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Surfin’ with Sufis

Sufism was perhaps first popularized in a 1968 film, The Mystic’s Journey, which featured the religious studies scholar Huston Smith.

In keeping with the times, Smith depicted Sufis as exotic whirling dervishes, reminiscent of the inside sleeve of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour lp.

This contributed to a Western myth of Sufis as itinerant mystics, blissfully dancing through enchanted, far away lands.

While this depiction may not be entirely wrong, like most religious and spiritual traditions, Sufism is about real people with definite roots and different schools of organized belief.

The Sufis emerged from Islamic orthodoxy. The word sufi (Arabic = mystic) is likely based on the root suf (wool), recalling the simple woolen garments worn by ascetics. The Sufi generally believes in a kind of natural pantheism, where creator and creation are seen as one unbroken whole. So the goal of the Sufi is to totally immersed themselves in this undivided oneness.

Sufism became an organized movement around the 7th and 8th centuries, mostly in reaction to the Middle-Eastern Umayyad dynasty, which was perceived as too worldly. The most publicized Dervish orders of Sufism arose in India around the 12th and 13th centuries. These emphasized ecstatic states and were criticized by some orthodox believers but, nevertheless, remained influential into modern times.

Like any kind of religious experience, we can’t say too much about what a Sufi actually feels, or how the numinous, inner light – if any – is experienced by them. But there’s no shortage of Sufi literature that might give us some kind of clue.

The following beautifully reveals Abul Cheir’s particular identification with all aspects of existence and his understanding of cosmic totality.

I am the mote from the sun, I am the sun’s round.
I am the first light of dawn, the sighs of eve, the rustling of the branch, the roar of the sea.
I am mast, tiller, skip, and vessel. I am the shoal upon which I sink.
I am bird-catcher, bird and net. I am face and mirror, voice and echo.
I am the living tree and the parrot of the branch.
I am silence and thought, tongue and speech.
I am the breath of the flute, the glimmer of stone, the shining of metal.
I am the drunk and the grape, the winepress and tavern, the crystal of the cup.
I am the candle and the moth that circles round it.
I am doctor and illness, poison and cure.
I am war and peace, battlefield and victory; village and conquerors, hordes and wall.
I am the mortar and trowel, worker and plan, cornerstone and high tree, structure and ruin.
I am the hart and the lion, the lamb and wolf. I am herdsman of all.
I am the chain of being, the ring of all worlds, the ladder of creation, the rising and falling.
I am what is and what is not. I am the soul inside All.¹

Again, this kind of identifying with the ALL was criticized within some orthodox circles. Sayings like “I am truth” and Praise be to me” are bound to raise a few eyebrows among any kind of orthodoxy that believes everyday human beings can never be equal to God.²

Professor Alford T. Welch likens the Sufi’s quest for mystical union to the 14th-century Christian treatise, Theologia Germanica.³ Welch says that both types of mystics, Sufi and Christian, undero distinct phases in the pursuit of the ultimate realization of love and continual God-awareness.

I Purification

1. Remorse for sin
2. Confession of sin
3. Reconciliation of life

II Enlightenment

4.  Avoidance of sin
5.  Living life of virtue and good works
6.  Bearing trial and temptation

III Union

7.  Pureness and integrity of heart
8.  Love
9.  Meditation on God

However, this comparison might be a bit forced. A moment’s reflection tells us that we can’t really know if Sufi and Christian mystics experience (what they see as) God in the same way. Certainly their respective conceptions of God differ. For the Sufi, God is everything. Whereas the Christian sees God in sharp contrast to that which is “not from” or which has “rebelled against” God—i.e. Satan or evil. So it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Sufi and Christian experiences of God also differ.

Theological speculation and debates aside, the essence of Sufism might best be expressed by the 13th-century and increasingly popular poet Jala ud-Din Rumi. Rumi’s verse can be found in most bookstores and his message prefigures Joseph Campbell’s dictum of “follow your bliss”:

Why are your lips dry when the cup is full?
Conceive an impossible plan – as Noah did!
Live the life that you love!4

Sufism Links


¹ I stumbled upon this passage at the University of Ottawa library in the 1990s, before the birth of Unfortunately the complete reference is currently unavailable, although I’m hoping to track it down.

² See William Theodore de Bary (ed.), Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. 1, New York: Columbia University Press, 1958, p. 407.

³ Adapted from Alford T. Welch, “Islam” in John R. Hinnells (ed.) A New Handbook of Living Religions, Cambridge Mass: Blackwell and Penguin, 1997, p. 204.

4 Cited in T. Freke and P. Gandy, The Complete Guide to World Mysticism, London: Piatkus. 1998, p. 111.

Surfin’ with Sufis © Michael Clark.
Photos Jelebia and Rainbow over Rabat © Michael Clark.


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Religion, Science and Political Beliefs

mix of Homo Models; (from right to left) H. ha...

Mix of Homo Models: H. habilis, H. ergaster, H. erectus; H. antecessor - male, female, H. heidelbergensis; H. neanderthalensis - girl, male, H. sapiens sapiens (via Wikipedia)

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

American Jews support natural science more than any other religious group in the U.S. according to Rabbi Allen S. Maller in Los Angeles. Rabbi Maller points to a September PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey (released  9/22/11) that explores the connection between politics, religion and American’s views of evolution and the human factor in causing climate change.


A majority (57%) of Americans believe that humans and other living beings have evolved over time, compared to 38% who say that humans and other living beings have existed in their present form since creation. More than 6-in-10 political independents (61%) and Democrats (64%) affirm a belief in evolution, compared to 45% of Republicans and 43% of Americans who identify with the Tea Party.

Nearly two-thirds (66%) of white mainline Protestants, 61% of Catholics, 77% of the unaffiliated and almost 90% of Jews believe humans and other living beings evolved over time, compared to only about one-third (32%) of white evangelicals. African American Protestants are evenly divided on the question, with 47% affirming a belief in evolution and 46% affirming a belief in creationism.

Climate Change

Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans say that there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, compared to only 26% who disagree. But there are large, asymmetrical political divisions over belief about climate change. Eighty-one percent of Democrats and 7-in-10 independents believe the earth is getting warmer, compared to only half (49%) of Republicans and only about 4-in-10 (41%) Americans who identify as members of the Tea Party.

Strong majorities of every religious group say that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer, including 9-in-10 Jews, 7-in-10 Catholics and unaffiliated, 63% of white mainline Protestants, and 57% of white evangelicals.

But Americans are divided along partisan and religious lines about the underlying causes of climate change. Among those who believe the earth is getting warmer, nearly two-thirds (64%) believe that climate change is caused by human activity, compared to 32% who say it is caused by natural environmental patterns. Less than 1-in-5 Republicans (18%) and Tea Party members (18%) believe that climate change is caused by human activity, compared to 60% of Democrats.

White evangelicals are significantly less likely to believe that the earth is getting warmer and that changes are caused by human activity (31%) than white mainline Protestants (43%), Catholics (50%), the unaffiliated (52%) and Jews (over 70%).

The 140 year war between the disciples of Moses and the disciples of Darwin that was sparked by the publication of Darwin’s Decent of Man in 1871 should be drawing to a close, with victory going to those who are the disciples of both according to Rabbi Maller. In the last few decades genetics has provided us with a whole new source of information about the evolution of Homo Sapiens. A simple example of this, is the answer to the question of when people first began wearing clothing, provided recently by studies of lice genes.


Homo Sapiens is the only living species that clothes itself. Fossilized textiles from more than 20,000 years ago have been found in the cold climates of ice age Europe. However, according to the Torah, the origins of clothing are the not the result of human adaptation to an ice age climate, but the result of human concepts of modesty. Self-aware intelligent minds became moral minds and then became modest minds. Recent DNA studies of body lice that must lay their eggs in clothing, show that these lice evolved from pubic lice that had adapted to clothing that covered the pubic area. According to a 2003 study led by Mark Stoneking, a geneticist at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, this genetic adaptation took place 42-72,000 years ago. This is a date that would fit in with living in ice age Europe and Asia. But a newer study recently published in the January, 2011 issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution, indicates a date of separation between body and clothing lice of  83.000 to 170.000 years ago. Thus, Homo Sapiens may have been clothing themselves for about 100-150,000 years. If the higher estimate proves to be correct, it will mean that long before Homo Sapiens needed to wear clothing due to living in very cold northern climates, moral rules of modesty and probity became so important that our ancestors, for moral reasons and not simply for comfort reasons, began to cloth themselves. This is precisely the teaching of Genesis 3:7

A great deal of unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding between the disciples of Darwin and the disciples of Moses has been caused by the careless use of the terms ‘human’ and ‘man’ to describe the increasing number of fossil finds of tool using biped species, some of them, ancestral to Homo Sapiens. Forty years ago, when only about a half dozen Homo species were described, they were listed  in a straight line and all popularly labeled Humans: and not human like. Now, paleontologists have about two dozen different species (depending on who is counting), most of them living at the same time as one or two other similar species. When conservationists discuss species they never lump all mice or tortoises together; but paleoanthropologists routinely call all the different Homo species by the same common name Man or Human. Following the lead of Robert Foley of Cambridge University, who argues that all species of Homo Sapiens prior to Homo Sapiens Sapiens should be made subspecies of Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens should “be reserved only for modern humans” I always try to refer to each distinct species by its scientific name only. Recent fossils found on Flores Island in Indonesia in September 2003 are from a new species of tool using bipeds named Homo Floresiensis that lived as recently as 15,000 years ago. They are not pigmy Homo Sapiens (HS). They used fire (in use by pre HS species for more than half a million years) and made stone tools Yet we do not know of any HF or HN evidence of ritual burials, which are the earliest forms of non-material cultural activity, prior to 100.000 years ago. Most people think that the name ‘human’ or ‘mankind’ should be reserved only for our own species. Not using the name ‘human’ and ‘man’ carelessly might help resolve some of the conflict over the theory of evolution.

Another example of genetics bringing the disciples of Darwin and Moses closer together is mitochondrial Adam and Eve. For most of the 20th century paleoanthropologists believed that HS evolved from Homo Neanderthals (HN) or some other related species like Homo Erectus, in various regions around the world. Thus, there was no Eden like center and no first HS male of female. This belief has been transformed by many genetic studies. Today, with the exceptions of a few regionalists, most  paleoanthropologists think there was a historic  “out of Africa”  homeland. They also think that there was an individual HS male from whom all of today’s men are descendent, who lived thousands of years after the an individual HS female from whom all of today’s women are descendent.. All men in the world today carry the same Y chromosome and both men and woman carry the same mitochondria X chromosome. All of today’s Y chromosomes were inherited from the same single source, a Y chromosome carried by one individual male. In the same way, we all carry same mitochondrial DNA because all mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to child, and passed down through mother to daughter. When a daughter of that first universal mitochondrial DNA female mated with a son of the first universal Y male; Homo Sapiens, the children of Adam and Eve, were born, None of the descendants of the pre-modern HS have survived.

In any case, very few Jews, even among the ultra-Orthodox, read the Bible literally. Jews know that a religious text always has many levels of meaning. Every rabbi can give you three or four meanings to a verse. Just go to any Torah study class and see for yourself.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is

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Prospects for abundant Earthlike worlds keep improving

Image from

Planet Discovery Neighbourhood in Milky Way Galaxy - NASA via Wikipedia

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In his introduction to Modern Kabbalah, “God, Sex and Kabbalah”, Rabbi Allen S. Maller devoted an entire chapter to Extra Terrestrial Intelligent Life and God. In 1983 when the book was published, there was no evidence that any other stars had planetary systems. Today astronomers have discovered over 1,500 planets.

This supports Rabbi Maller’s assertion, based on Kabbalistic teachings, that God didn’t create a universe with millions of billions of stars and leave it devoid of intelligent, spiritually aware lifeforms,  with only one exception. Earth size planets at the right distance to support carbon based life will be discovered in the next few years according to Rabbi Maller.

A recent report in Science News Web edition : September 13th, 2011 by Nadia Drake explains that:

“Planet hunters have unlocked a treasure chest of alien worlds to reveal more than 50 newly discovered planets, including at least 16 not much bigger than Earth and one small, sparkling nugget: a 3.6-Earth-mass planet, parked just inside its star’s life-friendly zone. “We can say that most sunlike stars have planets, and most of them have low-mass planets,” says astronomer Francesco Pepe, a member of the Geneva Observatory.

An accompanying study that will appear in an upcoming issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics presents the team’s long-awaited characterization of its planetary population – and suggests that more than 50 percent of sunlike stars sport a planet. The little guys among them – with masses between Earth’s and Neptune’s – occur primarily in planetary systems. This suggests that roughly 70 to 80 percent of low-mass planets might live in multiplanet neighborhoods, Pepe says.

“The handwriting is more than on the wall now. We can see that most stars have planetary systems, probably like our own,” says astronomer Debra Fischer of Yale University. “This paper is a home-run hit.” The new collection suggests that lighter planets are more common in extrasolar systems than heavier Jupiter-like ones. Though the discovery of Earth-sized planets remains in the future, when such planets come out of the darkness astronomers predict they will be yet more common.

While surveys haven’t detected any Earth-massed planets yet, they’re getting close. As instruments become more precise and planet-finding missions like Kepler continue to stare at stars, finding Earth-like planets in life-friendly orbits looms. “The floodgates are about to open,” Fischer says. “Between what Kepler is doing and these Doppler surveys, we’re really on the threshold of seeing a whole population of planets in this so-called habitable zone.”

Within a decade, astronomers hope to aim telescopes like the planned European Extremely Large Telescope at target exoplanets to sniff out the presence of oxygen or other biomarkers in their atmospheres from across intergalactic space. Right now, there are no instruments capable of doing this – but there will be” and a large part of Rabbi Maller’s assertion will be vindicated.

Rabbi Maller’s web site is


How to Eat and Drink Spiritually

A Sefer Torah, the traditional form of the Heb...

A Sefer Torah, the traditional form of the Hebrew Bible, is a scroll of parchment - via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Humans like all animals need to eat in order to live; but unlike all other animals some humans will refuse to eat certain foods that other humans will gladly eat. This universal human trait proves that “humans do not live by bread alone, but humans may live on anything that God decrees.” (Deut. 8:3) Thus by periodically not eating at all (total fasting) Jews, Muslims and Hindus live by God’s words. Some people reject the enjoyment of eating in general and add extra days of fasting to their diet. Other people carry vegetarianism too far and stop eating all egg and milk products. The Torah commands a moderate path between simply killing and eating anything you want, and excessive fasting or rejecting broad categorizes of food (as some vegetarians and vegans do).

If we only eat foods that we enjoy, we end up with a physically unhealthy diet. Obesity accounted for over 26,000 deaths in the year 2,010 and it gets worse each year. Our natural tastes and desires do not lead us to good health. Maximizing enjoyment in the short run leads to disaster in the long run. Self-discipline leads to longer life. Religious self-discipline leads to a higher spiritual life. If you eat your fill you will become satiated. If you eat according to God’s decrees you will become satisfied. As is written, “EAT! BECOME SATIATED/SATISFIED! AND BLESS THE LORD” (Deut. 8:10)

The Sages rule that we should say a blessing even if we eat only a small piece of bread the size of an olive. If that is all you have, be grateful you have that. One person can be satiated and not be satisfied, while another can be satisfied without being satiated. “Who  are wealthy? Those who are satisfied with what they have.” (Avot 4:1)  The blessing after the meal is a Mitsvah from the Torah (Deuteronomy 8:10). The Sages also ruled that we should say a blessing-the Motzi, before we eat. The Motzi ends “who brings forth bread from the earth.” This phrase from Psalm 104:14 is preceded by “who makes the grass spring up for cattle” to reminded us every time we eat, that we are part of the animal world and need to be considerate of their needs too. Thus it is a Mitsvah not to eat until one’s domestic animals have been fed. (Deut. 11:15) The Motzi phrase from Psalm 104 is followed by “who makes wine to rejoice the human heart” to remind us that, unlike several other faith traditions, Judaism doesn’t prohibit wine, even though it can be abused. Yet we should always drink and eat in moderation.

We should also thank the cook, the baker, the miller, the farmer and everyone else involved in producing our food. But what about the four fundamental elements for producing food: sun, rain, earth and seed-none of which we create. Usually we are so caught up in using the end products that we forget our dependence on the fundamentals. That is why we so blithely harm our environment. The Motzi helps us remember what life is really based on, and why we should be both grateful and reverent to God. Those who live by all these Mitsvot (spiritual rules/exercises are regarded as if they dine with the Lord as it says, “This is the table, which is before God.”  (Ezekiel 41:22)

Rabbi Allen Maller’s web site is

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Hindus upset over Fox News labeling them as “fringe group”

Countries where Fox News is provided

Countries where Fox News is provided - by Connormah via Wikipedia

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Hindus are protesting against the Fox News channel for reported remarks hinting that Hinduism was a fringe group.

Channel’s Gretchen Carlson, Fox & Friends co-host, in September seven segment, reportedly apparently labeled Hindus and others as “sort of fringe groups”.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hinduism was oldest and third largest religion of the world with a rich philosophical thought and about one billion adherents. How such a religion, which gave the world its oldest existing scripture Rig-Veda and yoga (practiced by about 16 million Americans), could be classified as a fringe group, Zed asked.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that such remarks were very hurtful to the devotees. Besides apparently denigrating the religion, it was belittling the entire community. No faith, larger or smaller, should be taken lightly and ridiculed at.

Rajan Zed urged Fox and its owner News Corporation to be more sensitive when handling faith related subjects, as television was a forceful medium. He asked News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Fox News Channel Chairman Roger Ailes and Gretchen Carlson to immediately issue a statement on this matter.

In December 2009 also, Glenn Beck remarked on Fox News channel that river Ganges (whom Hindus consider holy) “sounds like a disease” and later reportedly apologized after Hindus protested.

News Corporation, reportedly with assets of about US$62 billion, is a diversified global media company with operations in cable, film, television, satellite broadcast, publishing; and activities principally in USA, Continental Europe, United Kingdom, Australia, Asia and Latin America. Fox News claims to reach over 90 million homes. Gretchen Elizabeth Carlson, 45, joined Fox News Channel in June 2005 and Fox & Friends is claimed to be “the No. 1 cable morning program”.

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ESP may be useful in defense, health, survival, unconventional areas

Gen. David H. Petraeus chats with Sen. Barack ...

Gen. David H. Petraeus chats with Sen. Barack Obama after a briefing to a congressional delegation via Wikipedia

By Steve Hammons

This article first appeared on Joint Recon Study Group, May 8, 2011; it also appears on American Chronicle, May 11, 2011.

Of the many kinds of so-called anomalous or unusual phenomena, the mysteries of the human mind certainly seem to be among the most interesting.

For example, the extrasensory perception (ESP) techniques and processes generally called “remote viewing” have provided valuable information and insight for U.S. defense and intelligence activities.

Although many of these remote viewers reportedly had better-than-average natural ESP abilities to begin with, it is also conjectured that all people have these sixth-sense perceptions too. However, many people probably don’t recognize their internal hunches and feelings. Further, most of us don’t practice using these awareness skills on important defense and intelligence efforts.

A range of ESP-type perceptual abilities have been referred to as anomalous cognition. We might also call these skills “enhanced situation awareness.”

Following on from the leading-edge health care concepts of integrative medicine and complementary medicine, the terms “integrative perception” and “complementary cognition” have also been proposed as a broader view of ESP.


An inspirational and amazing incident involving U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, current nominee for CIA director, occurred in June 2008. Something very interesting happened that appears to be related to these concepts, including their application in health care as well as defense and intelligence.

That day in 2008 when Petraeus went to visit Army 1st Lieutenant Brian Brennan in the hospital, there was little hope for the 101st Airborne Division officer. He had lost both legs in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Afghanistan. He had suffered extremely serious traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Brennan had been in a coma, unresponsive to medical staff and his family. Petraeus paid his respects and tried saying a few words of support to the comatose 101st lieutenant, also with no response from Brennan. As Petraeus began to leave, a thought struck him.

He thought of the motto, battle cry and touchstone concept of the 101st Airborne: “Currahee.” This is a Cherokee word that means “We stand alone together.”

Petraeus spoke the word aloud to the comatose officer and immediately Brennan began to move his body vigorously. His responsiveness continued to the point where he eventually made an apparent miraculous recovery, according to his family and health care professionals.

When President Barack Obama recently visited the home of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, did this mysterious incident cross his mind? After all, Obama has stated that he has some Cherokee background in his family tree, like millions of other Americans.

And, interestingly, Fort Campbell is located on the Kentucky-Tennessee border in the general area of the ancient and traditional Cherokee homeland of the Appalachian Mountain region.


When a Navy SEAL officer coined the term “transcendent warfare” in a graduate-level research paper for the Marine Corps War College several years ago, he was referring to forward-leaning discoveries and concepts, particularly those related to ESP and remote viewing.

However, this officer did not limit the transcendent warfare concept to the activities of Project STAR GATE and related research into human consciousness.

Rather, he noted that advanced research into a range of unconventional scientific developments could be applied to defense, intelligence and other areas of human endeavor to produce positive results.

When the idea of transcendent warfare is applied as a complementary or integrative component of hard power, soft power and smart power, a follow-on modality of “transcendent power” may be quite useful.

Additionally, when transcendent power is applied to a wider range of activities such as health care, communications, education, technology and various kinds of research and development, we may be able to envision further significant emerging progress.

How wide and deep could such progress be? Could new (or rediscovered) aspects of human perception and awareness contribute to significant change on planet Earth? Could human development itself be impacted by this kind of understanding?

In addition to the serious conventional challenges such as war and terrorism, injury and disease, overpopulation and hunger, poverty and injustice, pollution and climate change, we also may be facing some very unconventional developments.

These challenges could also be approached using a more up-to-date view of human consciousness and new theories in quantum physics about the Universe and Nature.

What are the limits of the application of transcendent power when applied by individuals and groups to even more unusual situations and theories?

For example, can we use advanced perception to verify the existence of an afterlife or Heaven where our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on now reside? Will we be able to confirm that angels do exist and conduct covert operations here in our world?

What about the idea of a larger intelligence – an overarching intelligence that may even have a plan for us?

An even more unconventional area of study involves the reports, rumors and indications that Earth could be visited by unusual beings from other planets, dimensions or times. How would expanded or enhanced human awareness dovetail with such developments? Do certain unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have real significance for national and global defense as well as other human activities?

These questions seem like interesting food for thought.

When we do think about possible future events and outcomes, it could be helpful to remember the work of Project STAR GATE, other advanced research, the concept of transcendent warfare and Gen. Petraeus’ sudden impulse in 2008 to say the word “currahee” to seriously-wounded warrior Lt. Brennan.



Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur via Wikipedia

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

An unusual form of evidence for reincarnation comes from the Jewish mystical tradition; the Kabbalah. Unlike Buddhism and Hinduism, Kabbalah does not teach that reincarnation (gilgul) occurs over the course of millions of years to millions of different sentient species. According to Kabbalah, only the souls of self conscious moral creatures like human beings reincarnate; and they reincarnate only when they have not fulfilled the purpose of their creation. Since Judaism is an optimistic religion, most Kabbalists teach that most people can accomplish their life’s purpose in one or two lifetimes. A few souls may take 3-5 lifetimes or more. The bright souls of great religious figures like Moses or Miriam can turn into dozens of sparks that reincarnate several times. The tragic souls of Jews whose children have been cut off from the Jewish people, either through persecution or conversion to another religion, will reincarnate as one of their no longer Jewish descendants. These souls will seek to return to the Jewish people, and a majority of people who end up converting (or reverting) to Judaism and the Jewish people have Jewish souls from one of their ancestors.

Every human on earth has 8 great grandparents and 16 great great grandparents. Each of these 24 individuals contributes an equal amount of genetic material to their descendants. Nevertheless, brothers or sisters who share the same 24 ancestors do not have identical genomes. Unless they are identical twins their physical, mental and personality traits always differ, sometimes greatly, from siblings who share the same physical genetic heritage. This difference is the result of the unique physical combination of genes that occurs at conception; and the unique soul that enters the body sometime during the second trimester.

Every year many hundreds of people find out that one or two of their 24 ancestors might have been Jewish.. For most of them this discovery is an interesting fact of little significance. For many of them it might be an embarrassment to be ignored. But for some of them it becomes a life changing discovery. They feel drawn to Jewish people and seek to learn about Jewish music, food, literature, culture and religion. They feel more and more attached in some mysterious way to the Holocaust and the struggle of Israel to live in peace in the Middle East. Many of these people eventually are led to become Jewish either by formal conversion or by informal reversion within Reform synagogues.

According to a mystical 14th century Jewish Kabbalistic teaching found in Sefer HaPliyah, those people who do feel this powerful attraction to Jewish things and Jewish people, have Jewish souls that are reincarnations ( a gilgul) of one of their own Jewish ancestors from 3-7 generations in the past. That explains why they react to the discovery of some Jewish heritage in such a unusual way. It also explains why some people who do not even know that they have Jewish ancestors follow a similar path; and only discover a Jewish ancestor years after they have returned to the Jewish people.

The Hebrew word for reincarnation is gilgul which means recycling. Many people are born with new souls who are here for the first time. Others have a soul that has lived on this planet before.Many people do not reincarnate after their life on this earth is over. Most people who end up becoming Jewish, especially now, after the Jewish people have experienced several generations of assimilation, marriage to non-Jews, hiding from anti-semitism and outright genocide, are descendants of people whose children, in one way or another, have been cut off from the Jewish People. Among their non-Jewish descendants a few will inherit a Jewish soul that will seek to return to the Jewish people.

If you think you might have an ancestor who was Jewish, but no one in your family seems to know, you can use a introspective personality and character test to give you some hints.

1- Do you like to ask questions especially about religion? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t question it.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child. You prayed to God the father more easily than Jesus, the son of God, even though you were told to pray to Jesus. You never could believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

3- On first learning of the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than your friends or other members of your family. You feel some sense of connection with the Jewish struggle to defend Israel.

4- You have an attraction to Jewish people, or to Judaism and Jewish culture. You have always been more  open to people who were culturally, nationally or religiously different from your own family, than your friends or class mates.

If you answer yes to three of these four items you probably have Jewish ancestors. Many, but not all, people who answer yes to all four items will be interested in learning more about their Jewish roots. If you become very interested in studying Judaism you might have a Jewish soul. According to Jewish mystical teachings (Kabbalah), many (not all) people reincarnate after they die. This is especially true for Jews who died and had no Jewish children who survived them (Sefer HaPliyah). Their souls reincarnate in one of their non-Jewish descendants who is drawn to: Jewish things, Jewish people and Judaism.

If the following item also applies to you, you certainly have a Jewish soul.

5- When you start to learn about Judaism: the ideas and values seem reasonable to you; the traditions and heritage are very attractive to you; and the non-Jews around you, and you yourself, are surprised that you slowly come to feel that you are coming home.

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