Reader: They say that it is possible for a neshama to come down to earth more than one time. So my question is, if my particular neshama has come to earth more than once - which physical body will my neshama go back into when Moshiach arrives? Mine, or one of the others it inhabited?
Mesora: There are no “others” that your soul inhabited. Saadia Gaon is not of the opinion of reincarnation. Moshe Rabbeinu also tells the Jews, “and choose life”, meaning, one may select either life or death. But if reincarnation was true, then what fatal decision is Moshe asking of the Jews? Let them return and make a better choice next time! But that’s not the case according to Moshe. We have but one life, and there is no “next time”. Also, if there were a “next time”, the there would never be “Reward & Punishment” as we can always “undo” what sins we did. So “Reward & Punishment” also refutes reincarnation. Read Saadia Gaon’s words in “The Book of Beliefs and Opinions” which was also praised by “Duties of the Heart” author, Rabbi Bachaya. In that chapter, Saadia Gaon uses logic to display the fallacy in reincarnation. I have yet to hear a reasonable argument defending reincarnation.
Regarding Techiyas Hamasim, it makes sense that we return to our bodies, as the Neveim discuss the event where the “dry bones” were once again covered in flesh. If the same bones are used, it makes sense that the same human who used to cloth these bones with flesh will be formed again form these bones.
Reader: They say the bodies buried outside of Eretz Yisrael will roll over and over underground until it arrives in Eretz Yisrael where it will be brought above ground to live forever more rejoicing the praises of Hashem...so with this info one can only assume that the neshama will most definitely become a part of a human form again (as opposed to being as bright as the sun, being like Adam was in the beginning). Do you have any light to shed on this dilemma for me? I greatly appreciate your efforts in helping me answer this question.
Mesora: The bones “rolling” is a Medrash, and not to be taken literally. It may simply mean that Israel is the final destination of all ...even those who died. As if they will “roll” there.
Reader: To tell you a little more.... as much as I intellectually know “I am” my neshama (not my body) and as well as I understand I will never die because a neshama never dies (only the body dies)...to be honest... my body is not the best body in the world and if I was “nice” I would prefer my neshama have a “better” body to live in forever more than my body.
Mesora: But in Yimos HaMoshiach, peoples’ values will be more attracted to truth, and although one may feel regret for their comparatively “lesser” appearance now, in the future, values will not condemn a lesser appearance. All peoples will be attracted to knowledge of God. You need not sigh over what will not be.
Reader: But every time I think of dying I think of my physical body dying and all the people I will miss here in this world...every time I think of death, big tears fall from my eyes...every time I think of death. How can I get over this reaction every time I think of death?
Mesora: Your error is that you assume your feelings here, will continue in Olam Haba. But human anguish does not exist after we die, in Olam Haba. Our feelings are not synonymous with our “souls”, so they exists only here, while only our perfected souls will continue onto the next world. Rambam says that animals too have feelings, thus, we perform “Shiluach Hakaan” so the mother bird does not witness the truly stressful sight of seeing man take her eggs. So if animals have feelings this proves that feelings are not part of the soul, as animals have no soul.
So you should not think that you would sense any feelings of “missing” people when in Olam Haba, those feelings will not plague you. It will be a most enjoyable state where, as the Rabbis say, “the righteous will sit with crowns on their heads, enjoying the splendor of God.”