There is a concept in Jewish mystical thought known as
gilgul, which can be translated as reincarnation.
Gilgul does not necessarily mean that a soul in its
entirety has been reincarnated; it may only be a
nitzotz, or spark of a soul, that is reincarnated.
That is to say that an individual can possess a
nitzotz from the soul of someone who has lived
previously. Gilgul occurs when the preceding
incarnation of that soul has more to accomplish.
Rabbi Menashe Ben Israel of the 17th century writes
that the word, gilgul, in Hebrew letters equals the
numerical value of 72, which is also chesed, the
Hebrew word for kindness. When this type of numerical
connection occurs,it implies a conceptual
relationship. In this case, reincarnation is seen as
the ultimate kindness, in that a soul is given another
chance for the refinement of its past and the
spiritual advancement of its future.
Ultimately, a soul can never fail. To succeed, the
soul will come back as many times as necessary to
fulfill its spiritual mission. This is the view of the
Kabbalists, who call the process of the soul’s
returning for the purpose of rectification tikkun, or
repair. Sometimes it is discussed as the birur
hisaron, or the clearing of a shortcoming.
If greatness is your soul’s destiny, then to achieve
it, it’s only logical that you have a plan. Just as
you would not head off to college without knowing
about the school you’ll be attending, souls do not
randomly incarnate into this world. Rather, souls
arrive with a very specific curriculum containing both
goals and challenges. Your parents are a big part of