μετεμψύχωσις - metempsychosis

εμπψχωύν - empsykhoun

παλιγγενεσία - palingenesia

גלגול הנשמות - gilgul neshamot

पुनर्जन्मन् - punarjanman

Reincarnation belief first existed among Jewish mystics in the Ancient World, among whom differing explanation given of the after-life, although with a universal belief in an immortal soul. Today, reincarnation is an esoteric belief within many streams of modern Judaism. Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) teaches a belief in gilgul, transmigration of souls, and hence the belief in reincarnation is universal in Hasidic Judaism, which regards the Kabbalah as sacred and authoritative, and is also held as an esoteric belief within Modern Orthodox Judaism [1].

In Judaism, the Zohar, first published in the 13th century, discusses reincarnation at length, especially in the Torah portion "Balak." The most comprehensive kabbalistic work on reincarnation, Shaar HaGilgulim, was written by Chaim Vital based on the teachings of his mentor, the 16th century kabbalist Isaac Luria, who was said to know the past lives of each person through his semi-prophetic abilities. The 18th century Lithuanian master scholar and kabbalist, Rabbi Elijah, known as the Vilna Gaon (Elijah of Vilna), authored a commentary on the biblical Book of Jonah as an allegory of reincarnation [1].


The practice of conversion to Judaism is sometimes understood within Orthodox Judaism in terms of reincarnation. According to this school of thought in Judaism, when non-Jews are drawn to Judaism, it is because they had been Jews in a former life. Such souls may "wander among nations" through multiple lives, until they find their way back to Judaism, including through finding themselves born in a gentile family with a "lost" Jewish ancestor. There is an extensive literature of Jewish folk and traditional stories that refer to reincarnation.

Gilgul, Gilgul neshamot, or Gilgulei Ha Neshamot (גלגול הנשמות). In Hebrew, the word gilgul means "cycle" or "wheel" and neshamot is the plural for "souls." Souls are seen to "cycle" through "lives" or "incarnations", being attached to different human bodies over time. Which body they associate with depends on their particular task in the physical world, spiritual levels of the bodies of predecessors and so on. The concept relates to the wider processes of history in Kabbalah, involving Cosmic Tikkun (Messianic rectification), and the historical dynamic of ascending Lights and descending vessels from generation to generation [6] [12]:

  • ​​Dead Sea Scrolls, I IQ Melchizedek Text, The Last Jubilee: The term Zion denotes the total congregation of the 'sons of righteousness' that is, those who maintain the covenant and turn away from the popular trend, and your God signifying the King of Righteousness, alias Melchizedek redivivus (reincarnated), who will destroy Belial [9]

  • Essenes: sect of Second Temple Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests. Believed soul is immortal and preexistent. Josephus records that the Essenes of the Dead Sea Scrolls lived "the same kind of life" as the followers of Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher who taught reincarnation. According to Josephus, the Essenes believed that the soul is both immortal and preexistent, necessary for tenets for belief in reincarnation [10] [18]

  • Hebrew tav: The Hebrew letter tav is the last letter of the alphabet, the secret of ‘returning Light from above’ back to alef forming the word ‘ta’ or ‘cell.’ Tav means reincarnation, the stamp of previous lives, and life’s continuity by coming full circle back to alef. Tav is rest’s hallmark and the fountain of life for those who aspire to attain mastery in serving the light. And how many Hebrew words contain the letter tav, implying reincarnation? [3] [4]

  • Hebrew gimmelgimmel spells yet another reference to re-embodiment. It affirms that souls master works of charity and loving sacrifice by alternating between divine and physical abodes and applying lessons learned. Gimmel inspires benign giving and yearning for His Majesty’s mandates, exemplifying third commandment directives. Likewise, how many words contain gimmel? [3] [4]

  • Kabbalah: (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, literally "parallel/corresponding," or "received tradition"), esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism is called a Mekubbal (מְקוּבָּל‎). Kabbalah originally developed within the realm of Jewish tradition, and kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances [3] [7] [8]

  • Mishnah and Talmud: Indirectly mentioned in these writings, the Doctrine of Resurrection of the Dead is mentioned in the Mishna (c.170 CE). The Talmud intimidates resurrection, though reincarnation is at its core as a phenomenon of the soul by the nature of gilgul neshamot. Obviously, it is not the body that reincarnates from one lifetime to another, as is proven by gilgul, a time of sowing rather than reaping [6] [11] [19]

  • Torah: Reincarnation is explained in the sections of the Esser Debrot that the HaShem is Long Suffering and will visit the sins of the father on to the children up to 3 or 4 generations. Given it is written in a multi-dimensionally interpreted language, one must know and compare the meaning of each word to relate and understand hidden meanings, such as teyva, the boat Noah built and the raft upon which Moses hid as a child, indicating a reincarnation connection between Noah and Moses [7]

  • Yiddish, Ashkenazi: Previous Kabbalistic themes, accepted without emphasis in Hasidism, entered Eastern European Jewish folklore in tales of reincarnation and possession, and were commonly adapted by later secular Yiddish writers. Meanwhile, the mysticism of Hasidism as well as the culture of wider traditional Judaism, were parodied by Haskalah Yiddish literature [20]

  • Zohar: The Zohar explains that the words generation and children are referring to reincarnation. The children is a reincarnation while a generation is relating to the different levels of soul. The Zohar explains that reincarnation is an aspect of God's Loving Kindness. By sending a soul back to another body and allowing it the time and space to change itself the soul achieves its Tikune [7]




4.   H. Y. Ginsburgh, "Tav: Impression - The Seal of Creation," [Online]. Available:








12. Sefer HaGilgulim, "The Book of Reincarnations," by Chaim Vital

25. "Afterlife! A religious, philosophy, psychological perspective," Henry Epps. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 17 2012)