Reincarnation in the Kabbalah

Love your articles on mystical Judaism. I'm very > curious... I've read in many places that in mystical forms > of Judaism, such as the Kabbalistic schools of thought, the > doctorine of metepsychosis, or transmigration of souls > (reincarnation), is acknowledged. Is it true? I'd love to > learn more about it! -------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, According to the Kabbalah, souls reincarnate. There are many texts dealing with this. To try to cover as much ground as possible in less than a gigabyte of data, we are presenting "The Tractate of Reincarnation of Souls" found in "the Law of the Pious" by Rabbi Immanuel Chay Riki. If there is continued interest in the subject, we will translate material from the master himself, the Ari, zal, from his teachings in "the Gate of Reincarnations" written by a disciple of the Ari, Rabbi Chaim Vital, zal, G-d willing. Chapter I --------- Paragraph 1: If a soul could have learned more Torah but refrained from doing so, or if it could have done a good deed and refrained from doing so, or if it committed a sin and if these sins of comission or omission cannot be rectified by the soul entering the body of another person - then the soul must reincarnate. Paragraph 2: Here is how it works. The sinning soul enters the body of a new born baby and suffers whatever suffering that body undergoes and cannot separate itself from that body until it dies. Paragraph 3: Therefore, if a person knows that his soul is a reincarnated soul and he knows for which sin his soul has been reincarnated, he should strive strongly to rectify the sin, even though the rectification of that sin will cause his death, since there will be no longer any reason for him to live. Paragraph 4: Still, he should carry out all the good deeds that come his way, even if he already did those good deeds in his first body and so has no need of rectification concerning them. But he does not have to exert himself to do them where as the good deed that he neglected to do in his first body he must exert himself to do since it is for this purpose that the soul reincarnated. Those good deeds that a Jew must do, i.e. those that one is commanded to do at certain specific times (eating unleavened bread on Passover, etc.) - he must do. If he neglects to do them, he will have to reincarnate because of them. Paragraph 5: Still the punishment for good deeds that were neglected and not done is different for each soul, depending on its root in heaven. Paragraph 6: Every high soul that already has its place in Paradise, still when it's time for it to rise to still a higher place, it is judged and the soul is punished for even the most seemingly insignificant of its omissions. Paragraph 7: This process goes on forever. The higher a soul travels, the more is expected of it. Chapter II ---------- Paragraph 1: The rules of reincarnation are as follows: The soul can reincarnate three times, beside the first time it was in this world. If the soul did not succeed to rectify anything in those three times, this is proof that the soul contains more evil than good. The good that it contains is therefore given to the son of the person or to another person whose soul root is the same as his. Paragraph 2: Therefore, righteou people who involve themselves with the wicked people, seeking to help them spiritually - if the wicked refuse to repent, then the good that is in them will go to the righteous and the bad that is in the righteous will go to the wicked so that the righteous are left with all the good and the wicked are left with all the bad. The soul of the wicked is then completely destroyed. This is what our sages meant when they said: "If one merits he takes another's portion in Paradise and the other person takes his portion in hell." Paragraph 3: If on the other hand, in the three reincarnations the soul did at least begin to rectify its shortcomings, then it can reincarnate even a thousand times until it reaches the final repair. Paragraph 4: Therefore, the righteous much prefer to reincarnate than endure the fires of hell, which is avoided if in each reincarnation they accomplish something. Paragraph 5: But for the wicked, its better after three reincarnations that they are sent to hell. They only stand to lose by having more reincarnations. Paragraph 6: The souls of women can enter the body of another person, but they cannot reincarnate (enter the body of a new born baby). The difference between the men and women is that men are commanded to learn Torah, whereas women are not. The Torah learning of the men makes it difficult for the fires of hell to have any affect on the men. For this reason, the souls of men need to reincarnate. Paragraph 7: Now, there are five levels of the soul: soul, spirit, breath of life, living force, only one. The rules of soul, spirit and breath of life are identical. However, unlike soul, spirit and breath of life cannot be rectified by hell, they can only be rectified by reincarnation. Living force and only one come from a very high world. Paragraph 8: There's a concept of "the righteous who suffer and the wicked who prosper." This is caused by soul transmigration. The righteous suffer because of sins committed in a previous incarnation. The wicked prosper because of good deeds done in a previous incarnation. Chapter III ----------- Paragraph 1: All souls that were once in this world and their souls, spirits, and breaths of life were changed, when they come a second time, they are called "reincarnations." This applies even to those parts of Adam's soul which fell into the hands of the forces of evil as a result of his sin. The rule is, a reincarnated soul can never achieve its spirit. The soul must reincarnate a third time to unite with its spirit. Paragraph 2: Still, if the soul rectifies itself, it can be certain mystical intentions redeem its spirit from out of the hands of the forces of evil. Their redeemed spirit then enters the body of another person, but it cannot enter the same body with the soul. Paragraph 3: The breath f life cannot be reached at all even to place it in the body of another person until the body dies and the soul reincarnates another time. Paragraph 4: If however, the spirit and the breath of life were not changed in the first incarnation, only the soul was changed, then in its reincarnation the soul can merit to its spirit and breath of life if it rectifies itself. Paragraph 5: The changed soul that transmigrates with its spirit and breath of life, if it sinned in the first incarnation, it must reincarnate, but if it only neglected to do a good deed - it can be repaired by entering the body of another person (not being born into a new baby). Paragraph 6: Sometimes the soul, spirit and breath of life reincarnate simultaneously in three separate people. If the soul sins, G-d forbid, then all three of them, soul, spirit and breath of life go down into the hands of the forces of evil to be reincarnated again in one person. But since only the soul sinned in the previous incarnation, the body is really "inhabited" only by the soul. The spirit and breath of life merely tag along. They gain by the good deeds done by the new body but do not lose by any sins committed. Paragraph 7: Still, since the spirit and breath of life tagged along, they must endure all the sufferings that the body goes through including the pain of death. Chapter IV ---------- Paragraph 1: Sometimes a soul of a man is punished for a certain sin by being reincarnated in the body of a woman. That woman cannot have children since she is "inhabited" by a male soul. Unless a female soul will transmigrate and enter the woman in mid-life (the rules of transmigration are explained in the tractate immediately preceding this tractate). What happens then is that the transmigrated female soul is reincarnated into the baby that is born. Paragraph 2: For this reason it is impossible for such a woman to have a male child. Since only a female soul transmigrates and enters the body of another living woman and then be born as her child. Also, the woman cannot have another female child, unless the first one dies. Paragraph 3: Still, sometimes by great merit, another female soul transmigrates and enters the woman's body and is born reincarnated as the woman's baby. Paragraph 4: Likewise, through great merit this woman with a man's soul can have a male child. The baby comes from the female which transmigrated into her body. But the female soul leaves the baby as it's being born making room for a male soul to enter the baby's body. Paragraph 5: This joining of souls is only possible if there is a root connection between them in the first place. Paragraph 6: A person who died and his soul was judged that it must reincarnate and his wife was pregnant, the baby born with the soul of the deceased husband reincarnated. Chapter V --------- Paragraph 1: If a person sins with his friend - then he will have to reincarnate together with him to help him in his next incarnation even if his soul root is different. If he is from the same soul root, then even if he is completely righteous, he must reincarnate to help his soul-mate. Paragraph 2: If a soul reincarnates because it sinned in its first incarnation - the odds are that it will sin again. If the soul did not sin in its first incarnation, but merely neglected to do a good deed - the soul has a better chance of not sinning. If the soul is reincarnated in order to do a good deed that it never had a chance to do in its first incarnation - the odds that it will not sin. If the soul reincarnates to help souls rectify themselves, it will certainly not sin. It's also possible for such a soul to achieve its spirit and breath of life even in its first reincarnation. Paragraph 3: The first three times around a soul can be reincarnated and not have any soul-help. But after that, the soul will have other souls helping it. Chapter VI ---------- Paragraph 1: It is impossible for two old souls (souls that have been in this world before) to transmigrate together in one body. They can however reincarnate at birth in one body. However, a new soul can have with it even three old souls. The new soul holds the old souls together. Paragraph 2: The souls appear in order of greatness, the smallest first, then the bigger ones and so on. Paragraph 3: There's a double reincarnation. This means that a spirit and breath of life are reincarnated to join their soul in a certain body. Yet for some reason, they instead go to a different soul found in a different body since that soul is also from their soul root. Paragraph 4: A soul that inhabited a body that did not have any children - that soul cannot reincarnate or transmigrate even for the purpose of helping a soul mate unless it comes back together with another soul that did have children. Therefore, even if that soul is rectified, still it cannot unite with its spirit and breath of life unless the soul that it comes back together with is also rectified. Paragraph 5: A person who only had one soul, spirit and breath of life incarnated in him and he damaged only the soul, still he must do a repair as if he had damaged the spirit and the breath of life, since they were incarnated in him at the time that he damaged his soul. Chapter VII ----------- Paragraph 1: There are some souls that due to their past reincarnated in mineral, vegetable and animal. Their time of reconstitution is fixed. Those reincarnated in mineral can only rise to the level of vegetable in the mddle four Hebrew months of the year - Av, Elul, Tishrey and Chesvon. If the decree against them was not exhausted in those four months, even if it was exhausted the next month, they have to wait until the next year for those months to come around again. Paragraph 2: Those reincarnated in vegetable can only rise to the level of animal in the first four Hebrew months of the year - Nisan, Iyar, Sivan and Tamuz. Those incarnated in animal can only rise to the level of men in the last four Hebrew months of the year - Kislev, Tayves, Shvat and Adar. Paragraph 3: When the mineral enters the vegetable - the soul rises to the level of vegetable. When the vegetable enters the animal - the soul rises to the level of animal. When the animal enters the man - the souls rises to the level of man. Paragraph 4: There are two possibilities when a reincarnated soul in an animal enters a man when he eats the animal meat. The person can go crazy and act in an irrational manner or the soul can act as a transmigrated soul which enters a body and nobody is any the wiser, it is a hidden process. Paragraph 5: Sometimes grades are skipped. For instance, an animal can eat a mineral, a man can eat a vegetable or a man can eat a mineral. Paragraph 6: When grades are skipped, it's just harder to rectify the soul: so that sometimes the sinning soul wins out and causes its eater to sin. Paragraph 7: The rule is that any Torah scholar even if he is ignorant in the secrets of the Torah can raise a soul from the animal level to the human level. A Torah scholar who knows the secrets of the Torah can raise the soul from the vegetable level to the human level. A true mystic can raise the soul from the mineral level to the human level. Paragraph 8: However, the ignorant person cannot raise the soul even from the animal level to the human level. I hope this answers your question. If you are interested, we will be more than happy to provide more information on this matter from the classical sources of the Kabbalah.