Reincarnation to something domaim or into tsome'ach, etc., happens at specific times of the year. For example, someone who reincarnated into something inanimate for a few years, when the time arrives for him to ascend to the higher level of tsome'ach, he can only do so during the four middle months of the year: Av, Elul, Tishrei, and Cheshvan.1 If the time to ascend occurs during these four months then he will ascend. If not, he will have to wait until these four middle months come around again.

The time to be elevated from tsome'ach to chai is the first four months: Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, and Tammuz.2 The time to be elevated from chai to midabair is the last four months: Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar.3

Even though the order of ascension is from the domaim to tsome'ach, then to chai, and finally to midabair, sometimes a person can climb two levels at once.

For example, if a soul reincarnated into something domaim such as dust, and an animal came along and ate grass which had the dust on it, then this soul will now reincarnate into that animal…

According to the principle "the nature of food is to become the eater". (Likutei Moharan) This is accomplished by digestion.

…thus rising two levels at once. Sometimes, he can even reincarnate all levels at once - from domaim to midabair - if a person eats food that has dust into which a soul reincarnated.

Someone who has reincarnated into water and salt is not considered to be part of domaim, rather tsome'ach, since water is life-giving - it flows and it is not stationary like dust. Salt itself is made from water and therefore is it considered part of tsome'ach. This is what the Sages say : One who takes salt from his quarry is guilty of 'cutting', and as it is well known [in the laws of Shabbat that] such cutting only applies to things belonging to tsome'ach. (Shabbat, Chap. 7)

These types of reincarnations are discussed in many places and are alluded to by the verse, "Rescue my soul from the sword, my only one from the grip of the dog [i.e. from reincarnation into him]" (Psalms 22:21).

The Sages hinted to this when they said: If the head of an ox is in the feeding basket, go to the roof and be very careful. One who sees a black ox during the month of Nisan should run from it and go up to the roof because the Satan is dancing between its horns. (Berachot 33a)

This is what they mean. Since the ox represents strict judgment4 it is better suited for the gilgul of a [wicked] soul more than other animals, and therefore you should run from it more than from other animals. For, there is no better time to reincarnate from vegetation to animals than in Nissan and the three months that follow. Therefore, during the month of Nissan, because of the addition of a wicked ibur, it might damage anyone who meets it. However, after he [the ox] is accustomed to it [the ibur], he will not cause harm, and therefore there is no reason to be so concerned regarding the elevation.

The ox, by eating the grass, allows the wicked person who was originally tsome'ach to reincarnate into it. We have already explained the story of Yanus and Yambrus, the sons of Balaam the wicked, who made the calf in the month of Tammuz, in regard to whom it says, "for the likeness of a grass-eating ox" (Psalms 106:20).

(Elsewhere it says in the name of Rav Chaim Vital that 'eisev' [grass] spells AShB - the head-letters of the words 'Shivah Asar b’Tammuz' [the 17th of Tamuz].)

The day on which Moses broke the two tablets, after seeing the golden calf constructed in the Jewish camp, is within one of the four months that souls reincarnate from vegetation to animals. Balaam’s sons were there at the time, and they used their magical abilities to draw down the radiance of the image of the ox from the merkavah [chariot] in Heaven.

Naval HaCarmeli reincarnated into something inanimate, and thus it says, "His heart died within him and he was a rock" (I Samuel 25:37). The secret of this is understood from knowing that Laban reincarnated into Balaam, and later into Naval HaCarmeli. Balaam, who was a snake-charmer, had power only in his mouth to curse people, and when Balaam was killed it was with a single rock something domem [literally meaning 'silent'] - to atone for the charming he did with his mouth.

When he further reincarnated it was into Naval HaCarmeli, originally for the sake of rectification. But instead he angered David when he said, "Who is David and who is Ben Yishai?" (Samuel I 25:10). David wanted to kill him; instead he came to rectify the wicked speech of Balaam. Instead, he [Balaam] repeated the mistake, and therefore "his heart died" when he remembered that he had once been a rock. This is why the verse does not say, "and he became a rock," but rather, "he was a rock."

You need not wonder how he knew this, for Naval was an important person and it is even likely that he was a prophet, or just someone with great understanding. It could be that his mazel understood this, even though he did not.

The concept of reincarnating into something inanimate is also hinted to by the verse, "The stone from the wall cries out" (Habakkuk 2:11). For, it is possible for stones in a wall to be reincarnations, or for wood rafters to be from the level of vegetation, and they will cry out from the extent of their punishment which they are undergoing. We will explain other verses along these lines.

[Translation and commentary by Perets Auerbach.]