Transmigration of Souls

On the subject of the transmigration of souls, why is there transmigration? Know that a soul transmigrates for many reasons. The first is that it may have transgressed against one of the transgressions that are in the Torah, and must repenter [this world] in order to put it right (letaken). The second is to put right some commandment that it has omitted. The third is that it repenters because of the needs of others, to guide them or to put them right (letakenam). Note that in the first case [the soul] is close to sin, since it sinned beforehand; in the second it is far from sin, and in the third case, it is certain that it would not have sinned.

Moreover, there are other reasons, and these are: Sometimes a soul is transmigrated in order to marry its intended mate, for it may not have been worthy of marrying [its intended mate] beforehand. And sometimes, it has married its intended mate, but sinned in the matter of some transgression, and must therefore be transmigrated in order to put that right, as mentioned below (chapter 20). But then it only returns singly, as is stated in [the part of the Zohar known as] the 'Old Man of Mishpatim' on the verse: 'If he came single, [he shall leave single]...' (Exodus 21:3). Sometimes it may have [sufficient] merit, and yet despite the fact that it doesn't have to be transmigrated, his wife is made to go back to transmigrate with him, as is alluded to in [the continuation of Exodus 21:3, 'if he had a wife], his wife shall leave with him.' And sometimes, a soul that did not have the merit to marry its intended mate at first, but has instead been made to marry a woman in accordance with its deeds--for of all the female souls in the world there was none nearer [to his level] than this woman, even though she was not its true intended mate--when such a soul sins and must be transmigrated, it is transmigrated with that of this woman, even though she may not be required to transmigrate, and even though she is not his true intended mate.

Furthermore, know that there are many roots of souls which have fallen into [the power of] the kelippot ('shells'), they and their wives [who are] their intended spouses. The males are able to depart from the midst of the kelippot now, in this world, but the females are unable to depart at all until the coming of the Messiah. At present, they are sunk and drawn down into the kelippot of the feminine, but I have forgotten what its name is: whether it is Agrat bat Machalat or Na'amah, the mother of demons....

Hayyim Vital, Sha'ar HaGilgulim ('The Gate of Transmigrations') Chapter 8 (Jerusalem: 1974), pp. 32-33.

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