DEVOTEE: Do the Jews believe in reincarnation and the possibility that we can take birth in an animal body?
RABBI: Although not commonly discussed, most Rabbis accept reincarnation (or transmigration of the soul). In the Zohar, R Simeon says, "that verse Ex. XX, 10 assuredly speaks of the soul of the Righteous One, teaching us that even though she may have to undergo transmigration, even in a manservant, or a maidservant, or an animal, in it thou shall do no manner of work."
DEVOTEE: The Vedas teach of two important concepts in spiritual science--karma and transmigration of the soul. Karma means that for whatever action we perform, we will suffer or enjoy a proportionate reaction. And reincarnation or transmigration of the soul means that the soul accepts one material body after another according to how one's life is led. The Bhagavad-gita teaches that whatever one is thinking at the time of death will determine the next body. [Bg. 8.6] Therefore, if we have developed an animalistic mentality at the time of death, the soul will accept an animal body just suiting that mentality. If we have been sinful during one lifetime, then we will suffer the reactions to those sins in our next lifetime. That is why some people are born into very nice situations and others are born into extreme difficulty. If we accept that God is all powerful and all good, then without accepting the principle of karma and reincarnation, there is no theistic way to explain why things happen the way they do in this world.
RABBI: Actually, many people give up their faith in Judaism and other religions because they do not understand or agree with that important point.
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