A. “Gilgul” is a Kabbalistic term for reincarnated souls, who have been to this world before in different bodies and returned to this world in new bodies to continue their mission. It’s an abstract esoteric concept, but one that troubled this questioner and her sense of personal identity.

I’m not a maven on “Gilgul” but here’s one way to look at it:

Think of newlyweds, starting life’s journey together, anew. It’s a brand new life. Even though you are marrying your spouse, and not his parents, there’s no denying that in some subtle and subconscious ways your in-laws (and your own parents, too) are part of your marriage. The way they raised their son your husband; their values, choices, mannerisms and style will inevitably seep into your life (for better and for worse). No one starts life as a clean slate at marriage. We bring our youth along with us. Yet, it is still a new life, it is your own life, its your marriage and up to the two of you (and only you two!) to make whatever you want of it.

Similar could be said perhaps about recycled souls. Of course it is your life, your choices, your experiences – you are not living someone else’s life. But according to the mystical teaching of Gilgul, we carry somewhere within us, deep in our spiritual DNA, the strengths and weaknesses of past souls lives on earth.