September 30, 2013 1:14 am at 1:14 am #610755
What are your thoughts on the matter? I thought it was a bit creepy.September 30, 2013 2:00 am at 2:00 am #1117408WIYMember
Didn’t read it but yes ito not a comfortable subject. However on the positive side we came back to get it right this time so it’s really a tremendous chessed from Hashem.September 30, 2013 2:25 am at 2:25 am #1117409OutsiderMember
can you post a link? sorry I’m such a noob.September 30, 2013 4:16 am at 4:16 am #1117410
Some Rishonim held it was Pashut. Others held it was Apikorsus. The Rashash held it was wrong. The Chassidim didn’t learn the Rashash because they feld it bordered on Apikorsus.
What did Ami say?September 30, 2013 4:26 am at 4:26 am #1117411kkls45Member
I read it and thought that it was very interesting. Could be creepy, but it is a reality that some people are gilgulim.September 30, 2013 5:29 am at 5:29 am #1117412yitzchokmParticipant
I’m genuinely impressed you knew that tidbit of information. Most people don’t.
(although i don’t think you know the second -minor- reason)September 30, 2013 9:08 am at 9:08 am #1117413ChortkovParticipant
The Ami, for those who didn’t read it, has an article about gilgulim of souls from the Holocaust. They quoted a story about a “rosh yeshiva” who remained nameless, some Kabbalist/Psychyatrist sort of fellow, a dozen goyim, and a few women who dreamt they were in the holocaust which was, of course, irrefutable proof that they were there once before…
Then the Ami actually suggested that anybody who died thinking “I wish I wasn’t Jewish” would come back once again as a goy.
I am not at all knowledgeable in this area, so I won’t comment, but I found the article interesting yet distasteful. Not because I dislike reading about the holocaust, and not because of Gilgulim – but the thought of a woman writing an article without any halachic/hashkafik mekoros about a topic so obviously complicated and above our heads… annoys me.
I think there was a Chassidishe rebbe (Maybe the Yismach Moshe?) who I was told remembered his previous gilgulim as Moshe Rabeinu’s sheep, and of a bystander during the times of Korach “and he was the only one who didn’t take sides” or something like that.September 30, 2013 1:56 pm at 1:56 pm #1117414
yitzchokm: R’ Schachter has said it several times throughout the years. He throws anecdotes like that in to Shiur to keep everyone interested. He might have mentioned another reason but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.September 30, 2013 2:04 pm at 2:04 pm #1117415twistedParticipant
Rav Saadya Gaon mentions it as something that ‘some Jews’ picked up from the Greeks.September 30, 2013 2:20 pm at 2:20 pm #1117416
Wasn’t the Rashash the only gadol in the last several hundred years to cast doubt on gilgulim? Because of the Rashash and those opponents from several hundred years before him, it’s probably not kefira to deny gilgulim, but believing in gilgulim is totally mainstream hashkafa. It’s just something most people don’t like to think, talk or learn about. I recommend R’ Yaakov Astor’s book on evidence for the afterlife (which has a chapter on this topic) — it’s really interesting.September 30, 2013 4:03 pm at 4:03 pm #1117417
Yekke, you’re bothered by someone writing an article “without any halachic/hashkafic mekoros”?? That pretty much sums up a lot of the articles in the glossy Jewish publications that have come onto the market in recent years. The Jewish Observer, which contained articles penned by people who were in some cases themselves respected sources of information on Halacha and hashkafa, no longer exists. Presumably because there was no market for a Jewish magazine that lacked colorful photos, recipes, and let’s not forget- fabulous, true-to-life, nail-biting fiction. Every generation gets the manhigim they deserve. Apparently, the same goes for magazines.September 30, 2013 6:34 pm at 6:34 pm #1117418RedlegParticipant
Have you ever noticed that anyone who says that he or she is a gilgul was always someone important or significant in previous lives? No one was ever Joe Schmo ordinary.September 30, 2013 7:51 pm at 7:51 pm #1117419
Redleg, please see yekke’s post regarding Moshe Rabeinu’s sheep.September 30, 2013 8:23 pm at 8:23 pm #1117420
I had a full MO education, year in israel, etc and i had never even heard of gilgulim throughout those years.
I’m just amazed that a huge concept doesn’t seem to be part of the mainstream curriculum. Does yiddishkeit really believe in such things?September 30, 2013 8:37 pm at 8:37 pm #1117421crisisoftheweekMember
You would be suprised what crept into the mainstream curriculum and even into mainstream practice.
Do some research on Chanukah..it’s kind of eye opening.
Monogamy wasnt even a mainstream concept until Yidishkeit found itself in Europe and offending Christian sensitivities.
The notion that Judaisim has been unchanged for 3000 years is a very childish one.September 30, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm #1117422
Hanoch Teller has a story about a woman who he thinks was a Gilgul of the Chafetz Chaim. I don’t remember where it was, though. It was because she made a huge campaign for Shmiras Halashon and she lived for 27 years, which adds up to 120 with the CH”CH.
There is a statement in the Mishnah B’rurah that a woman cannot be a Gilgul of a man.September 30, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm #1117423
yitzchokm: Is the second reason that he was a banker? There is a famous story about that.October 1, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am #1117424
OhTeeDee, Yes, Judaism believes in such things. However, as I mentioned, it’s not absolutely required to believe in them, because there were some rabbis (mainly before the Zohar) who wrote against the notion of reincarnation, and also the Rashash, who lived less than 300 years ago.
The reason you didn’t hear about it in your MO education is because MO Judaism in general (like most of the Litvish world) stays away from kabbalah, and kabbalah is where the teachings about reincarnation come from.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t major modern or Yeshivish rabbinical authorities who have openly discussed it. For example, the Vilna Gaon wrote about gilgulim in his interpretation of the book of Yonah.
All or most chassidim are probably familiar with the concept of gilgulim, because unlike other groups, the study of kabbalah (through chassidus) is normal and widespread. However, even among them, the topic doesn’t come up all the time.
In my view, the main practical consequence of believing in gilgulim should be to provide further motivation to perfect yourself in this life (eliminating negative character traits and fostering positive ones, as well as following mitzvos and studying Torah), because if you don’t fulfill the mission of this gilgul, you may have to live again (and your life might not be that pleasant next time — you never know.)
Another thing is that there is a teaching I’ve heard from various sources (I don’t know the original source), that if you die without Hashem having forgiven you for a sin between man and God, you will have to spend some time in gehinom, but if you die without having a person forgive you for a sin you committed against them, then you will have to have another gilgul to atone for that.October 1, 2013 1:48 pm at 1:48 pm #1117425
Thanks yytz, appreciate the insight. It sounds to me like the concept is completely “di’rabbanan”, is that right?
it seems like we don’t have a lot to go on,(aside from some stories) we know that the reincarnation that hinduism and buddism teaches is nonsense, what makes anyone think that our neshamos really become something else if it isn’t mentioned anywhere in the torah?
In terms of your practical consequence, should’t you live a good life because you’re a mensch and know right from wrong?(and not because you fear coming back into a tough life?)October 1, 2013 2:24 pm at 2:24 pm #1117426oomisParticipant
The whole concept is strange to me. I always believed that we live, we die, and our neshamos go to Olam Haba, if Mashiach has not yet come. To think that we could end up reincarnated, is difficult for me to contemplate. But then again, so much of the mystical aspects of Judaism are similarly difficult, and that is why we do NOT study Kabbala.October 1, 2013 3:34 pm at 3:34 pm #1117427
OhTeeDee, You’re welcome! Yes, it is not mentioned in Tanakh, or even the Gemara, though I’m sure someone has tried to interpret pesukim as referring to gilgulim in some way. Ramban mentioned gilgulim, but the main way it was introduced into mainstream Judaism is with the publication and popularization of the Zohar (and the teachings of the Arizal and his contemporaries as well).
True, it’s not necessary to believe in gilgulim to have the right motivation. It’s just one possible source of extra motivation.
I guess another practical benefit could be that in some circumstances, a great tzaddik counseling a person with a lot of problems might be able to help them by figuring out that the problems derive somehow from previous gilgulim. (Perhaps like past-life regression therapy.) The Arizal did something similar, I believe (he was known for telling people who they were a gilgul of, and such things).
These are really just some random thoughts — I’m not a chosid or kabbalist or an expert on this topic by any means.October 1, 2013 4:16 pm at 4:16 pm #1117428
Gilgulim do exist. In the past, every single one of us went through a stage where we were a rock, then a cow, and i dont kow the rest of the chain, but rest assured that it took a lot of pain and suffering for us to reach the point of being human. the rabbi i heard this from, said that if we do more things wrong than right in this lifetime, we will go through the process again.October 1, 2013 4:48 pm at 4:48 pm #1117429zahavasdadParticipant
every single one of us went through a stage where we were a rock, then a cow, and i dont kow the rest of the chain, but rest assured that it took a lot of pain and suffering for us to reach the point of being human.
That sounds alot like HinduismOctober 2, 2013 4:36 am at 4:36 am #1117430BigGolemParticipant
“Do some research on Chanukah..it’s kind of eye opening.”
Could you elaborate on that?October 2, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am #1117431OutsiderMember
To lighten things up a bit, I have been quoted as saying: If I come back, I’d like to come back as a goat. That way if someone bothers me, I could just butt them in the tuches, and they would just say “Oh, he’s just a mean old goat”October 2, 2013 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #1117433Veltz MeshugenerMember
As I’ve posted (on other forums) in the past, I believe that in a past gilgul I was the son of a hardworking farmer who worked in the fields his entire life. He was a serf and had no hope of ever advancing his station. I was killed when I was twelve in a freak plowing accident, which was a good thing because I wasn’t much for farm work. My parents were very sad for a few weeks, but after a while they got used to it, and the fields weren’t going to harvest themselves.October 2, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm #1117434
I think the rabbi got this from the sefer hagilgulim.October 3, 2013 3:15 am at 3:15 am #1117435
I was reading the Wikipedia article on reincarnation (and other research) to see about this, and apparently Indian religions didn’t introduce art-of-moi’s type of reincarnation until recently. So it could be a Jewish idea first that they appropriated from us.
I did crack up, however, when there was a picture of a Jainist reincarnation symbol on the page. It was a Hamsa. So much for those who thought that a Hamsa was a Jewish mystical symbol…October 3, 2013 1:29 pm at 1:29 pm #1117436
Sam, it seems that there was plenty in judaism that is not unique to us. Some of mishpatim is mentioned in the code of hammurabi, etc
yytz – my main issue with the topic of gilgulim is if they are part of the cycle of life, how could it not be in the Torah (or at least elsewhere in Tanach)? i.e. is the time of the Zohar or when the Ramban discussed it coincide with it picking up popularity with Eastern religions?October 3, 2013 2:26 pm at 2:26 pm #1117437
Sam2, I don’t know about that — I did a bit of research and it seems that reincarnation was mentioned in Hindu texts starting around 2600-3000 years ago.
Regardless, though, it still could have come from Judaism, or even from pre-Jewish adherents of the Noahide derech. There is a teaching that Avraham Avinu’s brothers traveled east (which I think is mentioned in R’ Aryeh Kaplan’s book on meditation). So it’s possible all Eastern religions were influenced by Judaism.
The fact that Jainism uses the Hamsa does not prove that they used it before us, or that it’s not an authentically Jewish symbol. Not that it matters — the Hamsa has a long history in Judaism and we don’t need to establish we’re the first or only ones to use it to have Hamsa symbols in our art and jewelry and such.October 3, 2013 2:50 pm at 2:50 pm #1117438just my hapenceParticipant
OhTeeDee – There’s a difference between that which is mefurash in the Torah and is essentially a set of “common-sense” societal laws and abstract mystical traditions that have no obvious basis is the Torah, nor in common sense. I mean the Jainist symbol is called an ahimsa for crying out loud. Even the name is nicked and given a slight reworking to sound Jewish.October 3, 2013 3:48 pm at 3:48 pm #1117439
yytz: The history of a Hamsa in Judaism is neither long nor strong. There are serious Chukas Akum issues with it.October 3, 2013 3:51 pm at 3:51 pm #1117440
Just my hapence, Hamsa means five in Arabic. I don’t think you can accuse Jews of making it up to sound less jain. Ahimsa means compassion or something in Hindi, I think — not sure if it’s somehow related to the word Hamsa.
OhTeeDee, I see what you’re saying. The Zohar was according to tradition written by Shimon Bar Yohai in Talmudic times and published for the first time in Spain in the 1200s. I’m not familiar with the cultural context of the time, but I’m fairly sure Hinduism and Buddhism were not popular there at the time — my guess would be that they would be completely unknown. Hinduism was traditionally confined to India, and Buddhism never became popular further West than Afghanistan. The Ramban’s mention of gilgulim had to do with his explanation of yibum (marrying your brother’s widow), and I don’t see any connection of this to Eastern religions.
It’s true there’s no obvious reference to gilgulim in the Torah, Tanakh or even the Mishnah or Talmud. However, it is conceivable that belief in reincarnation was passed down from teacher to student in small kabbalistic circles, and only revealed in the 1200s when someone (Hashem?) decided that it was time to reveal these teachings to the world. It is also conceivable that gilgulim are real, but that they weren’t part of the original belief system of Jews at all, until by ruach hakodesh and other spiritual experiences great tzaddikim like Shimon Bar Yochai or later figures realized that gilgulim is part of how Hashem runs the world.
Keep in mind that many things that are part of normative Judaism today are not found in the Torah or Tanakh (detailed descriptions of gehenna, olam haba, lighting shabbat candles). We rely on not only the Oral Torah, but also the teachings of the gedolim and tzaddikim in all the subsequent generations. If gilgulim is heretical or not true or whatever, then why did virtually all rabbis come to accept it within a few hundred years of the publishing of the Zohar? Just a thought!October 3, 2013 4:21 pm at 4:21 pm #1117441
JMH – then my question is simply, if it has no basis in common sense or the Torah – How do we know it is part of our Mesorah and not just the ideas of a single man (or group).October 3, 2013 5:03 pm at 5:03 pm #1117442Ragachovers AssistantMember
The MAHARSH”O (Shabbos 152b) states that a NESHAMA “could” come back (reincarnated) up to three times. However, the NESHAMA of a perfect TZADIK – TZADIK GOMUR – does not get reincanted:
????”? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?
????? ??? ????? ????? ???’.
??? ??? ????? ??? ????? ????? ???? ??? ??? ??? ????? ???? ?? ?”? ???? ????? ???? ????? ????? ?? ??????? ???? ?? ?? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ?? ??? ???”? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ??”? ?????? ?? ?????? ?????? ??? ??? ???? ????? ??? ????? ????? ????? ????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ???”? ??? ???? ?????? ??? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ?????? ?????? ???? ????? ?????? ???? ??? ????? ??? ??”?:
However the BAAL HATANYA (Reb Shneuer Zalman of Liadi ZT”L)
For example, there are MITZVOS that only a KOHEN could fulfill them. So, even a TZADIK who was not a KOHEN, comes back in the next GIGUL as a KOHEN in order to fulfill the mitzvos of a KOHEN:
See the orignal at:
?? ??”? eight lines from the bottom of the page.October 3, 2013 5:37 pm at 5:37 pm #1117443wallflowerParticipant
@Sam2, you’re referring to Chedva Zilberfarb. I believe the story is in Hanoch Teller’s Hey Taxi.
And FYI…Hamsa means five in Arabic. Ahimsa means nonviolence in Sanskrit. No connection.October 3, 2013 6:07 pm at 6:07 pm #1117444just my hapenceParticipant
yytz/wallflower – I know, but doesn’t it strike you as odd that a symbol known to have been used by a different religion before its first documented use in ours bears a strikingly phonetically similar name. They may mean completely different things but the fact that the names sound so similar is a little suspicious.
OhTeeDee – Good question. Many, many rishonim didn’t believe that gilgulim is part of our mesorah. It mostly became a more mainstream belief around the time of the Ari Z’al, and mostly due to his talmidim spreading the idea and then further popularised by the rise of chassidus. Does this mean that it was one man’s idea? Not necessarily, there are references to Jewish beliefs in metempsychosis since the early geonim and, if you learn certain sugyos in certain ways, possibly in the gemoro too so it may have some claim to mesorah via torah sheba’al peh… It’s not a cut-and-dried issue…October 3, 2013 6:49 pm at 6:49 pm #1117445
yytz: The standard assumption nowadays is that the Zohar is primarily the teachings of R’ Shimon Bar Yochai (it can’t entirely be because it quotes Amoraim), but for your own knowledge you should look up the word pseudophygria.October 3, 2013 7:23 pm at 7:23 pm #1117446
i’m chatting with my father about sheidim and gehenom once and we are trying to reconcile yiddishkeit’s take from the “hollywood” junk.
Long story short, my father says something like “I don’t believe in any of that supernatural stuff and i think you can live a life of torah/mitzvos without any supernatural”
All i could think to myself was (but i didnt have the chutzpah to say out loud) isn’t this all supernatural?
Anyway, can’t wait to ask him about gilgulim 🙂October 3, 2013 7:52 pm at 7:52 pm #1117447Yserbius123Participant
To get back on the subject, I hated the article. It basically brought a few examples of people who were inordinately hateful or fearful of Germans and/or obsessed with the Holocaust then pretended that they were gilgulim from that time. The funniest anecdote was with some hypnotherapist (while trying as hard as possible to avoid using any derivative of the word “hypnosis”) who claimed to have found gilgulim memories in people. I guess he’s a little out of date, as I believe it was in the 70s when a similar hypnotist was debunked and shown that the patient would often just construct the memories to make the hypnotist happy.October 3, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm #1117448
Although the Gemara doesn’t openly discuss Gilgulim, in retrospect it is obvious that that is what they meant when, in Bava Kama, they spoke of a person becoming an animal after his death. Also, the many Chazals about how this one is also that one and the like are best explained with Gilgul. In fact, this is one area where the rationalists and the Kabbalists are on the same page. The ibn Ezra seems to imply this when he says that Bilaam is not Lavan and that when Chazal say that he is, it is probably a Sod.
Gilgul was not openly discussed by the Ramban. He treated it like a Sod Gadol, and only hinted to it. However, one generation after the Ramban it is an open discussion, possibly because of the Zohar Hakadosh. Rabbeinu Bachya and the Rikanti speak of it openly.
Rabbeinu Saadya Gaon mocked the belief in it. The Rikanti relates that the Ri Sagi Nahor was able to tell previous Gilgulim. The fact that it was such a well guarded secret shows that it wasn’t meant to be understood as a person jumping around from body to body. The Arizal speaks of many types of Gilgulim. Without understanding it properly there will be open Stiros.
The Maharal in Torah Ohr, where Chazal speak of Memuchan being Haman, explains that he was in essence the same person. Reading that might shed light on the whole concept, and how it is meant to be understood.October 4, 2013 5:38 pm at 5:38 pm #1117449
BY THE WAY, AMONGST THE EARLY MEKUBBALIM, POST ZOHAR, IT WAW A MACHLOKES WITH SOME WELL KNOWN MEKUBALLIM HOLDING STRONGLY AGAINST GILGUL, SO IT DEFINITELY WAS NOT A BELIEF THAT WAS BROUGHT TO LIGHT IN THE ZOHAR.October 4, 2013 5:48 pm at 5:48 pm #1117450
I am open to believing in gilgul, but definitely do not think one must believe in it.
The most disturbing part of this belief is that there are many people out there who are not well versed in nistaar or even nigleh and when there is a tragedy or an unfortunate occurence, they KNOW Hashem’s plan and tell people and explain that this one was a gilgul of that one, etc. Or is someone loses money, well perhaps you stole money from that person in a different lifetime.
This enables people to accept the most horrible things that may occur. What happens is that instead of true emunah where we may NOT understand but still accept an occurence as Hashem’s plan, their belief is based on the fact that they THINK they know Hashem’s plan. Of course, if we were to all know Hahshem’s plan, emunah would be a simple thing. Therre is no challenge. However, the idea is to have emunah without KNOWING Hashem’s plan, yet our arrogant minds delude us into thinking that we can explain everything with gilgul and makes emunah seem so simple.
Moshe Rabbeinu asked Hashem why do bad things happend to tzaddikim and vice a versa? Hashem did not answer him!! This is a gemara. If gilgul is an authentic belief, what was MOSHE’s Question ? Why was this question so difficult for him to understand??? Even today’s hamon am “know” that it all makes perfect sense because of gilgul.
CAN ANYONE ANSWER WHY MOSHE REBBEINU DID NOT APPEAR TO KNOW ABOUT GILGUL? IS THAT NOT A PROOF AGAINST IT?October 4, 2013 6:12 pm at 6:12 pm #1117451Yungerman from LakewoodMember
Gilgulim is an invention of the superstitious. This in no way takes away from the greatness of those who invented gilgulim. Great men could also be superstitious.October 4, 2013 6:13 pm at 6:13 pm #1117452
It is plain to see in the Zohar Hakadosh. Even non-Mekubalim accepted it, albeit begrudgingly, after the Zohar Hakadosh.
The Gemara is not unanimous about Moshe Rabbeinu not getting an answer. The Ramban says that this is not something that you can figure out on your own. It is only know Bikabala. Moreover, while Gilgul answers the question from one angle it doesn’t answer all the problems.October 4, 2013 6:15 pm at 6:15 pm #1117453
Ralphdh, I think i understood what you were trying to say, and can’t disagree, until you got to the part about Moshe Rabbeinu. Most of us (I’d say just about all of us here in 5774) have no idea what exactly Moshe Rabbeinu knew. That’s the whole point of nigleh and nistar.October 4, 2013 6:25 pm at 6:25 pm #1117454
Ralph, to respond to your first comment, gilgulim are mentioned numerous times in the Zohar. What kabbalists after the publication of the Zohar disputed reincarnation?October 4, 2013 6:27 pm at 6:27 pm #1117455🐵 ⌨ GamanitParticipant
ralphedharvey- Where does it say that Moshe Rabeinu knew everything?October 4, 2013 6:53 pm at 6:53 pm #1117456
Gam, Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu didn’t know is not Torah.October 4, 2013 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #1117457
Golfer and Haleivi – I am trying to say that Moshe could not have known about gilgul because he would not have had an issue with sechar vonesh (it seems like an injust world when tzaddikim are punished and the wicked proper, etc.)and would never have posed his question.If every chaim yankel today knows about gilgul as a true belief, and so easily understands why bad things happen to good people, for instance children L”A dying young, obviously Moshe knew about it. The fact that Moshe still was so bothered by the question tells us that he was unaware of gilguland Hashem did not answer him, so he still did not know about gilgul.
For there to be a mesorah, it must come from MOSHE at Sinai. It can not come later on. Impossible. Mesorah means from Sinai. So, if at least according to one opinion of that gemara, Moshe was apparently unaware of the secret of gilgul and Hashem did not provide him with that answer, where on earth did that belief come into our mesorah?
Nistar might be “hidden” from most of us but it still must have come down to MOshe at Sinai. If it did not, then it is not true nistar.
YYTZ – I will esearch that as offhand I do not recall, but I do believe there were quite a few.
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