The Bacterium and The Frenchman

french Bacteria

“On the one hand there is the simplicity, on the other the endless complexity of the process,” writes biologist Maitland Edey about the basic structure of DNA. “It is that magisterial power that commands our attention. Its four molecules are absurdly simple. They are not alive, but they can do things no molecules ever dreamed of… Lo, there emerges a bacterium, a flower, a fish, a Frenchman.” (Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution)

Last week’s portion was a lesson in the magical power of a simple structure to be expressed in numerous forms: The twelve Princes of the Tribes all offered the same structure, the same offering, but each expressed a related but different reality. Aaron envied their role in the consecration of the Altar. He, the Prince of the tribe of Levi, was not invited to participate. God comforted him by saying that his service was greater than theirs because he would prepare and kindle the Menorah.

The twelve offerings of the Princes were the bacterium, so to speak, the less magnificent expression of the spiritual DNA of God’s creation. Aaron’s gift was the Frenchman. Aaron used the same basic formula, but voila! His service was expressed as a Menorah giving light every day for more than a thousand years.

Why were the twelve Princes not envious of Aaron? I suspect that Aaron’s gift was not possible without the more basic work of the Princes, much as the bacterium had to be possible before there could be anything as wonderful as a Frenchman. In fact, the name of the portion, Behaalotecha, means, “As You Develop;” it was a challenge to Aaron to raise up the work of the Princes and transform it into a higher level of existence. It was the same challenge that Moses presented to his father-in-law, Yitro; “now is your opportunity to take all your development to a much higher level.” It was the same challenge that God presented to the Manna Eaters, the Children of Israel: “Are you ready to acknowledge how much you have evolved from the people I took out of Egypt and rise to unimaginable levels?”

Yitro refused the challenge, as did the Manna Eaters. Aaron did not. His Menorah continues to burn in our homes each year on Chanukah.

We, too, are constantly presented with the same challenge: Are we ready to evolve even further? Are we prepared to grow and soar to ever greater heights? Are we satisfied with remaining a bacterium compared to the Frenchman we each can become?

Torah does not only teach; it nurtures. It challenges us. It pushes us to continue to evolve as human beings and as servants of God. It provides us with the opportunity to “do things no molecules, or human beings, ever dreamed of.”

I cannot wait to see how far we will go. Join me.We invite you to join in All For The Best -Part Two: A Fee Webinar in memory of Chana bat Avraham. Register Here. You can hear Part One Here.

Favorites: The Futurist & Finding My Place In Torah.

We are happy to add our newest column Beyond Twelve Gates by Rabbi Zev Smason, and a special series of Words Can Heal by Rabbi Irwin Katsof.
Thank you & Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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