Just Passing Through – By Pinchas Winston
IT IS HARD TO imagine that some people do not believe in the concept of the soul,
even though it is their soul that provides them with life and the ability to speak
about the very soul that they profess not to believe in.
They use the source of their very breath to disclaim the source of their very breath.
This does not mean that they have an alternative and viable explanation for the greatest
wonder of Creation: human consciousness.
It just means that they choose to ignore one of the most basic beliefs in human history,
and instead to concoct ever weirder and less-likely explanations for what makes human
beings tick, and so ingeniously.
There are usually a few reasons for this approach, but the more “scientific”
one is that no one has ever really seen a soul.
Souls are invisible, and when they leave their mark it is not usually in a way
that it can be examined and interpreted in the lab,
even with the aid of an electron microscope.
Most scientists don’t like that.
Determined to find something concrete to explain the essence of who we are and why,
scientists and doctors have examined and mapped out every last component of the brain, but to no avail.
They have found lots of other interesting things, but no consciousness;
just all the various different elements that consciousness accesses to accomplish things in this world.
This strongly suggests what religionists have long taught, that consciousness belongs to another
realm altogether, a spiritual one, and not one that can be dissected or examined in any physical way.
Like energy, which physicists now accept as being the basis of all physical Creation,
consciousness seems to defy the nature of the physical world while at the same time giving life and form to it.
In the meantime, a believer can simply bypass the raging debate that has already resulted in untold amounts of
wasted time and money, and quickly enhance his understanding of the soul by going to the sources that discuss it.
Based upon tradition, these sources describe the human soul in complex detail.
The information is empowering, not only because it allows a person to gain access to hidden levels of greatness,
but because it allows one to look at others in a wholly different, far more positive light.
For, interwoven into the discussion about the soul is the concept of gilgul—reincarnation—from which it is quite apparent that every
soul is on its own journey to perfection, and that the path of one soul is not that of another.
It is no wonder that the Talmud warns us to judge others to the side of merit;
can a human being truly understand the tests and choices of another person?
This is also why speaking loshon hara about another is such a severe sin: only God can judge a person’s soul
and truly know if they are guilty or innocent, especially since the calculation may include previous incarnations.
Not only this, but this type of knowledge helps tremendously to put to rest many of the issues that have plagued mankind
for millennia, such as the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people.
Or, at least to Iyov, who is the prime example of a good person who seemed to have suffered needlessly.
Until, that is, you learn that Iyov was in fact the reincarnation of Terach,
the father of Avraham Avinu and a major worshipper of idols.
Apparently, the teshuvah Terach had done before dying had not been enough to fully rectify his soul, s
o Iyov’s suffering finished the job.
Are you artistic? Do you like to build things?
You have come from the line of Kayin, explains Rabbi Chaim Vital, and that has implications about your soul
and what you will find easy or difficult in life.
Or, do you prefer speaking? That is a Hevel-like trait, and having such a soul has other implications, a
nd knowing such information can help in planning one’s direction in life.
This is just the beginning of the discussion, the end of which is beyond the scope of this book.
However, we can certainly cover enough important points to help us understand some of the journey our souls are taking,
in order to continue in the direction of personal tikun—personal rectification.