from the element of Water, for water makes to grow all kinds of enjoyment; frivolity and scoffing, boasting and idle talk from the element of Air; and sloth and melancholy— from the element of Earth.
If you have done the reading you already understand this, if not, I will fill you in a bit. What he is breaking down as two souls here are really five. However he is calling one the Sitra Achra and Klipa. First in Kabbalah, every world is a Klipah to the one above it(which will really do your head in when we get to the end of the chapter). Second let’s take the example of an orange. An orange has a peel. An orange peel is made up of three distinct layers(Kilpot) however, since our concern is for the fruit, we only speak in terms of fruit(the inner part of the orange) and klipah(the peel). Since the Baal HaTanya’s primary objective is not to give a full fleshing out of the human soul, but rather only to talk about that part in each person, in fact in each Jew, that relates most closely with HaShem, he is simplifying. However the should of cow, in a cow is equally holy.
From this soul stem also the good characteristics which are to be found in the innate nature of all Israel, such as mercy and benevolence. For in the case of Israel, this soul of the kelipah is derived from kelipat nogah, which also contains good, as it originates in the esoteric “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
Ah now we get to the real issue, the soul that is derived from the Kali Nogah. The Arizal explains that it is forever tinged by evil. Once again this is that Yetzer HaRa that we can never fully expunge from ourselves. Primarily this is on account of the sin of man that the soul is so mixed. Also this leads us to the primary avodah of a Jew which is to separate the good from the evil. The Arizal writes in two places(Shaar HaPasukim and Shaar Mamarei Rashbi) that this is the secret of the 39 melakhot. That since Adam HaRishon sinned on the sixth day, before Shabbat, this work of separating good from evil is not in our hands on Shabbat, as it only affected(in one sense) the profane days of the week. However it doesn’t so much touch Shabbat.
Here we get the problem with Jew. As good a a Jew will ever be, like it says on Sukka 52a, “The greater the Tzadik the greater the Yetzer Hara,” he will have equal evil to contend with. There is no escaping it. Unlike the nations who as we will learn are derived from the harder klipot, this kilpa is fully mixed, there is not peel or shell to strip away and be left with only holiness. Rather it is forever mixed, and thus a Jew always has room to grow in yirat shmayim(fear of heaven) and lshem shamayim(service only for the sake of heaven.
The souls of the nations of the world, however, emanate from the other, uncleankelipot which contain no good whatever, as is written in Etz Chayim,Portal 49, ch. 3, that all the good that the nations do, is done from selfish motives. So the Gemara comments on the verse, “The kindness of the nations is sin,”— that all the charity and kindness done by the nations of the world is only for their own self-glorification, and so on.
I’m going to start this final bit of discussion with the words of Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The author is not coming, with these few brief sentences, to define the nature of the non-Jew. Whatever he says here about non-Jews is just the background for the issue with which he is dealing.
In other words it would be a grave error to try to extrapolate from this any sort of doctrine about a non-Jew’s relationship with HaShem. One of the most important commentaries on the Eitz Haim, the Beit Lehem Yehuda, has several long pieces spread out over a number of Shaarim in which he builds at last a logic system of understanding the nature of non-Jews from the various statements that the Arizal makes. Let me start with a direct quote from the piece at hand, “There is no created thing in the world that does not contain sparks of holiness which enliven it.” He then points us to something he said earlier in the chapter, which is another long piece. There he tells us about the righteous amongst the nations. In short a non-Jew has an incredibly hard time breaking through the shell of the klipa from which his soul is derived, but once he does he has access to holiness much easier(hence the reason that a Noahide only has to keep 7 laws).
Furthermore the question from which klipot the non-Jew’s soul is derived. For instance a Jew may have a soul that is derived from the Kali Noga of Asiyah(the lowest of the worlds) whereas a non-Jew may have a soul derived from the Klipa of fire of Atzilut. Thus if the non-Jew were to overcome his sitra achra and break through to being a righteous gentile, his connection with Hashem would be qualitatively superior(this is all spelled out in Shaar HaGilgulim and the second Drush of Shaar Ruah HaKodesh).