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In a nutshell, the Arizal says (Shaar Gilgulim Ch. 16) we are reincarnated in order that every Jew gets a chance to experience all 613 mitzvot as a chiyuv (personal obligation) at least once. My question is, how many reincarnations would that take, minimum, and which category of Jew would each of those incarnations be? Show your work :)

The framing of "reincarnations" is not the point, I am actually just interested in the theory of minimum Jewish categories required to be mechuyav in all the Mitzvot

E.g. we would need both a Yisrael and a Cohen reincarnation. What else? Can it really be 4 people (Asarah Perakim L'Ramchal 10:3)? If not, what's the minimum? Clever/efficient combinations should be utilised, of course.

Note:

  • Entire life is taken into account, so no need for separate gilgulim (reincarnations) for parents and children etc.
  • People required to assist the hypothetical gilgul are not included in the count. This is not practical - it is theoretical, therefore
  • Leave matzav (practical circumstance) out of this. Doesn't matter if some mitzvot have never actually been l'maaseh (practically available to abstain/perform), all we care about is if the gilgul is theoretically mechuyav, and leave the practicals, such as Temple standing, etc. to Hashem
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  • In the same vein, the Mishna in Makkot 21b tells us how one could break 8 commandments with a simple gesture. Mar 6, 2023 at 17:42
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    This should be a movie! (Well it's actually closer to reality) A little off track of your question, but in this scenario The Mitzvah Dream Team have to help other actual Gilguilim to fulfill all the Mitzvos for Moshiach to come, but the Yetzer Harah is hell-bent on stopping the mitzvah dream team.
    – larry909
    Mar 5 at 10:09
  • I can award 500 bounty on this, and will do if an answer seems to genuinely make a good case. It would be the bare minimum, as this is not at all a small matter to go through! So, I won't put a time-limit on the bounty, and won't award it right away when an answer is given.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 3 at 20:17
  • Bounties are time-limited and use it or lose it once announced Apr 3 at 21:16
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    Here's how bounties work: judaism.stackexchange.com/help/bounty . There's nothing wrong with saying you'll bounty in the future if there's a good answer. I recommend not making a neder of it.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 4 at 12:44

1 Answer 1

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I will start off by saying that to have the max number of mitzvot packed into one gilgul would be one heck of a roller coaster ride. You go from being a normal citizen to being the king to having been a nazir or will be a nazir, while controlling your urge to rip the collar of the garment of the High priest to not eating a pig sandwich to performing yibbum......you get it the point.

Also, your wife and you a 50-50 of one soul.

Almost all of the 613 mitzvoth can be done if you are a Kohen. So the least common denominator is being a Kohen.

Hey, so like, to figure out how many times someone might need to be reincarnated to do all 613 Mitzvot in Judaism, there's a lot to think about. The Mitzvot are split into different types, like stuff you're supposed to do (Mitzvot Aseh) and stuff you're not supposed to do (Mitzvot Lo Ta'aseh). Who has to do what depends on things like if you're a guy or a girl, or what your role is in the Jewish community.

In Judaism, some Mitzvot only apply to certain people based on their gender, status, or where they live. Reincarnation, according to Kabbalistic ideas, might mean coming back to fix Mitzvot you missed before.

Not everyone has to do all 613 Mitzvot all the time. Some are only for special situations, like when there was a Temple, or for specific roles like being a king or a priest.

Kabbalistic teachings talk about souls coming back in different lives to fix stuff they missed. But they don't really say exactly how many times you'd need to come back to do all the Mitzvot perfectly.

It's tricky to guess how many times someone would need to be reincarnated to do all the Mitzvot. The idea isn't just about ticking off a checklist—it's about growing spiritually and doing the right thing in different situations across lifetimes.

To answer this, we can think about different kinds of Jews and what Mitzvot they need to do:

Kohen: Some Mitzvot are just for priests (Kohanim) who served in the Temple. One life as a Kohen would cover those.

Levite: Levites also had specific jobs in the Temple. One life as a Levite could cover those Mitzvot.

Jewish Man (Yisrael): Men have their own Mitzvot, like praying, studying Torah, and certain laws. One life as a Jewish man would cover those.

Jewish Woman (Yisraelit): Women have different Mitzvot, like family purity and lighting candles. One life as a Jewish woman would cover those.

King of Israel: Kings had their own special Mitzvot for leading the country. One life as a king would cover those.

Judge or Sanhedrin Member: These guys had Mitzvot about legal stuff and running the courts.

Prophet: Prophets had their own Mitzvot related to prophecy.

Resident of Israel: Some Mitzvot are for people living in Israel, like certain holidays and laws. One life as an Israel resident would cover those.

Individual in Exile: Mitzvot for Jews living outside Israel, like special prayers. One life as an exile would cover those.

Person with Disabilities: Mitzvot about caring for others, including those with disabilities.

So, you could say it might take at least 10 different lives to cover all the Mitzvot, each time being a different kind of Jew. Some teachings suggest it could take as few as 4 people to cover everything, but it's way more complicated in real life.

Hope that helps explain a bit about the idea of reincarnation and Mitzvot!

To be definetly continued…

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    AI is very good at coding, but any time I tried to get it to help me with a halachic or hashkafic question, I've found it to be very shoddy. For many reasons, one of which is it's always just a fluffy summary, rather than a serious analysis. This does seem to be much better than average, but I think it's still not allowed on SA, even MY
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 5 at 8:36
  • Doesn't matter if it is AI or not. What matters is the final answer, and a little feedback from electronic assistants. Get on the wagon before it leaves. What do you see AI in my post. Apr 7 at 3:33
  • Are women not obligated to pray? Is lighting candles one of the 613 (or just for women)? Which of the 613 mitzvot apply just in exile? Which only to disabled people? This answer is full of inaccuracies, which is especially unhelpful for a question about enumeration. To fix that, you need to apply your own brain to the material, not just to dumbing down the writing.
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 7 at 5:24

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