What are Gilgulim all about? (Part 2)

Updated: Sep 8



In the previous article we talked a little about the basics of Gilgulim (reincarnations) and here we continue with some more fascinating ideas.

​The Zohar teaches us that there are 4 kingdoms or categories of life form. The most rudimentary one is the the Domem (silent) which consists of the inanimate matter of the world such as rocks, minerals, metals and water. Following it we have the Tzomeach (sprouts) in which all the trees and vegetables are included. Then we have all the animals (“Chai”, or “living beings”) and finally the humans (“medaber”, “speaking creatures”).

​As one can imagine, there’s a progression in the kingdoms whereby the Domem is the lowest one and the Medaber is the highest. We all have middot (character traits) that we need to fix, and Rabbi Chaim Vital writes in Sha’arei Kedusha (Gates of Holines) that they are created from the 4 foundational elements of creation mentioned in the Zohar: Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. Note that these elements are the spiritual counterpart of what we know physically to be Earth, Water, Fire and Wind.

A person who is angry or haughty has a problem with the Fire element within himself, which manifests itself as these traits. One whoenjoys speaking idle words needs to rectify the Wind element. The Water element manifests itself as the love for physical pleasures and,finally, the unrectified Earth element causes people to be lazy and sad. All of them are fallen Middot, which require work to be fixed.

But, more than that, each of the elements also corresponds to the 4 Kingdoms and the 4 letters of the Holy Name of Hashem and the 4 spirituals worlds as we see in the table below:





​So, when a person rectifies his Middot he is in fact also rectifying all the elements of the row corresponding to it as every aspect of Creation is connected to each other. And, as one would have it, every aspect of Creation fell from its pristine state with the sin of Adam HaRishon.

​It often happens that a person doesn’t finish this work in his lifetime. In this case, he has to come back to rectify precisely the Middah that he left. This is 100% Hashem’s mercy and compassion, because it means we can actually come back many times to complete our work. Nevertheless, reincarnation is a very painful experience because a person can very well come back and cause more damage than good.

​Someone who didn’t fix a Middah which is related to the mineral kingdom can have a part of his soul reincarnate in a rock. If he didn’t rectify something related to the vegetable kingdom, he might come back as a vegetable, and so on.

Then, in order to be rectified, he needs someone to do a Mitzvah or a blessing in the prescribed manner with that object the soul is in. For example, if he’s reincarnated in an almond, someone needs to pick that almond, make a blessing and eat it. The same goes for someone reincarnated in a vegetable. This poses many difficulties because it might be that someone is reincarnated in something that has little to no use in Jewish Law. For example, who comes back as a dog might need to wait until a tanner takes its droppings to make the parchment of a Tfillin or Torah Scroll. Or the dog might need to die in order to rectify the person. Either way, nothing is as painful to the Jewish soul as being reincarnated in an impure animal.

Once a level is rectified (like vegetable), he goes on to the next level (animal), until he gets to the level of a human being and then his Tikkun is finished. Nevertheless, as we said before, one shouldn’t “count” on being able to come back as a reincarnated person.

Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote a shocking book called Sefer HaChezionot (the Book of Visions)which is sort of an autobiography that includes many of the wondrous events he saw with the Arizal.

He writes that once he dreamed of a Rabbi who recently passed away. The man was lying in bed suffering and with his kidney opened up, full of worms crawling. In a sad voice, he begged “please rectify me, Rabbi”. Rabbi Chaim Vital asked “how am I going to do that?”. The manreplied that he would come to him soon.

As it turned out, while Rabbi Chaim Vital was studying with his students in his Beit Midrash, a goat came and put its paws on the shtender in front of him. His eyes were filled with tears as it whined painfully. Rabbi Chaim Vital went out to buy the goat from the local arabs and told his students he was doing a Siyum (Tractate completion) on Tractate Chagigah. It was also Chanukkah, which added to the holiness of the day and enhanced the Mitzvah to eat meat. “Make sure to take out all the worms from its liver and clean it properly”, he ordered. The students were wondering how their master knew the goat had worms in the liver but were amazed to find out how many infested it! That night the rabbi came in a dream and thanked him profusely for the rectification.


(side note to women: My understanding is that men still need to rectify their Tikkun, but women have already completed it from the time of the Arizal so we are here mostly for men’s sake.

I heard froma friend that the Ohr HaChaim said most of the men are in Gehenom, while most of the women go straight to Gan Eden.

The truth is everyone passes by Gehinom and Gan Eden, the problem is knowing whether they stay there. A righteous that sees Gehinom will enjoy Gan Eden much more, and a Rasha which sees Gan Eden will suffer much more. Wnowing what they “could’ve gotten” will make them enjoy or suffer much more.)

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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