I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reincarnation and Reb Abraham Chazan: A Hebrew Catholic Understanding

Today among many Breslovers and other Haredi Jews we read in their writings about reincarnation (gilgulim). This is worrying as it suits a generation influenced by the reincarnation teachings of Eastern religions and of new Age and occult groups. I have discussed in previous blogs this issue of gilgulim and reincarnation and how it is a literalistic approach to the term gilgulim or galgalim.

One of the greats of Breslover Chasidim Reb Abraham Chazan(1849-1917)warns about this as well. Reb Abraham Chazan was the son of the leader of Brelsov Chasidim Reb Nachman Chazan of Tulchin (1813-1884) who in turn was the most intimate disciple of Reb Noson (Nathan) of Nemirov (1780-1844) who in turn was the chief follower of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810). The writings of Reb Abraham Chazan are some of the greats of Breslover Chasidim. His 'Biur HaLikutim' is a Breslov commentary on Rebbe Nachman's teachings. When his father died in 1884 he began recording all the Breslov stories and traditions he had received from his father. These formed the base of his books 'Kokhavei Or' and 'Sichot VeSipurim' and other writings.

Reb Abraham Chazan in his warning about the concept of reincarnation points us back to the actual teachings of Rebbe Nachman recorded in Sichot Haran by Reb Nosan (Nathan of Nemirov). When the Jewish mystics speak about gilgulim and the soul or spirit of Moses or Joseph etc being part of the soul of another later sage they are not referring to Moses or Joseph's actual soul being born into a new body. This is clear as many people living at the same time may share in the spirit of Moses. In Catholic language we would say the charism of Moses. Reb Abraham Chazan speaks of Rebbe Nachman sharing in the soul or spirit or likeness of the Messiah ben Joseph and the Messiah ben David. Kabbalah speaks of Ishmael being a gilgul of Joseph the Tzadik. This demonstrates that this is not literal reincarnation as Ishmael was born before Joseph and was in fact his great uncle.
Zvi Mark of Bar Ilan University

Zvi Mark of Bar Ilan Univeristy a leading scholar today in the writings of Rebbe Nachman and Breslov writes on this topic in his book "The Scroll of Secrets: The hidden messianic vision of R. Nachman of Breslav". He writes: "...R. Chazan himself warned against understanding the entire notion of reincarnation literally. In an answer to a question concerning a seeming contradiction between his discussion of Moses as the final messiah with a tradition that he would not return to redeem Israel, he referred his readers to one of R. Nachman's sermons which deals with the subject of reincarnation." This sermon is found in Sichot Haran 70-1. Rebbe Nachman teaches: "God does not do the same thing twice. Even with gilgul this is not an instance of the soul returning a second time. Rather, this is a case of this soul with this spirit and the likeness, as is known. Now when this soul combines with another spirit and the likeness, this is not what once was- for God does not do the same thing twice." Zvi Mark after quoting this passage from the Rebbe continues: "...R. Nathan added a note here- "This is something else, a completely new thing". It is clear, then, when one speaks of the soul of the Tzadik as the soul of the 'Moses-messiah', one is not referring to the actual return of the soul to a body that it once inhabited, nor to the return of the same spiritual object to a different body at a different time, but rather to the complicated co-mixture of spiritual entities which creates a 'completely new thing'. It is this new creation- which shares something of Moses' soul- that will eventually enact the final redemption..."

Thus it is clear that the early sages of Breslov Chasidism did not hold to the modern perverted idea of reincarnation. The term gilgulim is a mystical concept to do with sharing in the charism or 'spirit' of Tzadikim just as Elisha was granted a double portion of the 'spirit of Elijah'. As Elisha and Elijah lived at the same time this had nothing to do with reincarnation. I formerly in my youth for six years was a strong adherent to the belief in reincarnation until I received an experience of the Holy Spirit which resulted in me 'knowing' instantly that such a belief was false.

see Bahir and Reincarnation
also see Reincarnation and Judaism

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