On the subject of identifying as a neshama . a quick story will bring out a kasha. My eight year old son and his nine year old cousin were having a discussion. My son mentioned that we are a neshama and his cousin argued that we have a neshama. I overheard and thought of a small kasha that has been nagging me . We say every morning "Elokai, neshama she'nasatah be." implyies that I am a being and a neshama was placed in me rather than me being the neshama; how can we reconcile this lashon of the bracha with the concept of being a neshama rather than having a neshama.
The way I read it is that that tefillah is for a person speaking from his own subjective perspective, not from the perspective of reality.
As Rav Shwartz says in his piece that starts on page 208 in Bilvavi 5, you always have to ask at which level Chazal are speaking and understand in which place what they say is meant to be applied. Sometimes things are written from the perspective of reality, Hashem's reality. More often, they are spoken from the human perspective. At a level at which human beings can sanely and understandably understand and function.
While it is absolutely true that we are a neshoma enclothed in a guf, and not the other way around, psychologically, we usually identify ourselves with our guf/mind. (The mind/personality is also part of the guf.) Therefore, I would say that it is likely that the tefila of Elokai Neshama is speaking from the perspective of how we usually feel. We feel that the neshama was placed within us so the tefillah is written from that perspective, from our perspective, even though it doesn't reflect the truth from the point of view of "reality" or "Hashem's perspective."
One of the things I quote more often is the Gra's distinction between tefillah and tachanunim.
In short, there are three mitzvos in what we call "davenin": qeri'as shema, tefillah, and tachanunim. Everything else is preparation and ramp down for those three mitzvos.
Tefillah is davening for what we're supposed to consider important. It's an excercise in bringing oneself up to the A-lmighty. (To stray from the Gaon for a moment, both R SR Hirsch and R' YB Soloveitchik make this point based on the fact that the verb is usually used in the hitpa'el, reflexive (something done to oneself), "lehispallel", not "liflol".)
Tachanunim are an expression of what one actually needs to turn to one's Father and pour out. The ideal time is after tefillah. As in the list in Berakhos (17a) of various tannim who "basar tzelosana -- after their tefillah [Shemoneh Esrei] would say", including Mar berei deRavina who said E-lokai Netzor.
Even more ideally is that the two modalities mix, that one insert personal requests and qavanos into Shemoneh Esrei, and that one start with a scaffolding (such as E-lokai Netzor or Tachanun -- not the name!) for tachanunim.
(Tachanunim today are mostly associated with Breslover hisbonenus. However, how many of us remember our grandmother's old book of Yiddish "techines"?)
One of the things the Gra points out in distinguishing tefillah and tachanunim is the plurality. Shemoneh Esrei, the essence of tefillah, is in the plural. E-lokai Netzor is in the singular. Tefillos are always in the plural, because we should never feel isolated from the whole of Kelal Yisrael. Tachanunim can be either plural or singular.
I gave all of the above because it connected when I read B.W.'s reply:
> The way I read it is that that tefillah is for a person speaking from
> his own subjective perspective, not from the perspective of reality.
> As Rav Shwartz says in his piece that starts on page 208 in Bilvavi 5,
> you always have to ask at which level Chazal are speaking and understand
> in which place what they say is meant to be applied. Sometimes things
> are written from the perspective of reality, Hashem's reality. More
> often, they are spoken from the human perspective. At a level at which
"E-lokai Neshamah" is written in the singular; eg the opening word is "My G-d" not "Our G-d". By the Gra's rule, this means it has to be tachanunim, an expression to the Father of how we are feeling now. IOW, if we fold the two ideas together, the Gra is telling you that anything in the singular is from what RIS called "human perspective".
Like E-lokai Neshamah!
So, it all fits.