Today, let’s look at the word “neshama” (נְשָׁמָה). R’ Aryeh Kaplan has an article on Aish.com discussing “the three parts of the soul,” identifying them as the nefesh, the neshama, and the ruach.
R’ Kaplan explains:
God’s exhaling a soul can be compared to a glassblower forming a vessel. The breath (neshama) first leaves his lips, travels as a wind (ruach) and finally comes to rest (nefesh) in the vessel. Of these three levels of the soul, neshama is therefore the highest and closes to God, while nefesh is that aspect of the soul residing in the body. Ruach stands between the two, binding man to his spiritual Source. It is for this reason that Divine Inspiration is called Ruach HaKodesh in Hebrew. The neshama is affected only by thought, the ruach by speech, and the nefesh by action.
NASB translates neshama variously as blast (2), breath (15), breathes (1), life (1), persons alive (1), spirit (2), and who breathed (3).
See also the article on “Mi Yodeya”: http://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8921/nefesh-neshama-and-ruach-as-words-for-soul