Reincarnation and Job




Debby: Moshe, Thanks for all your articles on the topic of reincarnation - and for the many published letters that explore additional Torah-based refutations of reincarnation.  I’m working hard to put aside my preconceived ideas, in order to examine your articles from a rational point of view.  May I ask you to please comment on the following?


“One of the texts the mystics like to cite as a scriptural allusion to the principle of reincarnation is the following verse in the Book of Job: Behold, all these things does God do -- twice, even three times with a man -- to bring his soul back from the pit that he may be enlightened with the light of the living. (Job 33:29)”


Many thanks, Debby





Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim: Debby, read the context:


“22. Yea, his soul draws near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. 23. If there be an angel with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness: 24. Then he is gracious unto him, and says deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. 25. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth: 26. He shall pray unto God, and he will be favorable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. 27. He looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; 28. He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. 29. Lo, all these things works God twice or three times with man, 30. To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.”


This clearly refers to saving man from “descending to death” (pit) two or three times.... not resurrecting, but from initiating a deathblow. I am baffled that someone looks at these very clear words, as proof to reincarnation. A wise Rabbi once wrote the following on the angel:


“There are two explanations for this idea of the angel:


1) The angel refers to man’s intellect. Meaning, if man reflects (one in a thousand means even a minute reflection) God will save the individual. This follows Maimonides’ explanation, as he maintains that God’s Providence is directly inline with the perfection of man’s intellect.  If he is highly perfected, God’s Providence will be directly inline with him.  And if he is corrupt, God’s Providence will not relate to him. What is the idea of “once or twice”?  This means that God’s Providence offers man two or three chances in life to follow the intellect. Bit if this person keeps falling back into the emotions, that individual is too corrupt for God’s two or three mercies, and Divine Providence is removed from him. Maimonides states this in his Laws of Teshuva, “For the first few sins, a person are forgiven.”


2) The second explanation of the angel means nature. Maimonides explains in the Guide that “angel” refers to a force of nature. The Rabbis also state, “every blade of grass has an ‘angel’ helping it grow.” This means that certain laws of nature govern every blade of grass – no matter how minute. This second view of “angel” maintains that when man falls sick, a natural phenomena can occur (two or three times, but not always) in which the man gets well (viz., end of the disease). But this only happens two or three times because when one usually gets very sick, he does not recover. After recovery, the saved individual may tell his friends about his miraculous “close call.” He feels that the natural phenomena that saved him have to do with God desirous of his health; he now feels that God saved him. This religious feeling is based on the desire to have God take care of him.”