By Dr. Bernie Kastner
This is a big topic and I will only succinctly scratch the surface in this article. I delve into this in detail in my upcoming book Back to the Afterlife, which is scheduled for release in the Spring of 2013.
Common questions raised here include: (a) If a person incarnates a number of times into different bodies, in which body does the neshamah reside at the resurrection? (b) When we reincarnate, does the entire neshamah return to this world or does only a piece of it come back?
Neshamos have the ability to divide their essence. All neshamos that come to Earth leave a part of their energy behind in the spirit world. So if someone you loved died 30 years before you and has since reincarnated, you can see him again upon your arrival at the homecoming reception, the stage where a neshamah is officially greeted in the next world.
The percentages of energy that neshamos leave behind vary–most take only 5 to 10 percent with them to Earth; otherwise it would blow the circuits of the brain. Dr. Michael Newton, in his book Destiny of Souls, says, “Having all the soul’s energy capacity in one body would negate the whole process of growth for the soul on Earth because it would have no challenge coping with the brain.”
He goes on to say that full awareness would have another adverse effect. We would experience a higher level of spiritual memory retention in each human body. “Amnesia forces us to go into the testing area of the laboratory of Earth without the answers for the tasks we were sent here to accomplish. Amnesia also relieves us of the baggage of past failures so we may use new approaches with more confidence.”
While a neshamah can split itself up, our personal guide does not recommend splitting up simultaneously in each respective incarnation. In other words, if we have two major tasks to work on, it is best to take a piece of the neshamah that needs to do a particular tikkun, and stick with that one objective over the course of that lifetime. A neshamah can, however, choose to go into two different bodies in order to accelerate the process of tikkun. While this is technically possible, it is not easy to accomplish. The neshamah has diminished energy in each of the bodies and may not withstand the earthly pressures it will face. Therefore, our guides do not enthusiastically recommend it.
There is an interesting machlokes between the commentary of the Sulam and that of the Matok MiDvash regarding which body arises in the Resurrection. The Sulam on Tehillim 1:3 (“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water . . .”) writes that the neshamah returns at Techiyas HaMeisim into the last body it had because this is the one in which it completed the process of its tikkun. He further emphasizes that the first body davka does not arise. Rabbi Yosi agrees with this opinion.
This is in contrast to the peirush of the Matok MiDvash on the Zohar in parashas Pinchas (folio 213) in which he states that in one’s first gilgul a person who toiled in the study of Torah and in the performance of mitzvos basically covered all of the requirements toward fulfilling his tikkun and that only a small piece remained when he left this world. Therefore at Techiyas HaMeisim his neshamah will rise with its first body because, after all, his second body was only “on loan” in order to merely finish up a small portion of the larger tikkun.
It could be added that if a person did not perform mitzvos in his first body and did succeed in a later body, then it may very well be that that is the body the neshamah will gravitate to in Techiyas HaMeisim, according to the Matok MiDvash.
So by whose opinion do we hold? HaRav Yehuda Serevnik, rosh kollel of Tiferet Beit David in Mevasseret (just outside of Yerushalayim), explains that since the Matok MiDvash’s commentaries are based on the works of generations of mekubalim that preceded him, rather than introducing chiddushim based on his own personal view of the matter (as did the Sulam), we then follow the explanation of the Matok MiDvash. v
Dr. Bernie Kastner, a psychotherapist in private practice with offices in Jerusalem, just released his latest sefer, entitled “HaOlam She’acharei,” published by Dani Sefarim in Hebrew. It is available in major bookstore chains in Israel. He is also the author of “Understanding the Afterlife in This Life” and “Masa El Haor.” Feel free to visit his website at drbkastner.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.