This article is excerpted from Shabtai Teicher's new translation and commentary on "Sabba d'Mishpatim" from the Zohar,
THE OLD MAN IN THE SEA: Reincarnation, Resurrection, Redemption (part 1).
Resurrection of the Dead is one of the 13 Principles of Jewish Faith, explicated specifically by the Rambam (commentary on Mishnah Sanhedrin, Chapter 10). A short formula expressing the essence of each one of the thirteen principles appears in many standard prayer books. The formula relevant to Resurrection of the Dead is as follows:
"I believe with complete faith that there will occur Resurrection of the Dead at the time it is willed by the Creator, may His Name be blessed, and may His memory be exalted forever and ever."
The person…is a unique combination of soul and body….
The doctrine of Resurrection of the Dead is mentioned already in the Mishnah (c.170 CE), and the Talmud goes to great lengths to prove that it has been intimated clearly and repeatedly, albeit not stated expressly, by the Prophets and in the Five Books of Moses.
This principle of Jewish Faith concerns resurrection from the dead of the body and the soul. Reincarnation, on the other hand, is a phenomenon of the soul. Obviously, it is not the body that reincarnates from one lifetime to another. Moreover, it cannot be the "person" that reincarnates either. The person, for example, Isaac the son of Abraham, or Dinah the daughter of Leah, is a unique combination of soul and body. Just as the body does not reincarnate, so it seems that the combination of body and soul also cannot reincarnate.
However, the body of the person does come back to life at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead according to our belief. Consequently, the person who is the unique combination of resurrected body and rectified soul, which has a unique and particular name, also comes back to life at that time.
The complete entry of the Nefesh into the body, which is called tikun of the Nefesh, is accomplished only through the performance of mitzvot… ["Gate of Reincarnations" by the holy Ari, Chapter 4:2 - Mitzvot and Tikun].
This means that tikun proper applies to the completion of the Nefesh by the entry of new sparks, which is caused by the fulfillment of positive mitzvot.
In addition, the Ari states,Text "[Regarding one] who only received a Nefesh during his lifetime and didn't merit to completely rectify it and then dies, since the first body did not complete the tikun of all levels of Nefesh, then at the time of Resurrection of the Dead only those sections of soul that were rectified in the lifetime of that body return with it." (ibid)
Since the body has participated in the performance of mitzvot, it is only just that it should also share in the eternal reward that is the consequence of the performance of mitzvot. Therefore, it too comes back to life in the time of the Resurrection together with those parts of the soul that were rectified during its lifetime.
When this particular reincarnation will resurrect, it will receive only those sparks that were rectified through it. The other parts of the Nefesh will return to the other bodies wherein they were rectified.