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Kabbalah teaches that there are many possibilities a soul can take before its final resurrection.

Four Types of Reincarnations

Four Types of Reincarnations

Gate of Reincarnations: Chapter Eleven, Section 14

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Four Types of Reincarnations
Kabbalah teaches that there are many possibilities a soul can take before its final resurrection.

Four types of gigulim are explained.

In order for the Nefesh to become whole to ascend to its place, there are two conditions. The first is called tikun of the completion of the Nefesh, which is fulfillment of all the 248 positive mitzvot. The second is tikun of the blemish of the Nefesh if it transgressed any of the 365 negative mitzvot.

Furthermore, it is known that the Ruach cannot enter the body until the Nefesh is complete in these two parts.

The Ari will now go on to delineate four laws that govern the phenomenon of gilgulim.

[Firstly], a Nefesh could be one particular spark that cannot be divided further. If it were a smaller unit than this, it could not be called a "whole Nefesh".

In other words, it is one of the 600,000 Minor Sparks of one Major Root. Theoretically, things could be divided into smaller and smaller units ad infinitum. However, if this soul were divided into something smaller than this final soul unit called a "spark", then it could not be called a whole Nefesh.

Afterwards, if the person sins, the blemish is not accounted to the Nefesh but only to the Ruach….

If this [spark of soul] becomes complete in the two conditions that were mentioned, then it is called a whole Nefesh and it is ready to receive Ruach. Afterwards, if the person sins, the blemish is not accounted to the Nefesh but only to the Ruach.

Secondly, even if she is complete with all 248 positive mitzvot, but in the lifetime of a body she transgressed one of those sins that prevent resurrection of the dead, then this Nefesh will reincarnate into a second body by herself. She will rectify the damage of this transgression there, but the mitzvot were already done.

In other words, the purpose of her gilgul into this second body is rectification of the transgression for which the first body is denied resurrection. In the second body this Spark of Nefesh does not need to accomplish mitzvot because she has already completed them.

Afterwards, in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead she will enter the second body, but the first body will be wiped out from the world….

Afterwards, in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead she will enter the second body, but the first body will be wiped out from the world. This is even more so if she did not complete all the 248 positive mitzvot in the first body.

Thirdly, she did not complete all the 248 positive mitzvot in the first body, but she was not damaged by any transgression. Or, she was blemished by a transgression, but not one of those that cause destruction of the body in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead. Then all of her will reincarnate into a full gilgul in a second body.

It is a full gilgul, not an ibur or a Double gilgul. The main point here is that the Spark of Nefesh totally reincarnates into a second body. Although mitzvot were performed in the first body, and that body will arise with the merit of those mitzvot in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead, the entire Spark must meanwhile reincarnate into the second body wherein its tally of mitzvot will be completed.

Afterwards, in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead, that [Spark of] Nefesh will be divided into parts, even though no single part among them will be called a whole Nefesh, as explained previously. Those fractions did perform positive mitzvot that were accounted to them. They will return with the first body in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead because those mitzvot were fulfilled within it.

In the time of the Resurrection of the Dead each body arises with a complement of soul equivalent to the mitzvot that were performed in its lifetime.

Nevertheless, these fractions need to reincarnate into a second body. Since they do not constitute one whole Nefesh, they must also exist within the second body when it is fulfilling the mitzvot that were missing.

If she transgressed some prohibition in the first body, then she will rectify it now in the second body. She will bear suffering and the pain of death together with it [the second body].

The fractions in the second body that do the mitzvot which were missing will arise in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead with the second body wherein they were done.

Any transgression that blemishes the second body will not affect the first fractions.

If the complement of 248 positive mitzvot is completed in the second body, and it is also not damaged by any transgression, then the Ruach will also enter into it [the second body] in its lifetime. Similarly, after the Resurrection of the Dead the Ruach will enter into the second body together with those fractions of Nefesh.

Fourthly, the Nefesh completed all the 248 positive mitzvot in the first body, but she was blemished by a slight transgression. She will reincarnate with another, newer Nefesh.

The Ari does not mean new souls of the first type discussed in previous chapters. These are souls of the second and even the third type, but they were never in the world beforehand, never blemished, and certainly they were never united in a single body together with the soul that is reincarnating.

Both sparks of Nefesh must actually be from the same Root….

This is called Double Gilgul. She will receive pains of suffering and death as a punishment for her [previous] transgression, but she will not be punished for the transgressions committed in the second body. However, she will receive reward for the mitzvot done in the second body. In the time of the Resurrection of the Dead she will return to the first body. The newer Nefesh, which is the main one of the second body, will take that body.

If the newer Nefesh were not from the same Root as the first Nefesh, then she would not reincarnate together with it. Both sparks of Nefesh must actually be from the same Root.

This reincarnation of the first Nefesh [in Double Gilgul] is also called ibur to some extent because she does not get punishments for the transgressions of the second body, and in the end she will return in the Resurrection of the Dead with the first body. The same applies to the third category when some parts of the Nefesh that were already rectified reincarnate with her other parts into a second body. The reincarnation of the rectified parts is called an ibur to some extent for the same reason.

It is called an ibur to some extent because the rectified parts do not suffer from the sins that are committed in the lifetime of the second body. Beforehand the Ari called the reincarnation of the third category a "full gilgul", but this was because they come at birth and they do not leave until death, and in these respects it is not like ibur.

It appears to me that the fourth category is not a "full gilgul" for the Nefesh. Rather, it stays there only as long as it needs to fulfill the blemish of the first body.

The reincarnating Nefesh of the fourth category (Double Gilgul) comes at birth, but it does not need to stay until death.

[She leaves] because she bears the suffering and pains of the second body.

The Ari wrote previously about the fourth category that "she will receive pains of suffering and death as a punishment for her (previous) transgression, but she will not be punished for the transgressions committed in the second body."

In other words, once she rectifies her blemishes from the previous gilgul, she does not need to stay in the second body. Her debt has been paid, and she does not need to suffer the pains attached to the death of the second body.

When she is completed she goes out while he [the person of the second body] is still alive, and she goes Above.

This contradicts what the Ari wrote in "Gate of Reincarnations" 5:1:

"They do not separate until death. They are called one Nefesh. As one they suffer the pain and punishments that are inflicted on the body throughout its lifetime, as well as the pain of death."

In most cases the first Nefesh does not complete its tikun until it also suffers the pain of death of the second body….

In Double Gilgul the first Nefesh reincarnates together with a second Nefesh into a second body because of some minor blemish, or to fulfill something missing to it from the first gilgul. Once she has completed that task, she does not need to suffer the pains and tribulations of the second body including the pain of death. However, the Benei Aharon suggests (and this clears up all the seeming contradictions) that in most cases the first Nefesh does not complete its tikun until it also suffers the pain of death of the second body.

If she does not complete her punishment until death of the second body, then she will stay there until she suffers the pain of death. That is why it is called "an ibur that is like a gilgul".

It is the same with the third category. The first fractions [of Sparks that were rectified] stay there in the sod of full gilgul until the mitzvot that were missing are fulfilled. When they are completed, they go out while [the person of the second gilgul] is still alive.

This statement is obviously difficult. The whole idea of the third category is that the first fractions of the Spark that were rectified in the first gilgul must reincarnate with the fractions of the Spark that are still missing tikun, and the Ari explicitly called them a "full gilgul".

In Section 10 of this Chapter the Ari wrote the following:

"There are sparks that have been preceded by (other) sparks from the Root of his soul who fulfilled all the mitzvot. In contrast, there are sparks that have been preceded by sparks (from the Root of his soul) who did not fulfill the mitzvot that he also has not yet fulfilled."

According to the Benei Aharon, this statement applies to the fractions of Sparks that are being discussed here. Sometimes there are fractions that must fulfill mitzvot that were already accomplished by some of its other fractions. When they fulfill those mitzvot, then the first fractions no longer need to stay. On the other hand, the fractions that fulfilled mitzvot that have not been repeated by later fractions will have to stay until the end.

Furthermore, according to the Benei Aharon, the entire statement of the Ari in Section 10 that has been quoted belongs here, and not there. In other words, the difference between preceding sparks that fulfilled mitzvot and preceding sparks that didn't applies to fractions of sparks, and not whole sparks. Although this solution is not easily acceptable, it does remove the doubt that the Ari expressed there concerning application of the statement to whole sparks. Also, this solution seems to be somewhat vindicated by the following words of the Ari.

If no [fraction of] spark among the preceding sparks has [ever] fulfilled the missing mitzvot, and they are from the same Root of his soul, then they need to come in full gilgul until the day of death. However, if the preceding sparks did fulfill the mitzvot, then it is sufficient to reincarnate as an ibur that is like a gilgul.

In other words, it is sufficient to come as an ibur that is like a gilgul. It is like a gilgul because it is from birth. It is like an ibur because these fractions may leave when the new sparks perform the mitzvot that the first sparks already accomplished.

In another place it has been explained that for the need of fulfilling a mitzvah an ibur might be sufficient.

See for example the following from Section 8 of this Chapter:

"The fourth category consists of those mitzvot that he cannot do unless G‑d forcibly puts him in a position to do one of them. Examples are Redemption of the first born son, Yibum, Chalitzah, giving a bill of divorcement….

There is a distinction concerning these (mitzvot) and those like them. He does not return to reincarnate if the opportunity to do one of them has not presented itself. He will merely come as an ibur, temporarily, until it is fulfilled, and then he will depart immediately."

Shmuel [Vital] says: All this I have gathered and sifted repeatedly from the sheaves that my Father, my Master bundled. It is the finest sifted flour. Among all the lessons on the reincarnation of souls it is the clearest explanation.

It is necessary now to also quote what the Benei Aharon wrote in this place.

"I have reviewed what was written until here, and I made a revised edition. From here onwards I did not have the opportunity, and it has remained (as I wrote it) originally. In a few places I made notes and some minor changes."

May the Rock of Israel save us from errors…!

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria […Ashkenazi ben Shlomo] (5294-5332 = 1534-1572 c.e.); Yahrtzeit (anniversary of death): 5th of Av. Buried in the Old Cemetery of Tzfat. Commonly known as the Ari, an acronym standing for Elohi Rabbi Yitzchak, the
G-dly Rabbi Isaac. No other master or sage ever had this extra letter Aleph, standing for Elohi [G-dly], prefaced to his name. This was a sign of what his contemporaries thought of him. Later generations, fearful that this appellation might be misunderstood, said that this Aleph stood for Ashkenazi, indicating that his family had originated in Germany, as indeed it had. But the original meaning is the correct one, and to this day among Kabbalists, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria is only referred to as Rabbenu HaAri, HaAri HaKadosh [the holy Ari] or Arizal [the Ari of blessed memory].
Yitzchok bar Chaim is the pseudonym of the translator, an American-born Jerusalem scholar who has studied and taught Kabbala for many years. He may be contacted through: webmaster@kabbalaonline.org. He translated the Ari's work, "Shaar HaGilgulim;" his translation into English (but with much less extensive commentary than offered here). Information about his translation in book form may be obtained through www.thirtysevenbooks.com
Rabbi Chaim Vital c. 5303-5380 (c. 1543-1620 CE), major disciple of R. Isaac (Yitzchak) Luria, and responsible for publication of most of his works.
Shabtai Teicher, a descendant of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Reshab, was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and settled in Jerusalem in 1970. He studied for over 7 years with one of the outstanding and renowned kabbalists of our generation, Rabbi Mordechai Attieh, and also studied deeply in various other fields of Jewish scholarship. He was a specialist in Lurianic Kabbala, edited and annotated the first eleven chapters of our English rendition of "Shaar HaGilgulim," and completed his manuscripts for "Zohar: Old Man in the Sea," in both Hebrew and English, shortly before his unfortunate passing in November 2009.
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