G'mul - KARMA

Gilgulim - reincarnation



The Hell is the future abode of the wicked


It is evident that this Hell we are talking about is for an intermediate period between the death and the final imposition of some judgement. 


The first imprisonment of both the groups of people are as such not based on a judgement.  Yet we are told in Judaism that there are two containers one for the good and one for the evil ones.  What determines this separation is not based on a judgement before a judge. In Christianity it is based on faith in Jesus while one is alive.   How is this done in Judaism?


The answer hence leads us to a law active within the creation itself without the direct intervention of any God or any judge. It is decided by the universal law of Cause-Effect relationship.  This in fact is the foundation of Karma theory.  What determines your life even today on earth is based on your actions,- the Karma  which was evidently the first stand of Judaism also. What goes around, comes around.


You determine your life here and now;
and also the future;
before and after death also. 


This is essentially based on the principle of Freedom of will that is granted to all sons of God.  God does not predestine where you will be at any time.  He will graciously guide you, but he will never force it on you.  This is why God could not just forgive Adam and place him back in Eden.  This is why God cannot take an unrighteous man into heaven without his own permission..


Yearly Judgement - Rosh Hashanah - Books are opened.


Deuteronomy 11:12 states: “The eyes of God, your Lord, are upon [the land] from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” 


In Judaism however there is an going judgement in everyone's life.  This is done once a year on the first day of the year - on Rosh Hashanah  the Jewish New Year festival which commemorates the creation of the world. Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning the "beginning of the year". It lasts 2 days.  Rosh Hashanah is the yearly  judgement day, when Jews believe that God balances a person's good deeds over the last year against their bad deeds, and decides what the next year will be like for them. God records the judgement in the Book of Life, where he sets out who is going to live, who is going to die, who will have a good time and who will have a bad time during the next year. Three books are opened - The Book of Life, The Book of the Wicked, The Book of the In-between.


In Judaism it is called G’mul means “outcome”, “response”, “payment”, “recompense”.  Just as we receive our salaries for any work done, there is a payment for anything we do.  Just as the payment is not instantaneous but is given after an interval, the consequence of your work or karma is either paid in this life or in the life to come. But we will be paid.  This is a law built into the cosmic physical law system and is automatic.  Every thing is written down in akashic record - the spiritual book. Every action has its consequence - this is the absolute divine justice in action automatically.  This is the concept of the book of life. This is like any other physical law as gravity.  But then the ultimate cause effect is not based on individual actions but also on collective actions. We are part of a wider cosmos and we bear the result of what it is and what it is becoming.  One of the problems which I have always had with the personal salvation concept is that it is broken down to individual faith without the collective faith and collective actions.  Jesus takes up the church, not individuals.  Without the concept of G'mul it is not possible to justify a separation of the Sheol compartments into two - Hell and Abraham's bosom (or Paradise.)


But Judaism turns round also and says, "Not really all the time, God gives even when you are not worthy to receive - good for the bad things you do".  This introduces an additional factor beyond the law of cosmos - the Karma.  The idea at the back of it is "In the midst of the physical absolute laws, God has built in enough uncertainty so that God acts through history as love. In his love God overrides the Karma always to the good in his mercy. There is a period between when mercy can be obtained - days of purification - a purgatory period.

The books and the judgement are finally sealed only on Yom Kippur which falls after two days.  This is the law of Karma in action in Judaism.  This determines the next year for the person. You have ten days to compensate and do penitence and have mercy till Yom Kippur.


On Rosh Hashana,
God writes the fate of each person for the coming year
in the book of life

God waits for ten days until Yom Kippur
to seal this fate




Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” as the verse states, “For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God.”  On that day for nearly 26 hours we “afflict our souls” and keep a fast asking forgiveness for sins of the past year.


God wants everyone to come into His Kingdom and rejoice with the whole cosmos and its creation.
Hence even in the midst of wrathful judgement, there is a period and a provision for getting mercy and redemption. God is love and God is Our Father. 





All karma is boiled with love before it is served. The effect of Karma is a Fathers rod of correction. This is because our cosmos is not a closed system and is still and always will be connected to an infinite eternal power of a person. -God. This gives always another law beyond our law in a closed system. This closed system is open and connected to an infinite source also through a valve.



Thus the state of being within the state of "After Life world" is determined by the law of Karma - the automatic payment system a place of reward and punishment, as a state of being that we create by our concrete actions in this world


The only difference in the Sheol existence and after resurrection and judgement state is that  the resurrection gives a body back to the souls.  The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, Doomsday, or The Day of the Lord (Hebrew Yom Ha Din)  or in Arabic Yawm al-Qiyamah or Yawm ad-Din is part of the eschatological world view of the Abrahamic religions and in the Frashokereti of Zoroastrianism.


Here is the problem then, the later judgement after resurrection which Judaism proposes have no place.  If the judgement is automatically given soon after death why should there be a judgement after the fact? Olam Haba is [built by] the actions of the person, which he expanded and added and perfected into a place for himself to dwell….and so it is with the punishment of Gehenam, the sin itself is his punishment  it becomes the “space” that he will occupy during the time of his “reward”. 


It is here we see the place of Gilgulim - a possibility whereby, the ruling of the Karma court is possibly over ruled and a new verdict could be possible.


Unlike the Indian concept and even the Orthodox Jew concept, gilgulim simply is a new birth.  This is a change in the spiritual status like the concept Christian New Birth where there is no getting back into anew womb - as Jesus told Nicodemus.  It need not necessarily mean having a new material body - but having a new spiritual body. This concept actually was fully presented by Jesus even though it was in place as confession, repentance and penance long before.  It is this that is pesented in the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur days.


GILGULIM =  "You must be born again"  (John 3)


Alternatively God could have overturned some of these by his grace so that the Hell period was sufficient to pay for the sins and the paradise period was sufficient to pay for the good things some have done. At any rate both the paradise and the hell are a continuation of the life here and now.  Paradise is a time of returning home to the family and hell a journey away from the family of one's own choice state. 


Alternative is that Gehenna can repeat additional 11 months until the spirit is fully purged.  Then the judgement will be relevant to check the purification level.


Otherwise the Gehenna will become eternal hell for those who would not manage to be purified in 11 months.  But Judaism do permit repeat process purgation and even re-incarnation back to earth.


 It is interesting to note that the Dravids who are of the original tribes of Abraham (the original tribe of Keturah the second wife of Abraham and her children through Abraham later joined them in Mohen-Jodero and Harappa which is now in Pakistan.) were the first to develop the theory of Karma in their Upanishads.  The Aryan Vedas do not present Karma though probably they later borrowed it.


Brahmanas (commentaries on Vedas which are in Sanskrit and hence of recent origin)  postulated that rebirth in (a different) world would be for the ones who do good deeds, - the Pardadise or Heaven. Others die and perish into hell of Yama, unable to live again. Yama is the God of the Dead.  "yama" is again simply "time". It could thus mean lost in time - die out.  Thus this is equivalent to annihilation or continued life in the hell they created.  In the Aryan Vedic concept, after the death the various parts of the body and  life energy are recycled in other life forms like vegetation and lower forms of animals and insects on the earth. The souls cease to exist. The decayed bodies themselves serve as source of the growth of plants.


The reincarnation was central to the theology of Buddha and the ultimate aim of the humans would be to merge back into the Godhead from which they came - the ultimate theosis.





"The fact that reincarnation is part of Jewish tradition comes as a surprise to many people.   Nevertheless, it's mentioned in numerous places throughout the classical texts of Jewish mysticism, starting with the preeminent sourcebook of Kabbalah, the Zohar Only the orthodox Judaism believe in Gilgulim.  Reformed and Conservative Judaism do not accept it. In the Reformed Judaism there is only one reincarnation which is when Mesiah gives every soul or spirit its body and place him back into the world to continue life.  In contrast the Orthdox jews believe in an ongoing birth and death until total purification is done.



Belief of the Reformed Judaism is summarised by Rabbi Evan Moffic thus

l  There is an afterlife: Texts from every era in Jewish life identify a world where people go when they die. In the Bible it’s an underworld called Sheol. In the rabbinic tradition it’s known by a number of names, including the yeshiva shel mallah, the school on high. The Hebrew word for skies, shamayim, also came to refer to heaven.

l  Heaven has open door policy: Heaven is not a gated community. The righteous of any people and any faith have a place in it. Our actions, not our specific beliefs, determine our fate. No concept of Hell exists in Judaism. The closest we get is the fate of apostate (a person who renounces God, faith and morality in this world), who is said to be “cut off from his kin.”

l  The afterlife can take many forms: Professor A.J. Levine expresses this truth most eloquently, “Jewish beliefs in the afterlife are as diverse as Judaism itself, from the traditional view expecting the unity of flesh and spirit in a resurrected body, to the idea that we live on in our children and grandchildren, to a sense of heaven (perhaps with lox and bagels rather than harps and haloes).”

l  The afterlife is here on earth: One strand of Jewish thought sees heaven as a transitory place where souls reside after death. They reside there until they reunite with their physical bodies at the time when messiah comes. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach articulates this view in his early book, The Wolf Shall Lie with the Lamb. This approach differs from reincarnation since the return to life happens only in the messianic era, not as a regular occurrence, as in Hinduism.

l  We live on through others: The Reform Jewish prayerbook expresses this idea through the metaphor of a leaf and a tree. A leaf drops to the ground, but it nourishes the soil so more plants and trees spring up. The same is true in our lives. We nourish the future through the influence we have on those who follow us. It can happen in unimaginable ways."

By Rabbi Evan Moffic



Kabballistic Gilgulim

As long as a person is unsuccessful in his purpose in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, uproots him and replants him over and over again. (Zohar I 186b)


All souls are subject to reincarnation; and people do not know the ways of the Holy One, (blessed be He!) They do not know that they are brought before the tribunal both before they enter into this world and after they leave it; they are ignorant of the many reincarnations and secret works which they have to undergo, and of the number of naked souls, and how many naked spirits roam about in the other world without being able to enter within the veil of the King's Palace. Men do not know how the souls revolve like a stone that is thrown from a sling. But the time is at hand when these mysteries will be disclosed. (Zohar II 99b)


The idea is that life is a continuing process.  Even after death a resurrection brings you back and your life continues as an independent free-willed person, whether in hell or in paradise or in some other world.

The Zohar and related literature are filled with references to reincarnation, addressing such questions as which body is resurrected and what happens to those bodies that did not achieve final perfection, how many chances a soul is given to achieve completion through reincarnation,   whether a husband and wife can reincarnate together, if a delay in burial can affect reincarnation,  and if a soul can reincarnate into an animal. 


Zohar in a long passage called Saba d'Mishpatim expands the idea of reincarnation, or gilgul. It asserts that gilgul has two purposes:
a) to rectify sin
b) to acquire higher levels of soul.
Soul must be reincarnated either
because of sin or
because it failed to completely fulfill its obligations in Torah and mitzvot, or
to assist another person (such as a wife for her husband).
In extreme cases, a soul reincarnates solely to interact with one individual, a family, or community.


 Moses ben Nahman, (1194-1270)commonly known as Nachmanides, and also referred to by the acronym Ramban and by the contemporary nickname Bonastruc ça Porta, was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, Sephardic rabbi,


Isaac Luria Ashkenazi(1534 - 1572), commonly known in Jewish religious circles as "Ha'ARI", "Ha'ARI Hakadosh" [the gholy ARI] or "ARIZaL" [the ARI, Of Blessed Memory ], was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystics  


Reincarnation is cited by authoritative classic biblical commentators, including Ramban (Nachmanides), Menachem Recanti and Rabbenu Bachya.  Among the many volumes of the holy Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, known as the "Ari," most of which come down to us from the pen of his primary disciple, Rabbi Chaim Vital, are profound insights explaining issues related to reincarnation. Indeed, his Shaar HaGilgulim, "The Gates of Reincarnation," is a book devoted exclusively to the subject, including details regarding the soul-roots of many biblical personalities and who they reincarnated into from the times of the Bible down to the Ari.


One of the texts the mystics like to cite as a scriptural allusion to the principle of reincarnation is the following verse in the Book of Job:

Behold, all these things does God do
 -- twice, even three times with a man --
 to bring his soul back from the pit
that he may be enlightened with the light of the living.
(Job 33:29)

In other words, God will allow a person to come back to the world "of the living" from "the pit" (which is one of the classic biblical terms for Gehinnom or "Purgatory") a second and even third (or multitude of) time(s). Generally speaking, however, this verse and others are understood by mystics as mere allusions to the concept of reincarnation. The true authority for the concept is rooted in the tradition.




This is the same as the so-called doctrine of transmigration of Hinduism which teaches that the present life is but one of an indefinite series of existences which each individual soul is destined to pass through ; that death is only the termination of one, and the entrance upon another, of the series.


Further, it holds that all life is one in essence; that there is no fundamental difference between the vital principle of a human being, and that of any other living creature : so that, when a soul quits its tenement of flesh, it may find itself next imprisoned in the body of some inferior animal ; being, in fact, liable to make experience of all the various forms of life, in its progress toward the final consummation of its existence. The grade of each successive birth is regarded as determined by the sum of merit or demerit resulting from the actions of the lives already past: a life of exceeding folly and wickedness may condemn one to be born for myriads of years in the shape of abhorred and grovelling animals, or among the depraved, the ignorant, and the outcast among men ; on the other hand, it is possible to attain to such an exalted pitch of wisdom and virtue.







“For die we must,
like water flows on the ground and that cannot be gathered up again;
and God favors not a soul,
but He devises means that he that is banished be not cast away from Him”
(II Samuel 14:14).


Citing the closing phrase of this verse as an assurance that no one banished from God by his sins will remain banished, every soul will eventually return to God, her Father either in this incarnation or another.


This in fact is the only process that is acceptable in a relation between God and Man as Father and Sons. And this heaven is on earth with all having a glorified material body that is immortal.

This is the only reason why Adam was forced outside of the Eden to die, so that he can return to his Father fully as an adult bearing His Form as son.  This earthly life of Adam and his death was just one of the re-incarnation into a world where he will die. If this death put him in Gehenna will he need more expulsion ending in a second death and more? "that he who is banished is not cast away from Him"




It is from this concept the Roman Catholic Church developed the concept of Purgatory.  Without an intermediate Purgatorial process the placement of a judgement after the Sheolic state is meaningless.



"When a person dies, he is punished for all of his sins even before entering Purgatory. There are many types of punishment, all of which are called 'gilgulim', through which a person can reincarnate: into domaim [mineral], tzomai'och [vegetation], chai [inanimate], or into midabair [another person]. Just about everyone must undergo these gilgulim.


The reason is because a person cannot receive punishment until he exists physically in a body with a soul, at which time he can bear and feel pain and atone for his sins. The extent to which a person sins determines the type of gilgul he will have to undergo, either as something from the tzomai'och [domain], or as chai, etc.


Thus, even righteous people and Torah scholars can reincarnate in this manner for having committed sins in their lifetimes, after which time they will ascend to the level befitting them. The sin must be removed, for G‑d does not disregard [any of them], since He operates according to judgment. Even should the person be completely righteous, He will not accept any 'bribe' from him - even a mitzvah.


Also, when a person wants to ascend to a higher level he is sent back [to this world] and reincarnates in one of the manners mentioned above, if he still has a particular sin to purge."



Historical Background


First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC, several of the classical Israelite prophets (Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah) began forecasting a better future for their people. However, with repeated military defeats and episodes of exile and dislocation culminating in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Jewish thinkers began to lose hope in any immediate change, instead investing greater expectations in a messianic future and in life after death.

This was coupled with the introduction into Judaism of Hellenistic notions of the division of the material, perishable body and the spiritual, eternal soul.


The catastrophe of 70 CE caused a theological crisis. How could it be that the God of Israel would simply allow His sanctuary to be destroyed and His people to be vanquished at the hands of the Roman Empire? While the rabbis often claimed that it was the Israelites’ sinfulness that led God to allow it to be defeated (mi–p’nei hataeinu, “because of our sins”), it was more difficult to explain why good and decent individual Jews were made to suffer.


This led to the development of another theological claim.
Rabbi Ya’akov taught:
This world is compared to an ante-chamber that leads to Olam Ha–Ba, (the World-to-Come)” (Pirkei Avot 4:21). That is, while a righteous person might suffer in this lifetime, he or she will certainly be rewarded in the next world, and that reward will be much greater."


    In fact, in some cases, the rabbis claim that the righteous are made to suffer in this world so that their reward will be much greater in the next (Leviticus Rabbah 27:1). These type of thinking is    the foundation of the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. 



So we see a spectrum of meaning in the designation sheol:
A place where all the dead go
A place where the good and bad people are kept separate.
No torment or torment both are possible.
Are the wicked annihilated?
We cannot really make any sure assertion.
Is this a place of purification place- a Purgatory?
Is it a place from where Re-incarnation, transmigration take place?
how is this accomplished?
Another chance, another life or just repentance?
There are versus to support all the above.





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