Judaism and ReincarnationWritten by RabbiYerachmiel Tilles
Judaism and Reincarnation
How prevalent is Jewish belief in reincarnation today? How does it differ from Asian belief? What do Rabbis think of it?
The root of word " Torah" is verb "to instruct". Torah's primary function is to teach us how to live Jewishly, in harmony with G-d's will. As such, basic levels of scriptural interpretation lead to a practical understanding of mitzvot and related Jewish values.
" Many Jews are surprised to learn, or may even wish to deny, that reincarnation...is an integral part of Jewish belief..." The Torah, however, is a multi-layered document. Many of its deeper levels of interpretation are not readily accessible; and they may not lend themselves to obvious, practical application in daily life. As such, these more esoteric aspects of Torah are not of interest to significant segments of Jewish population, including some rabbis and scholars.
Consequently, many Jews are surprised to learn, or may even wish to deny, that reincarnation - "revolving" of souls through a succession of lives, or "gilgulim" - is an integral part of Jewish belief. But this teaching has always been around. And it is firmly rooted in source-verses.
Examples abound. Ramban, one of greatest commentators on Torah (and on Talmud), and a seminal figure in Jewish history, hints several times that reincarnation is key to penetrating deep mysteries involved in mitzvah of yibum (the obligation of brother of a childless, deceased man to marry widow). In his explanation of Gen 38:8, he insists that Yehudah and his sons were aware of secret of reincarnation, and that this was a major factor in their respective attitudes towards Tamar.
" The responsibility lies with us..." The Jewish understanding of reincarnation is different from Buddhist doctrines. It in no way leads to fatalism. At every point of moral decision in his life, a Jew has complete free choice. If not for freedom of choice, how unfair it would be of G-d to make demands of us - especially when reward and punishment is involved! Reincarnation does not imply pre-determination. It is, rather, an opportunity for rectification and soul-perfection.
A JULY THIRD SUNDAY IN SOUTH GEORGIAWritten by Irvin L. Rozier
A July Third Sunday In South Georgia
Sunday morning, July 3d, 2005, arrived in south Georgia...it was a humid morning, but birds were singing, I could hear distance church bell ringing. I made some coffee and drank a cup of it on my porch. I then went to Lord in prayer, asking for his blessings as I was preparing to go preach at nearby nursing home where I have preached for last 17 years.
I arrived at nursing home, and was warmly greeted by residents. As song, "O What a Savior" began to play on stereo, spirit of Lord moved in a loving way. The feeble residents lifted their voices and hands as they sang along with song. We played a few more, including "Touring That City", a wonderful song about heaven and joys that await us.
I then opened word of God, and spoke on 1 Samuel Chapter 12 verses 16-19. The children of Israel had wanted their own king like other nations...a human king instead of King Jesus. The Lord granted their requests and gave them King Saul but he also sent trouble in land. Samuel, man of God, prayed unto Lord, and he sent thunder and rain, and all people feared Lord and Samuel...God's power was revealed in these thunders and lightnings, and made them realize that God indeed was in control of affairs of earth.
I then went over to 1 Kings 3, verses 5-28, and talked about another king, one sent by God, named Solomon. Solomon realized that without Lord, he was as a child and could not rule his people. In Gibeon, Lord appeared unto Solomon in a dream and asked Solomon what could he give him. All Solomon asked for was wisdom and an understanding heart to judge his people. The speech Solomon made pleased God, and God granted his request and also gave him long life, and riches and honor...see, everything comes from Lord. Mind you, all this was going on in a dream...yes, Lord speaks to his children in dreams. Solomon awoke, and knew it was a dream. Then, his wisdom was put to test when two women came to him for a decision about a child. Solomon judged rightly in case, and all of Israel heard about it and they feared (respected) Solomon because they could see that wisdom of God was with him. May Lord God give us leaders of wisdom, and judges of understanding.