There is a belief that after we die our soul is reborn into a new body or identity. In reincarnation the soul is immortal and the body is perishable. Do Jewish people believe in reincarnation?
Yes, Jewish people do have the belief that reincarnation exists. The idea of reincarnation or revolving of your soul through many successions of life is referred to as Gilgul. Jewish mysticism states that the human soul must ascend through five different levels of the Sefirot.
Below we will look at how Jewish people see reincarnation and how it affects their life.
Judaism Reincarnation Beliefs
Whether or not reincarnation is real is a matter of existential and philosophical debate. There is no scientific proof that the idea of reincarnation is real.
The idea of reincarnation can be seen as far back as ancient Greece.
Jewish belief in reincarnation first existed in the ancient world. There were different versions of the afterlife with a continuing belief that the soul is immortal.
Today it is still a belief within many modern Judaism beliefs but is not an essential part of traditional Judaism teachings.
The Kabbalah teaches a belief in gilgul or the transmigration of souls.
What is Gilgul?
Gilgul is the belief in a concept of reincarnation that the soul cycles through different lives. Gilgul means cycle or wheel in Hebrew.
In Gilgul souls are seen to move through five cycles while being in different human bodies over each time.
The bodies that they are in will depend on the task and spiritual level the soul is going on at that time.
What are the Five levels in Gilgul?
Jewish mysticism believes the human soul has five different levels of the sefirot. The Kabbalah has given names to the different levels.
Each level has both outer spiritual functions and inner dimensions that relate to the human soul.
Below are the five levels of the human soul:
Nefesh or Lifeforce
The soul in this level is invested in the Action dimension.
Ruach or Spirit
The soul in this level is invested in the Emotions dimension.
Neshamah or Soul
The soul in this level is invested in the Intellect dimension.
Chayah or Living
This is the unconscious level of the soul.
Yechida or Singular
This is the transcendent root of the soul.
How is Gigul Different from Other Beliefs in Reincarnation?
Gilgul is different from traditional beliefs of reincarnation because it is not seen as an automatic transition. It is not seen as a punishment either.
It is the belief that ensures the Jewish soul can live enough to complete each of Judaism’s commandments.
Examples of Reincarnation
Many figures throughout Jewish history are believed to be reincarnated. There is the belief that Cain and Moses have been reincarnated into Rabbi Akiva. There is also one claim that Noah, the ark builder in the bible was reincarnated as Sir Isaac Newton.
There is also a claim by the Swedish author Barbo Karlen that they are the reincarnation of Anne Frank. She is said to have identified herself to her parents as Anne Frank when she was less than 3 years of age.
She has also identified Anne Frank’s house and the changes since she lived there. This was validated by Anne Frank’s first cousin.
Others have identified as Holocaust victims and survivors. I’ve Been Here Before: When Souls of the Holocaust Return by author Sara Yoheved Rigler documents the research she uncovered on holocaust-related dreams, phobias, and flashbacks.
Ibur Neshamot is the belief that more than one soul can inhabit a human body. After a person passes the soul migrates into the body of a living person. I
bur refers to pregnancy because it is said a person becomes pregnant with a new soul.
Jewish people do have a belief in reincarnation. The Kabbalah teaches the concept of Gilgul.
Gilgul is the belief that the human soul travels through five different levels to complete each of Judaism’s 613 mitzvot.
It differs from other reincarnation beliefs in that these levels are not seen as an automatic transition or a punishment.
There is also a belief that figures throughout Jewish history have been reincarnated. Some reincarnated individuals include Anne Frank, Noah, Cain, and Moses.
There is also a novel by author Sara Yocheved Rigler that documents the belief of reincarnated Holocaust victims and survivors.