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Afterlife

Rectification through Reincarnation

A person who hasn’t had the chance to perfect his deeds in this world, will need to purify the soul-stains left by his sins in the spiritual world before he receiving his reward

Rectification through Reincarnation
A person who hasn’t had the chance to perfect his deeds in this world, will need to purify the soul-stains left by his sins in the spiritual world before he can be rewarded for his Torah study; for the times he conquered his inclinations and all the good deeds he committed. Still, there are certain transgressions for which one is punished already in this world. A person who has caused unjust grief to another, for instance, will undergo grief himself in this world.

We need to know, however, that all the various forms of punishments met to a person for his sins — both in this world and in the world to come —are not given in revenge, chas v’shalom. Rather, they are meant to be a cleansing process and are only for man’s good. Hashem created this world to benefit His creations. All His actions and deeds — even those that are painful — are only designed for man’s good.

What is a sinner likened to? He is like the son who has been warned by his father to beware of the dangerous effects of a certain toxic substance. As soon as the father left the house, the foolish son approached the poisonous pail, and checked it out firsthand. When the father returned, the son told his father how, overcome with curiosity, he had dipped his hand in the pail and touched the poison. Alarmed, the father lifted his son and rushed him to the water pump where he washed his hands and rubbed them vigorously to remove all traces of the harmful substance from his skin. The rubbing was so intense, the boy screamed in pain: “Daddy! Why are you hurting me?!”

This father has no intention of causing his son pain. He isn’t out to exact vengeance, and he doesn’t hate his son. Nothing could be further from the truth. The father loves his son with all his heart, and the pain he inflicts is merely a reflection of his great, enduring love, as the verse goes (Mishlei 3;12): “For the L-rd chastens the one He loves, as a father placates his son.” And it would be foolish to ask why Hashem ordained that Divine cleansing must, perforce, be accompanied by pain — for had Hashem wanted, He could have created the world in such a way that man would be able to become pure without any pain? — but the answer is simple. Knowledge of future pain prevents us from sinning. Any intelligent being who is fined three months’ paycheck for eating a mouthwatering candy will find that enough of a deterrent, no matter how appetizing it seems.

In much the same way, we must gain an awareness that it doesn’t pay to enjoy a fleeting moment of sin. We must know that our suffering will be so much greater later. And after receiving a powerful Divine warning, the outcome must be authentic, it must be acted upon, unless man, meanwhile, has striven to change his ways and repented.

In certain instances, however, man may reach the Next World without first rectifying his ways, and in which suffering cannot atone for his sins. Instead, he is required to return to this world through a process called reincarnation.

A man who has stolen from others, for example, cannot rectify his deeds through one kind of punishment, or other. How can punishment cleanse him — no matter how hard it may be — if he hasn’t returned the theft? He is, therefore, made to return to this world in a reincarnation. Heavenly maneuvers will ensure that he who was stolen from (or his inheritors) will receive what they deserve in all kinds of ways, such as the indebted man losing the sum that he owes and his creditor finding it.

Hashem is the reason behind all reasons and the cause of all causes. He manipulates all the world’s events with such infinite wisdom that everything is neatly synchronized and works with utter perfection, for man’s benefit and the good of all creation.


Adapted from ‘Man and His Universe’ by Rabbi Zamir Cohen. Coming to you soon in English.

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