Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Past Life Sins

Art: K. Madison-Moore

In his commentary on the Book of Yonah, the Vilna Gaon writes 

“The main thing [to keep in mind is that the purpose of reincarnation] is to effect the repair of a [negative] influence originating in a previous lifetime... [One way] to discern exactly what that negative influence is is to reflect upon the type of wrong your soul yearns after the most in this lifetime. That which you yearn after most is likely something you became habituated to in a previous life. And therefore pay attention to your vices. [They tell you exactly what you have to work on in this lifetime.] ...The main thing is to repair that which one stumbled in in a previous [life] ... How can one know what one stumbled in during a previous life? ... [Pay attention] to that particular sin one’s soul longs for greatly (for it was emblazened into the soul as a habit in the previous life). That’s why some people are drawn after one type of sin more than another. And that’s also why our Sages say that one must continually judge himself and weigh his actions..."

Note the subtle difference here between culpability and character improvement [tikkun]. Consider yourself not responsible for any sins you may or may not have done in a previous life, if you even had one (and/or know about it). Nevertheless, since in principle, at least, a previous life may be impacting on your present life circumstance, pay attention to your vices. Rather than limiting your free will, this information can, in theory, help it. For instance, you may feel you have no chance to overcome your lust for cheeseburgers. You may tell yourself you were born with this lust. It’s genetic. You feel you have no free will to oppose it. Every time you pass a McDonald’s you have to go in there and order a Big Mac.

However, if you take the Vilna Gaon’s teaching to heart, you may then come to realize that, although you are not now responsible for the sin of eating cheeseburgers in a previous life, you have this great lust as an opportunity for tikkun. Had it been just a regular lust for cheeseburgers your overcoming it may not be metaken (fix) the original weakness emblazoned into your soul. You don’t want this weakness when you are given your place in Eternity. So you were sent back here for the opportunity of eliminating the weakness; indeed, turning it into a strength. Overcoming this extra-powerful lust in this world turns your soul into a “body-builder’s” soul; perhaps even a “Mr. Universe” soul. It’s now stronger than it ever was. In any event, the point is that knowledge or even intuition about a past life can be a powerful aid to free will in this life.

Granted, it can theoretically create the opposite effect. A person may think, for example: What the heck; I’ll get it right in the next life. Or: If I didn’t get it right in the past what’s the point in trying in this life etc. The latter fear is the reason I believe the doctrine was restricted to Kabbalah, which ideally is reserved for select individuals of a higher spiritual standing to begin with.

Source: Jewish Soul Searching [unfortunately that site no longer exists]


Neshama said...

Must say how interesting your selection of picture; as usual.
Yes, this is what Rabbi Mizrachi speaks about often in his shiurim. Important to consider when wanting to do teshuva.

annie said...

Is a reincarnation always someone from Torah? Are all souls alive now... from Torah all the way back to Adam only? Then, would you examine your failings compared to those of Torah to learn of what part you play in that person's life from the past? Does this also occur with gentiles? Is the Tanach also considered in this?

Is it possible that everyone in the world has a tikkun to do concerning Adam and Eve with their two children? Does it all go back to the Original family... each one of us trying to repair what was done in the beginning... and when we all do our repair does this have something to do of when the Moshiach will come???? Maybe way out questions... i apologize for that... just trying to understand... Thank you for the article... very good to learn ... *:-)

Devorah said...

Reincarnation [gilgulim] - we are all reincarnations, we have all lived before. It is taught that the generation before the Moshiach are the same souls as the generation who received the Torah on Mt Sinai. Gentiles are also reincarnated.
The famous Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, wrote the famous Sefer about Gate of Reincarnations [Shaar HaGilgulim]
. As it is Kabbalah, it may be difficult to understand some concepts.
We are not generally reincarnations of anyone specifically mentioned in the Torah, although your own name may give you an indication of some of your potential.
Everyone has a tikkun to do, their own personal tikkun, and for everyone that will be a unique mission.
It is said that when all the souls in the treasury of souls have been born, Moshiach will come.

drunkenswamihead said...

Have you thought of reincarnation from a DNA PERSPECTIVE? Take a look at article about how holocaust trauma effected DNA of children