2015 Nobel Prize For Kabbalah Chemist – OpEd


The Nobel Prize for peacemakers is given to people or organizations that help repair, mend, heal and in general fix, some of the terrible tears that humans make in the fabric of our human society.

This mending process was called Tikun by Rabbi Isaac Luria, a 16th century Kabalist, whose philosophy of Timtsum; creation leading to Shevirat HaKalim -broken vessels and a fragmented universe which requires constant fixing, is a favorite of cosmologists.

Now more evidence of the ongoing universality of Shevirat HaKalim-nature’s breakdown and repair comes from a 2015 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry; Tomas Lindahl.

Scientists had long assumed that DNA was inherently stable. Lindahl’s work showed otherwise, revealing that there were hundreds to thousands of injuries to the genome everyday. Our genetic code was constantly being damaged and broken apart (Shevirat HaKalim).

While studying the properties of DNA, Lindahl found, somewhat to his surprise, that DNA is constantly damaged, and that cannot be avoided, so that means DNA has to be repaired all the time -Tikun.

Lindahl began looking for signs of the enzymes that were tasked with these repairs (Tikun). He discovered that the molecular machinery in the cell is hard at work constantly fixing the damage suffered by the delicate DNA molecule.

This Tikun mechanism, called base excision repair, is able to identify mistakes in the code, pull out the offending piece and replace it with the proper one.

Luria said the same thing about the cosmic world 450 years ago, although he was primarily interested in the moral aspects of our human world.

Here on Planet Earth, human beings, especially Jews, were the agents responsible for Tikun: the process of constantly doing Mitsvot (God’s commandments), which help to fix, mend, repair and heal the terrible fractures in our society’s world.

Luria’s basic system is: Shevirat HaKalim, which refers to why the entire world is, by the very nature of its original creation; cracked, fragmented and broken. This is not the result of Adam’s original sin (Paul).

Nor is it the result of human activities that are possible because of God’s gift of self conscious free will to humans. The rabbis of the Midrash had already decided that free will demanded both Yetzer HaTov and Yetzer HaRa—selfish rivalry and generous co-operation.

The whole of creation, according to Rabbi Isaac Luria, is fractured because it must be.

At the beginning of creation, only the total harmony of God’s willful presence existed. When God decided to create space-time and fill it with energy and matter, and to also evolve a multiplicity of conscious and self-conscious life forms; it was necessary to make room for these new tiny wills, who would be separate from their Creator’s will to exist.

Thus, God contracted the Divine willful presence-Tsimtsum into a point of singularity. Then God radiated and inflated ten Sefirot-vessels in space-time. Had each Sefirah emerged from the preceding Sefirah intact, the universe would have been perfect.

But as the universe cooled and expanded the ten vessels were each increasingly unable to contain the super powerful Divine energy. The lower vessels broke open, split asunder, and all the holy sparks that were within scattered as seeds; like the sand on the sea shore and the stars in the heavens.

Those holy sparks fell everywhere, in every star, on every planet, and in greater concentrations on those planets where self conscious life forms would evolve.

That is why creatures in the image of God evolved — to gather the holy sparks together, no matter where they are hidden, and elevate these holy sparks; and thus help mend the tears in the fabric of each inhabited world, and ultimately of creation itself.

Thus, when enough holy sparks have been gathered by each species created in God’s image, the broken vessels will be restored, and Tikun Olam, the repair of the world, awaited for so long, will finally be complete.

The goal and purpose of all intelligent creatures in our presently fractured universe is to restore by “the end of days” the unity and wholeness that existed before creation.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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