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Do Jews Believe in Reincarnation?


Taken from here. Here are some quotes from the Talmud:

As long as a person is unsuccessful in his purpose in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, uproots him and replants him over and over again. (Zohar I 186b)

All souls are subject to reincarnation; and people do not know the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He! They do not know that they are brought before the tribunal both before they enter into this world and after they leave it; they are ignorant of the many reincarnations and secret works which they have to undergo, and of the number of naked souls, and how many naked spirits roam about in the other world without being able to enter within the veil of the King’s Palace. Men do not know how the souls revolve like a stone that is thrown from a sling. But the time is at hand when these mysteries will be disclosed. (Zohar II 99b)

The Bahir, attributed to the first century sage, Nechuniah ben Hakanah, used reincarnation to address the classic question of theodicy — why bad things happen to good people and vice versa:

Why is there a righteous person to whom good things happen, while [another] righteous person has bad things happen to him? This is because the [latter] righteous person did bad in a previous [life], and is now experiencing the consequences? What is this like? A person planted a vineyard and hoped to grow grapes, but instead, sour grapes grew. He saw that his planting and harvest were not successful so he tore it out. He cleaned out the sour grape vines and planted again. When he saw that his planting was not successful, he tore it up and planted it again. (Bahir 195)

And here is the so-called Biblical basis for their belief:

Behold, all these things does God do — twice, even three times with a man — to bring his soul back from the pit that he may be enlightened with the light of the living. (Job 33:29)




1 Comment

  1. Green Walker says:

    Interesting, Judaism’s view about hereafter is unclear, diverging even in the resurrection of deads :

    – Some insist that it is a fundamental Jewish belief as described in the Mishnah (second century CE), and Maimonides (12th century CE)
    – Some don’t believe in resurrection because of the complete absence of any such notion expressed explicitly anywhere in early Jewish literature.

    Strangely your article pushed me to make some research, and I’ve discovered that reincarnation called Gilgul “cycle/wheel” or Gilgul Ha Neshamot is an existing concept in the Jewish teachings accepting Kabbalah (a collection of texts discussing Judaism’s mystical tradition) :

    – A complex process in which a transmigration of certain parts of the soul is possible. The reuse/recycling of the parts may create spiritual connection between these entities, sharing experience or offering a new chance, involving a concept of rectification called tikkun (which means “repair”). The idea being that a later person comes to “fix” what didn’t go right with a previous person (as in making a correct choice where the previous person made an incorrect one).

    – There is also a concept called ibbur (incubation), where a soul (or a part thereof) can become a part of a living person. It happens when a righteous soul decides to occupy a living person’s body for a time, and joins, or spiritually “impregnates” the existing soul.

    However, the returning part(s) of a soul are not always considered as being the same person. therefore they tend to think that the “self” is identified by the combinaison of the physical body plus the divine soul. wherein Soul’s matter can be recycled as it is the case for the physical matter.

    Liked by 1 person

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