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FAQ: Death and Reincarnation - 1

FAQ: Death and Reincarnation - 1

Beginner Beginner
FAQ: Death and Reincarnation - 1

QUESTION: "How prevalent is the Jewish belief in reincarnation today? How does it differ from the Asian belief? What do the Rabbis think of it?"

ANSWER: Please see our article: Judaism & Reincarnation.

QUESTION: "What does the Kabbala say about death and dying? Does it say why good people die?"

ANSWER: It explains that at death the body dies and begins to disintegrate, but the soul lives on and ascends back to where it came from (with stops along the way depending on how it performed in its earthly sojourn).
No one can know for sure why a good person dies earlier than "expected"; the Talmud states that even Moses had trouble with this one. Kabbala offers a few possibilities, but it is impossible to know which applies. It could be he accomplished his mission, or residual effect from previous life, or to protect him from future downfalls, or as atonement for his generation, and so forth.

QUESTION: "What happens to the soul of a Jew that wishes to be cremated and is cremated. In other words, what happens to the soul from the time of death to the time of the cremation and then afterwards? It is my understanding that the soul gets obliterated (G‑d forbid) and that all existence ceases for that individual. Is this correct?"

ANSWER: The soul-body connection is obliterated with the cremation/obliteration of the body. The soul is adrift for a while (I can't tell you how long or even if it is a fixed length), and the situation is painful. That body cannot be resurrected. Yes, existence ceases for that individual, because "individual" (and its synonyms) refers to the body-soul combination. But the eternal soul cannot be so easily obliterated.

QUESTION: "If you name a newborn in memory of a deceased relative, does a spark of that particular relative's soul become part of the soul of the baby?"

ANSWER: There is a connection, although it is not always necessarily that strong. It works in the other direction too. We are taught that the parents experience "minor prophecy" so as to be inspired to give a name that is appropriate for the soul.

QUESTION: "What does Kabbala tell us about what happens after we die? My father passed away and I say Kaddish for him every day, because I was told that the soul needs the prayer to reach higher and higher. Can my father hear me, see me, does the soul have the ability to understand our world the same way a living person does?"

ANSWER: It is very rare and usually undesirable for a soul to maintain intense contact with the world. Nonetheless, our good deeds on their behalf cause a tremendous uplifting effect for their souls and they certainly derive pleasure from them. Have you read our article on Saying Kaddish ?

QUESTION: "If a person dies, it is the hand of G‑d and how can we mourn?"

ANSWER: We don't mourn G‑d's decision; we mourn (our loss or) the loss of the person we are hoping to comfort.

QUESTION: "When you die and leave this physical world, are you still aware of what is going in the physical world. For example, do you know what is happening with loved ones?"

ANSWER: As I understand it, while one may not be aware of every aspect of their lives, one can sense their happiness and sadness and derive pleasure from the good deeds they perform.

QUESTION: "In this world your soul is draped in a "physical" body, when you leave this world what type of 'garment' drapes your soul?"

ANSWER: Light, the encompassing light of the mitzvot that were fulfilled.

QUESTION1: "How is it determined which soul goes into which body?"

ANSWER1: Read carefully the Gate of Reincarnations series on our site.

QUESTION2: "In the Resurrection, would I arise from each body? Or, would some of my body (garments) just not rise?"

ANSWER2: The latter.

QUESTION: "Do we live more other lives in various life forms, like one life human, another animal or fowl?"

ANSWER: It can happen, but it doesn't have to happen. Usually incarnation into lower life forms is a punishment or a drastic rectification. This concept is discussed in the Gate of Reincarnations series on our site.

QUESTION: "I recently had a soul reading done by the founder of a group which claims to have links to the Kabbala. I was told that I have three souls in my body, two of which came in at around about the age of 12. I was told that my birth soul was depressed and that she removed it from my body. I am quite concerned about this for I have been left feeling quite disconnected and like something is missing since this occurred. I have searched the internet for information on multiple souls in one body and found this site very informative. I suppose I would like some feedback on what has occurred and whether it is reversible."

ANSWER: My advice to you is to:
1) Stay away from such people and certainly don't be so trusting of them.
2) Pray to the One G‑d, G‑d the Creator, to forgive you for turning to them and for a complete healing. If you do this sincerely I am sure you will almost immediately be answered and that you will feel much better.

QUESTION: "Why don't I remember my past reincarnation?"

ANSWER: Because we are not intended to. There are many things that we cannot have direct perception of because of the limited nature of the human condition. We are not angels and are not expected to try to be. But neither are we animals, and are not supposed to act like that either.


QUESTION1: "When the soul appears before the heavenly tribunal and the soul's earthly life is examined, does the soul have any influence on the decision - i.e. should this soul be sent to Gehinom or should this soul be reincarnated?"

ANSWER1: The soul is the main witness and testifier.

QUESTION2: "After you leave this world and face the heavenly tribunal, what questions are you asked and in what sequence?"

ANSWER2: There are (of course!) different opinions. Major ones from the Talmud are
1) Did you have fixed times for Torah study?
2) Did you look forward to the Messianic redemption?
3) Were you honest in money matters?

QUESTION: "I believed the family we are born into would be our family forever. Since Kabbala teaches there are several reincarnations, would I have several families? More than one set of beloved parents and siblings; more than one set of physical offspring? This is confusing."

ANSWER: Think about what you mean by "I".

QUESTION: "When Messiah comes, will the need for return trips end? If he provides the redemption for us, we will be free from self-atoning? That is a lot of work spanning all the sefirot."

ANSWER: At that time (or somewhat thereafter) the usefulness of returning and self-atoning will be greatly reduced. It is not such a big deal when the truth is so clear because of the great light.

QUESTION: "When we die after each incarnation, do we experience the joy and peace of being in the presence of G‑d? If we know everything there, do we still have to become flesh again, and become imperfect again?"

ANSWER: We come back because we are not yet qualified for that joy and peace and are still incomplete.

QUESTION1: "According to what we know, can we safely say there really is no death, because our souls are eternal and have awareness/consciousness of where we are and who we are?"

ANSWER1: There is no death to the soul, only to the body.

QUESTION2: "Do we have a spiritual body waiting for us when we die?"

ANSWER2: "Spiritual body" sounds like an oxymoron to me. At death, the soul sheds its physical body. Souls - even while in bodies! - have garments of light according to their mitzvah accomplishments.

QUESTION: "Will all our Jewish people have a part in the World to Come? Even though we are not exactly perfect, have we in fact sinned? Is G‑d willing to forgive us, even if we are ignorant and do not know to ask for His Forgiveness? Some people have not been fully trained."

ANSWER: Almost all, but there are some exceptions. For this you don't need Kabbala. See Rambam, Hilchot Teshuva, ch. 3-4.

QUESTION: "If we are supposed to have a totally spiritual existence after death based on what we have achieved in this life, what is the point of resurrection, where the spirit is reunited with the physical body? Is it not better to have a total spiritual existence?"

ANSWER: Nice question! But consider: Angels lead a totally spiritual existence. If that is the purpose, G‑d could have made us angels. But we are here for a different reason. The Torah created us as soul-body composites to give us the opportunity to elevate the physical to the level of the spiritual "to the level of" - not "to be purely spiritual and no longer physical". The bodies after resurrection will be very elevated and "spiritualized", but still physical.
To be fair, your position has considerable backing. It is an old dispute - which comes first: "Olam Haba"
("The World-to-Come") or "Techiyat Hametim" ("Restoration of the Dead")? Or rather, in terms of our discussion, which comes second? Which is the ultimate? If you think "total spirituality", then Olam Haba, the World-to-Come. If you think "the elevated spiritual", then Restoration of the Dead. Ramban and nearly all Kabbalists and Chasidim take the latter position, but Rambam and many other very great rabbis proclaim the former.

QUESTION 1: "I am 33 years old and 4 weeks ago lost my husband to cancer. I have been consoled by countless people who have told me that my husband's soul is still around "watching" over me and my 2 young sons. Is this true? If it is, then, does his soul retain his mind?"

ANSWER 1: Maybe, maybe not. There is no one rule that applies to all souls. But we do know that his soul takes pleasure when you feel and do good and is certainly prepared to be a conduit for your and your sons' prayers.

QUESTION 2: "If they can't, then I hope my husband didn't die for me to find my other true love."

ANSWER 2: No, of course not. We presume he died because his soul had finished its assigned tasks for this lifetime.

QUESTION 3: "If the answer to any of these questions is reincarnation, well then, where is my husband now, and when does reincarnation actually take place?"

ANSWER 3: No way to know. No one answer fits every case.

QUESTION4: "Also, I have always been told that a person has only one soul mate. I love my husband so much that the thought of loving another is incomprehensible. Can a person have 2 soul mates?"

ANSWER4: The Ari says that sometimes a person has a double soul mate: that is, the soul is split between two others.

QUESTION1: "I was wondering if there were any places in Kabbala where it says that non-Jews go through the process of reincarnation."

ANSWER1: I do not know any sources that explain specifically the nature of the souls of gentiles and their transmigrations, but it seems that the answer is probably not, but there are definitely special cases, such as characters that appear in Tanach (for example, Balaam, Jethro, Cozbi, and Nebuchadnezzar).
There are also roles that come back around all the time, such as Amalek, and no doubt individuals can choose to fulfill these roles. There are also gentiles who have Israelite souls because of good deeds, such as the souls of converts
(before they convert) and righteous gentiles.

QUESTION2: "Does a gentile undergo the same afterlife spiritual journey as a Jew?
 Does he get judged, possibly reincarnated or sent to Purgatory or Hell?"

ANSWER2: YES. Although obviously the standards are different.

Gentiles have souls that correspond to their 7 mitzvot. Definitely these souls have an obligation to serve G‑d and behave morally, and thus they have an afterlife as well. For more information on the 7 mitzvot of gentiles, check out .

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John C Shore San Angelo, Texas via February 1, 2016

Reincarnation The ruach goes back to G-d who gave it.
Eccl 3:21 and 12:7. The intellectual (soul)
goes to dust just like the flesh. It seems strange that the Zohar is used to amplify the Tanach. It seems strange that reading the Tanach (truth) does not delve into reincarnation per se. Reply

Eyov Shleimazel Essex, UK September 20, 2015

followup question = reprecussions of cremation quoting an FAQ answer
": The soul-body connection is obliterated with the cremation/obliteration of the body. The soul is adrift for a while (I can't tell you how long or even if it is a fixed length), and the situation is painful. That body cannot be resurrected. "
followup question:
Does that apply to the MILLIONS of Jews who were gassed in Auschwitz and then
cremated ? if not - why ? if yes - how can that be ? Reply

Kate Gladstone Albany, NY, USA June 28, 2015

I have often wondered I have often wondered how resurrection of the dead can occur in cases where (for instance) a human being drowns in the ocean and is eaten by fish, who are then eaten by people, who are then eaten by cannibal people, who then also eat each other. How will Hashem sort out the molecules of a person after they have been "recycled" through other people through the ecosystem (including, in this case, cannibals in the ecosystem)? And if Hashem can sort thiins out after such a chain of events, ,n why can't Hashem also sort things out after a cremation? Reply

Lorretta Ferreira Lisbon via June 9, 2015

re-incarnation How do the souls of two people - our first parents - re-incarnate into the bodies of billions. Reply

Anonymous India June 3, 2015

Reincarnation and Judgement day This is good information. Thank you ! I am Indian and it was good to read those information.
I want to know that what Judaism says about Judgment day and heaven or hell. If there is, it's become confusing that how it will be judge and on basis of which life?Suppose a souls reincarnate 100 times so which life would be judge? Does Soul get it's it reward and punishment based on previous action(karma)?
Please clarify my those confusion. Reply

Rona Leah Israel May 30, 2015

Regarding cremation. What do you think is the situation for the millions of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis and whose bodies were cremated, or the many martyrs in Jewish history who were burned alive? And how exactly does anyone know what happens with regard to the body/soul connection?

Also, there is the punishment of death by burning in the Torah, which we mention on Yom Kippur, what happens, or is thought to happen, then? Reply

Anonymous February 17, 2015

REINCARNATION? In reading so much knowledge, it can become overwhelming and confusing. Being a Christian we are told reincarnation doesn't exist but when you see the writings based on Judaic tradition it's hard to think there isn't. The powers that be on earth have made the truth so utterly confusing and contradictory it leaves the ones who want to be true of heart - heartbroken. It would be nice if somehow all the religious leaders of all faiths would come together and tell the truth or what is really known and shared it simply and honestly. I could believe so much more clearly if things weren't so confusing. It's nice to know that most of us believe the sky is blue. That is what is needed simplistic clarity for the sake of all souls. If I look inside something tells me that G-d is forgiving period and if we want forgiveness for all we have done wrong and ask and want understanding and truly put our hearts in His hands we will given both. I hope this is the ultimate reality. Reply

Yerachmiel Tilles Tzefat, Israel via December 11, 2014

To Doreet I don't agree that everyone in your situation would reject incarnation; many if not most would have a positive attitude and hope/pray that the next time would work out better.

However, you did hit on a little-understood Jewish truth: we have several stories in our tradition where newly deceased souls were allowed to communicate to their still alive spiritual mentors asn ask them whether they should choose reincarnation or Gehinom (a year in Purgatory). In each case they were advised Purgatory. One example can be found in the story "Yaakov the Innocent" in the book Saturday Night, Full Moon, or else online at Reply

Mike Letley U K November 12, 2014

reicarnation God is the god of nature reincarnation and reserection are in our children, which is nature. Reply

doreet Eugene OR October 22, 2014

A Sticky-Wicket: I am half-Jewish and half-gentile.Plus,I spent the majority of worship,in life,as a Jewish person,and observing laws,traditions, beliefs as a Jew. I don't especially WANT to ever be re-incarnated, this life was pretty bad,painful, horrible, and I intend to resist ever being re-incarnated. I would rather be a rock. I can't imagine all the millions of people who suffer in life,ever consenting to be reincarnated. I would not live it all again,for anything. For most humans on earth,life is HARD,and then you die.You think everyone with hard lives would not resist re-incarnation & more pain?Did I just name a huge sin,saying "NO" to God & His system? Reply

webmaster Tzefat, Israel via December 19, 2013

Reply to Tel Aviv It means that you should not think that because you were soulmates in a previous incarnation (if that is true), that does not mean that you have to marry in this life. The decision about whether to marry in this life. has to be based on your common goals in this life, not a previous one. Reply

Gersh Brooklyn NY November 26, 2013

Olam Ha-Ba for AfterLife and physical one Two of Them ? Why the spiritual afterlife is referred to in Hebrew as Olam Ha-Ba (oh-LAHM hah-BAH), the World to Come, although this term is also used to refer to the messianic phisical age.? Arba Turim said in comments for Beresith Tora beginning with letter Beith due to 2 Worlds were created Olam Ha-Ze and Olam Haba Reply

Sage of Ofisi Kukimbia Jua Big Rapids, MI via November 16, 2013

reencarnation How can I be sure of reincarnation? Sure I have had dreams and stuff, but nothing that would really give anything away.
Also, once asking God to recycle your soul, can you ask hime to plan out you fate for you or does he just put you on Earth and let life happen? Reply

Javi California November 6, 2013

Does the soul have a "characteristic/personality" or is it just alive? I ask because I assume that our characteristics and personality is a result of our memory/brain. Is it mentioned in the Kabbalah? Reply

Anonymous Tel aviv, Israel via November 4, 2013

Soulmate past life I met a few months ago a woman and we have an crazy attraction. We have been to the Kabbalah center and we did a search about our dates of birthday. This person who did the search said to us that we were soulmates in our past life but to go slowly because we could have a point of no return. What does that mean??? Reply

Elisheva Bloom January 15, 2013

past life connection I am a Gentile studying for conversion. Since I can remember I have always believed in a past life. I have always had this pull towards Egypt / middle east. culture, history, music etc. Could this possibly be why I feel this pull towards Judaism? Reply

Anonymous Albany, NY/USA August 28, 2012

Why can't God replace a cremated body? Why can't God make a new body for a soul whose most recent body was destroyed by cremation? Also, can a body be resurrected after it was eaten accidentally by animals? For instance — suppose a person is shipwrecked, dies in the ocean, and is eaten by a school of fishes. Then, some of these fishes are caught by various fishermen, and are eaten by the fishermen's customers in various parts of the world. How are such souls of multiply-eaten human beings now sorted into their proper bodies at the Resurrection? Reply

Anonymous November 9, 2009

QUESTION2: "In the Resurrection, would I arise from each body? Or, would some of my body (garments) just not rise?"

ANSWER2: The latter.;

i believe that this is incorrect, for i read that at resurrection,each body will arise in the part of the soul that they contributed during their life . Reply

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