Shelach: Recycled Souls
To this day, Jews from around the world – and even within Israel's borders – look at the Land of Israel through material eyes...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
"They are all leaders of the Children of Israel..." (Numbers 13:3)
The Torah is like the Red Sea: even when you only look at its surface, it's beautiful, but the deeper you dive, the more exhilarating it becomes and the more you see things of magnificence that you never imagined.
Who would believe that the ten spies, Joshua and Caleb were walking around with the souls of Jacob's twelve sons? Rabbi Chaim Vital explains that the Torah deliberately refers to the spies as “leaders of the Children of Israel” and not as “leaders of the Nation of Israel” or “leaders of the Legions of Israel”. Why? They actually were the “Children of Israel”, the sons of Jacob, aka Israel. How? The souls of Jacob's twelve sons were intercalated in the bodies of the ten spies, Joshua and Caleb.
People often ask if Jews believe in reincarnation; they certainly do, for it is an integral part of the Jewish faith. Yet, as Rabbi Chaim Vital explains, there are more than one way that a body becomes a carrier of a soul. Simply speaking, there are two ways, reincarnation and intercalation, as follows:
A reincarnated soul is a soul that has been on earth before and now comes back in a newborn baby to either rectify something from a past life or to perform a specific mission in this life, or both.
An intercalated soul is a soul that attaches itself to an already living person to help that person perform a certain mitzva or task, especially in the area of learning Torah and gaining enhanced proximity to Hashem, or to attain a “fine correction” for itself in rectifying something that would constitute a blemish on that soul's lofty level.
The difference between the two is that a reincarnated soul stays with a person for his or her entire lifetime. An intercalated soul, which is usually the soul of a righteous individual, leaves a person who commits a serious transgression, for this type of soul especially detests sin.
Each head of the Twelve Tribes was intercalated with the soul of one of Jacob's twelve sons, the patriarch of that respective tribe. For example, Caleb, who came from the tribe of Judah, was intercalated with the soul of Judah. Since Judah and Ephraim were righteous, separating themselves from the other ten spies who sinned by discouraging the Children of Israel from entering the Land of `israel, the souls of Judah and Ephraim remained within them. As the other ten sinned, the souls of Jacob's sons left them, as Rabbi Chaim Vital explains.
Even though Jacob's twelve sons left the Land of Israel and descended to Egypt for a legitimate reason, to seek a livelihood and feed their families, for there was a severe famine in the Land of Israel at the time, on their spiritual level, this was a blemish. Since they descended to Egypt for material purposes, they need the rectification of ascending in return to the Land of Israel for spiritual purposes. As such, the twelve spies corresponded to Jacob's twelve sons; they should have discovered the spiritual merits of the Land of Israel, namely, that it's the Land of Emuna, it's the home of the Divine Presence and it's much more conducive to acquiring the wisdom of Torah and observing its commandments. Had they done this, the twelve spies would have brought the Nation of Israel to the Land of Israel and the Holy Temple would have been built immediately.
Unfortunately, ten of the twelve spies made a grave error. They looked at the Land of Israel from material eyes rather than from spiritual eyes. As such, they failed to rectify the souls that were intercalated within them, so those souls left them, especially after they committed the sin of slander against the holy Land of Israel.
King Solomon says that there's nothing new under the sun. To this day, Jews from around the world – and even within Israel's borders – look at the Land of Israel through material eyes. They see inconvenience, hostile enemies, impoliteness according to Western etiquette, limited job opportunities and a lower standard of living. They don't see emuna, which brings them both spiritual and material abundance. They also don't see the much greater closeness to Hashem.
Aliya, or ascent to the Land of Israel is not only a mitzva, but it's also an integral part of every Jewish soul's rectification. Come home soon, for both your souls and the Land of Israel yearn for the day when they become reunited.
 Prime disciple and scribe of the Holy “Ariza'l”, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the father of Kabbalah
 Shaar HaGilgulim, Ch. 36
 Gilgul in Hebrew
 Ibur in Hebrew
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.