Chukat 2021 Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron                                                           בס"ד

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The Copper Snake

The copper snake in this parsha has become a symbol of medicine since our parsha says that when the people looked at the snake, they were cured of the snake-bites that they were bitten. However, our Sages say that “it is not the copper snake that brings life our death,” but rather the goal of the snake was that when Israel would look up to the snake, they would also look to the Heavens, remember God, and it was the faith in God, realizing that they were bitten in God’s retribution for their evil ways, that caused them to be cured. Last week we began to discuss part of the “Divine plan” evident in the amino acids, present in the DNA and RNA. It is clear to all those involved with medicine that a mastery of the DNA and RNA, and their genetic coding apparent in the amino acids and their related components, is a crucial step in the advancement of medicine. However, a day will come when the Divine meaning of all these, i.e “looking to the Heavens where the copper snake is lifted,” will be even more meaningful, paving the way for scientific and medical discoveries inspired through the Divine vision.

Last week we mentioned that, in order to keep matters very brief and understandable by the common reader, we are only providing one explanation for each link between the Kabbalah and science, even though these matters have been thought through many other considerations and reasons. Also, note that the correlation, mentioned here, between C, H, N, and O and four letters of Hashem’s name may not be in all cases, for there are more than a hundred more elements in science. Rather, in the specific context of the amino acids these elements are the most dominant, and we may draw such a correlation in this context.

The common elements of the amino acids are Carbon – C, Nitrogen – N, Oxygen – O, and Hydrogen – H. Last week we linked C to the last heh of Hashem’s name, N to the vav, O to the first heh, and H to the yod. We explained these links very briefly last week. Using this analysis, we can attempt to decipher the genetic code in Divine terms. A DNA nucleotide is made of a molecule of sugar, a molecule of phosphoric acid, and a molecule called a base. The bases are the “letters” that spell out the genetic code. In DNA, the code letters are A, T, G, and C, which stand for the chemicals adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine, respectively. In base pairing, adenine always pairs with thymine, and guanine always pairs with cytosine. In RNA the same is true, however Uracil is substituted instead of Thymine. From a Kabbalistic viewpoint, the concept of “pairing” here clearly evokes a “masculine-feminine” relationship found in the letters of the Tetragrammaton, where yod [“masculine”] pairs with the first [“feminine”] heh. In turn, the vav [“masculine”] “pairs” with the last [“feminine”] heh. However, which of the pairs is which? We may say, that for first, we should identify which of the amino acids are “masculine” and which are “feminine.” G and A are Purines, a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound that consists of two rings of N(itrogen), versus C and T (or its substitute U- Uracil in RNA) which are pyrimidines that consist of only one ring of N. Based on our previous analysis that N corresponds to the vav, associated according to the Kabbalists with the sefira of Da’at we receive a clue. The Arizal explains that in the masculine aspect there are two elements of Da’at, whereas in the the feminine aspect there is only one. Therefore, we may say that G and A are “masculine” aspects, whereas C, T, and U are “feminine.” Based on our analysis of the elements in the amino acids. We may say that G, carrying the elements C5H5N5O, corresponds to the letter yod, since it is located in the “upper sphere” of the Tetrgrammaton, associated according to the Arizal with a greater dominance of judgment, associated according to our analysis with O – the first heh, which represents the attribute of judgment. However, adenine is C5H5N5, missing the O element, since the vav begins the “lower sphere” where the attribute of kindness is more prevalent, explaining why the O – representing judgment – is omitted. However, Adenine’s pair, T or U does have O, and not only that but its O is doubled, suggesting the attribute of the final heh-malchut especially associated with judgment. Actually, according to the Kabbalah, the vav aspect “gives” over its aspects of judgment to the final heh-malcut aspect. Going back to the Cytosine, it is comprised of C4H5N3O, carrying less Carbon than its pair G. This seems to reflect what the Kabbalists describe that the first heh-bina has a nature of “aloofness” from the lower heh which we associated with Carbon. However, there is a more essential connection between the yod, i.e Guanine, and the last heh, Carbon, as it contains five Carbons instead of four as in Cytosine, as the verse says “Hashem founded the earth”, referring to malchut-earth, “through wisdom – hochma” associated with the yod. This also provides us with a clue why Uracil in RNA comes in place of Thymine found in DNA. The “united” double-stranded DNA, carrying the core of genetic code passed down through the generations seems to represent the side of Hochma, which according to the Kabbalists is responsible for the “unification” of matter. The single-stranded RNA, which “translates” the genetic code to “build” proteins (and more), seems to be parallel to Bina, which does not have the same unifying nature as Hochma. Also, Bina is described as “translating” the aspects of Hochma to “build” the lower worlds. Bina is a feminine aspect, and this may explain why Uracil has less Carbon and Hydrogen, which we associated with the yod-masculine aspect. Obviously, there are a lot more matters to discuss on this topic, but we will have to stop here so our discussion will not be too tedious for the average reader (if you would like to discuss these matters more at length, please contact [email protected]). Hebron means unity, and through the inspiration of Hebron, we can unite worlds together, Torah and science, Kabbalah and medicine, and much more!

Real Stories from the Holy Land:
“I parked my car near the Old City in Jerusalem, and then I needed to rush by cab to Mount Herzel several miles away. However, I then realized that I had no money for the cab. Just then, I met someone else who was motioning to hitchhike. I asked him if he could agree that I would take him to his destination when I get back to my car, and meanwhile, he would pay for the cab I needed to take urgently. He agreed…” Y.A.B