Monday, December 20, 2010

Reincarnation and Natsari Judaiam Part II

The main reason for reincarnation is for the soul to fulfill its role in the creation and achieve the spiritual level for which it is destined. If a soul does not manage this in its first life, it may be given another chance, and another. If the soul did not succeed in three times, it will have to settle for whatever it has gained in the everlasting afterlife. Another reason for reincarnation is to repay a soul for its deeds in a way parallel to its sins; for example, a rich miser might be reincarnated as a poor beggar and be disregarded by a rich man, who was himself one of the paupers disregarded by the rich miser in his previous life.”
If reincarnation is real and we keep coming back to work on fixing our souls and if we cannot remember our past lives, how can we know what to work on in this one? The Kabbalists say that the improvements carry over in to the next incarnation and the flaws that need to be worked on become readily apparent; you do not loose the improvements made in the previous life, you build upon them.
Let us look at a few passages in the Bible that are said to refer to the Jewish version of reincarnation.
Job 33:29 “Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.”
I believe this simply means that in this life we have “close calls” or sticky situations in which G-d allows us learn from and be refined and enlightened by, but I seriously doubt this refers to reincarnation, because in other parts of Job it talks about the afterlife, the world to come and the resurrection.
Exodus 34:7 “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

This verse is simply alluding to the blessings of keeping Torah and raising ones family in Torah and the negative repercussions, consequences and or curses of not keeping Torah or teaching your prodigy to keep it.
Deuteronomy 3:26 But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. The “root in the verb form regarding Moses. The root (spelled, Ayin, bet, resh) can mean a number of different things, and this is usually translated as God being angry with Moses because of the people’s behavior. However, if the verb is translated as referring to “transmigration” instead of “being angry” it may be read as “YHVH will cause me to transmigrate for your sake.”  In fact, some Kabbalists believe that the soul of Moses is reincarnated every generation to help the people endure their exile from the Holy Land.” – The Everything Kabbalah Book
Okay, this is really grasping at straws and twisting the context of the passage in question. This would have Moses either using the excuse “the devil made me do it,” saying the peoples poor behavior is making him act in away that will cause him to be reincarnated instead of entering eternal rest, or that G-d’s anger is the root and reason for G-d making humans transmigrate in order to purify our souls, which supposedly the doctrine of transmigration is one of love and forgiveness, one of second changes motivated by love, not anger.
I do believe that some souls are kindred spirits, cut from the same cloth if you will thus there is a Moses in every generation and John the Baptist came in the “spirit” of the Prophet Elijah, not that John was a reincarnation of Elijah. 
Deuteronomy 25:5-10 regarding the commands governing the Levirate marriage is said to allude to reincarnation. One Rabbi at said, “Perhaps the closest scriptural hint to this idea is Deuteronomy 25:5-10 which says that "when brothers are on the earth at the same time, and one of them dies childless, the wife of the dead brother must not marry a man outside the family. [Rather] her brother-in-law shall come to her and perform levirate marriage with her. And he shall be the first-born whom she bears; he shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, and so the name of the dead brother shall not be erased from the people of Israel... But if he refuses to marry his sister-in-law... she shall remove his shoe... His name shall be called in Israel: 'The house of him whose shoe was removed'."
 “Transmigration gave a new meaning to many aspects of life.…The deaths of young children were less tragic, since they were being punished for previous sins and would be reborn in a new life…” Alan Unterman, Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend
Ramban, one of the greatest commentators on the Torah (and on the Talmud), and a seminal figure in Jewish history, hints several times that reincarnation is the key to penetrating the deep mysteries involved in the mitzvah of yibum (the obligation of the brother of a childless, deceased man to marry the widow). In his explanation of Gen 38:8, he insists that Yehudah and his sons were aware of the secret of reincarnation, and that this was a major factor in their respective attitudes towards Tamar.” --
I believe that the law of the levirate marriage was simply to keep the name and inheritance of the dead brother alive as well as to provide security to his widow. And the sin of Judah’s sons was that they wanted to absorb the dead brother’s inheritance and did not want to be burdened with a wife and a child that would not be considered his. There was also the suspicious fear that Tamar was cursed and they simply didn’t want to die.

And so what if there still mystery and unexplained things regarding the mitzvot, you are talking about a finite creation trying to fully comprehend the Commands of an Infinite G-d. Let it be a mystery, that is partly what faith is all about, if it really important we will know it in full on the other side.

“Reincarnation, gilgul in Hebrew, is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, though some interpret traditional Jewish practices to refer to reincarnation. Maimonides has written about the allusion of biblical verses to its occurrence. For example, Daniel 12:13 states, "now go your way to the end and rest, and you shall arise to your destiny at the end of days." A second example can be found in the concept of yibum, when a married man dies childless, tradition holds that his spouse should marry the man’s brother and their first-born should receive the dead father’s name.” --

This passage in Daniel speaks of the resurrection and the destiny of a righteous person inheriting the World to Come rather than reincarnation.

Many passages in Ecclesiastes have been used in an effort to support the doctrine of reincarnation.

Ecclesiastes 1:4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

These two have been cited by some to purpose the belief in reincarnation; again, it is a stretch. The first just speaks of the finite and transitory nature of human life while the rest of the world at large continues on and the second clearly speaks about ideas, not souls.

It does seem clear to me that Pharisaical Judaism of Yeshua’s day and early Christianity held to the belief of some sort of reincarnation. It was beyond doubt taught in the early days of the cult, for it was well known to the Jews who produced the men who founded Christianity. The greatest of all the Fathers of the Church; Origen, who believed in the doctrine. He taught pre-existence and the wandering of the soul. This could hardly have been believed without also giving currency to reincarnation, as the soul could scarcely wander in any place save the earth.

Let us examine a few passages in the Brit Chadasha that some say speak of reincarnation.

Matthew 16:13-14: "Having come to the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples:" Whom say the people out there who is the Son of man? "They said:" Some say John the Baptist, others who Elijah, others short, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

Yeshua first asked His Talmidim who the people, the public, has said they believed He was and they answered as we read in the above passage which hints that the people did seem to have a belief in reincarnation. Then, if we read on in verses 15-17 He asks His talmidim who do they think He is and Kefa (Peter) says. “Messiah!”  By they way the Talmidim of Yeshua answered His question it seems clear that the people thought that Yeshua might be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets because they believed that someone who was dead could come back as another person (reincarnation). However, the uneducated Jewish populace had no idea how this could happen. This passage shows us that at the time of Yeshua that the idea of reincarnation was fairly common and it bleed over into early Christian belief because it was officially banned by the Church in 553 AD at the Council of Constantinople.

Mat 14:1-2 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

Herod rubbed shoulders with the Pharisees who believed not only in the resurrection of the dead (as opposed to the Sadducees who did not) but in the transmigration of souls as well. Herod also half Jewish himself and would have gotten the concept of reincarnation from the Pharisees and applying it to the Jewish John the Baptist because of the Pharisaical belief in this doctrine.

Luke 1:17   And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

The Angel spoke this to John the Baptists Father Zechariah, and he was not saying John was Elijah reincarnated but was like or similar to Elijah in spirit and power. If John was Elijah reincarnated how then could Elijah stand with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration?

Like Harriet Tubman who lead the Underground Railroad to free enslaved blacks was called the “Moses of her people.” No one meant by this that she was Moses reincarnated, but was like Moses in her actions and power.

Some people say their child is “the spitting image of Uncle or Grandpa “So-and-so” and they mean they he looks or has a personality like their relative, which speaks of genetics, not reincarnation.

Matt.17:10-13 The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. 

Here people fail to see the figurative speech and decide to wrongly interpret this passage in the literal and thus use it to support the belief in reincarnation. This can only be speaking of Elijah in the figurative sense and not the literal, because was we have seen, the foundation of all Scripture, the Torah is absolutely silent on the matter of reincarnation and therefore this passage can only be take figuratively.

What about Yeshua saying in John 3 that one must be “born again”? Again context, context, context, Yeshua is not speaking that Nicodemus had to be reincarnated to be for in verse 6 He says that being born of flesh (Nefesh/Soul/Blood) is different than being born of the Ruach (spirit) and in verse 8 He said that Nicodemus must be re-born in the Ruach (Spirit), not the Nefesh (Soul), which it is the Nefesh that returns again and again and not the Ruach or Neshamah aspect of man. Thus Yeshua was calling Nicodemus to a spiritual awakening in Torah and to see that He, the Moshiach is the Living Manifestation of that Torah. Yeshua is not teaching or advocating reincarnation.

Most Natsari scholars believe Rav Sha’ul (Paul) wrote Hebrews and was a bit of a Kabbalist himself and some speculate that this passage hints of reincarnation.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Meaning the body dies once and the soul is sent to be judged and sent back again in another body, but if we look at this verse in context, the passages before and after do not allude to, or hint of reincarnation, but of death, resurrection and the Day of Atonement and Messiah’s atoning work on the cross.

The Brit Chadasha (New Testament) itself, regarding the doctrine taught by Yeshua Himself nor the other writers of the Brit Chadasha advocate or purpose the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, but rather they clearly only support and teach the resurrection of the dead.

Seeing as The Torah and Talmud are silent on the subject of Reincarnation that the doctrine seeped into Judaism from the exiles and captivities of the Jewish people in Babylon and Assyria and eventually made it’s way into Jewish Spiritualism and Mysticism. Again, which we need not throw the baby out with the bathwater but filter it through Torah and eat the meat and spit out the bones. 

Up till now I have only spoke on the Jewish concept of Reincarnation also known as the “Transmigration of Souls” or in the Hebrew “Gilgul;” but what of Ibbur and Dybbuk?

Remember there are three concepts to reincarnation in Judaism:

1.      Gilgul, transmigration proper, meaning to roll, to cycle or revolve, in which a soul that had previously inhabited one body is sent back to earth to inhabit another body.
2.      Ibbur, meaning, “impregnation” or “transferring” in which a soul descends from heaven in order to assist another soul in the body.
3.      Dybbuk, a generally late concept, often mistaken as a Jewish version of a demon but rather is said to be a guilt‑laden soul pursued by demons who enters a human body for protection or in order to find rest and has to be exorcised.

We have already discussed Gilgul, let us now turn our attention to Ibbur and Dybbuk.

Regarding Ibbur, I do believe that G-d does allow a person to return to earth from the realm of the heavenly afterlife to assist others. To fully understand my meaning we must discuss what the Torah and Judaism believes about ghosts or spirits.

When I was a Christian things were very black and white for me. I use to think when people encountered spirits or “ghosts” it was either angels or demons. Period. Amazingly, when I began to practice Judaism I discovered Jewish Traditions seems to back up much of that view up.

Unknown to many readers of the Brit Chadasha, this passage reveals a long held Jewish believe about the death in Acts 12:1-16.

The people prayed form Kefa’s (Peter’s) release, I suppose they kind of prayed with a lack of faith for when their prayers were answered and Kefa shows up at the door Rhoda thinks that who is standing before her is not Kefa’s “ghost” but his angel (v.15). Hmmmm, how queer. Have your ever noticed that before? Well, according to Jewish belief, we are signed two angels, one is a tov (good) angel, the other a rah (bad) or fallen angel. Both work in conjunction with the Yetzar Tov and the Yetzer Hara (the Good Inclination and the Bad Inclination). It is believed that our angels take on our appearance and upon death they may appear to people looking like us. Tradition instructs us to call out are you Tov or Rah (Good or Bad)? This is to determine if this is the good or bad angel. Because at death the soul either went to Sheol to the compartment of Abraham’s Bosom, if we were righteous or to the compartment of Gehenna, a place of fire and torment (Luke 16:19-31).

If this is more than a Jewish tradition or legend, this would explain much paranormal phenomenon such as certain episodes of ghosts, deja vu, evil twins and sightings of doppelgangers.  This would also explain deceased loved ones appearing in dreams and relaying messages as long as they are not in conflict with Torah, if so then it must be the demon that was assigned to us who also can take on our appearance.

The following are the Torah’s prohibitions of seeking out and contacting the dead:

·  Not to consult ovoth (familiar spirits/ghosts) (Lev. 19:31a).
·  Not to enquire of an ov (familiar spirit/ghost) (Deut. 18:11).
·  Not to seek the maytim (one who contacts or consults the dead/necromancer) (Deut. 18:11).

Lev. 19:31a Regard not them that have familiar spirits…

Deut. 18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

“Familiar spirit” in the Hebrew is “ov.” “ovoth” is the plural form and it means in the context of this verse one who is a necromancer, who conjures up ghosts, the spirits of the dead or has a spirit of divination. In the modern day we may call such a person a “medium” a “psychic” or that they have a “spirit guide.”

Interestingly enough the word “ov” is a Hebraic homonym which I believe alludes to the word we are investigating. The homonym means, and animal skin, such as a container, a wine skin for instance. In other words, something that is hollow that can be filled or occupied by something else. Hinting of being temporarily possessed by and or channeling spirits of demons or the dead. Isn’t it interesting that alcoholic wine is sometimes referred to as a spirit? says this about the word:

“Such a person was called by the Hebrews an 'ob, which properly means a leathern bottle; for sorcerers were regarded as vessels containing the inspiring demon. This Hebrew word was equivalent to the pytho of the Greeks, and was used to denote both the person and the spirit which possessed him.”

The word “ov” or “ovoth” is similar to “av” or “avot” meaning “father” or “fathers” and thus the word “ov” or “ovoth” and thus gives us further insight that a familiar spirit can also mean contacting a dead ancestor or loved one.

Some have said that “ov” means to call up a spirit that imitates the dead one wishes to contact, such a fallen angel, a demon as I spoke about above which is according to Jewish Tradition and the Brit Chadasha (New Testament).

These prohibitions in Torah causes us to question Kings Saul asking the witch of Endor to call up the dead Prophet Samuel. Did she actually conjure up Samuel or was it a demon pretending to be Samuel?

We find this in I Samuel 28:7-20.

In verses 3-7 we see Saul bans witches and their craft from the land as is prohibited by Torah. He finds himself without the Holy Spirit and thus with out divine direction and he feels his only recourse is to consult a witch who can conjure up some one who can give him divine direction, the Prophet Samuel. But did she conjure up Samuel or a demonic imposter? Let us find out.

The Stone’s Edition of the Tanak says,

“Just as God gave great powers to the forces of holiness, as in plain from the exploits of the patriarchs and prophets, so He gave great powers to the forces of the profanity.  This was in order to create tests of faith, so that people could choose between good and evil. Now, in his desperation for counsel Saul restored to this forbidden devise to call upon the spirit of Samuel.”

Having said all the above I believe evidence is clear that this witch of Endor was expecting a demonic impostor appearing as Samuel and was utterly shocked when it was actually Samuel himself that appeared. It was then the witch knew that this was not her doing.

This is how the Legends of the Bible relays the story:

“In necromancy the peculiar rule holds that, unless it is summoned by a king , a spirit raised from the dead appears head downward and feet in the air. Accordingly, when the figure Samuel stood upright before them, the witch saw Samuel, she could not hear what he said, while Saul heard his words, but could not see his person – another peculiar phenomenon in necromancy: the conjuror sees the spirit, and he for whom the spirit has been raised only hears it. Any other person present neither sees nor hears it…

Samuel was appareled in the “upper garment” his mother had made for him when she surrendered him to the sanctuary. This he had worn throughout his life, and in it was he was buried, at the resurrection all the dead wear their grave-clothes, and so it came about that Samuel stood before Saul in his well known “upper garment.””

By the account in Legends it seems to be that Saul knew enough about the dark arts to know that witches usually conjured up demons who impersonated deceased humans and he wanted to be sure she indeed conjured up Samuel.

Legends of the Bible also says:

“…a number of spirits arise by the side by the side of Samuel… Moses…”