Genetic Backup

Mar 27th, 2010 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays
Startling Scientists, Plant Fixes Its Flawed Gene

In a startling discovery, geneticists at Purdue University say they have found plants the possess a corrected version of a defective gene inherited from both their parents, as if some handy backup copy with the right version had been made in the grandparents’ generation or earlier.

The finding implies that some organisms may contain a crytic backup copy of their genome that bypasses the usual mechanisims of heredity. Equally surprising, the cryptic gene appears not to be made of DNA, the standard hereditary material. – Nicholas Wade, New York Times, March 23, 2005

“From the beginning our ancestors were idol-worshippers, but now the Imnipresent has brought us close to His service.” (From the Haggadah) Which ancestors? I know that the paragraph continues to describe Terach, the father of Abraham, but my first reading, “m’techila,” was that the sentance refers to our ancestors in Egypt who were idol-worshippers. It doesn’t make sense to say that God brought Abraham close to His service if Abraham’s descendants became idol-worshippers!

Unless, that is, when God brought Abraham close to His service, meaning He offered Abraham the opportunity to serve God and Abraham chose well, a genetic backup was created that allowed our ancestors in Egypt to make the same choice when offered a chance to serve; i.e. the first Mitzvah given to the new nation, the Mitzvah to sanctify the New Moon. The nation leapt at the opportunity because the genetic backup was activated. That is why the paragraph immediately preceeding “From the beginning,” is “Perhaps we should have done this two weeks ago on Rosh Chodesh,” when our backups fired up and we grabbed the opportunity to serve God.

We are reminding ourselves and our children that we possess a powerful genetic backup system that works beyond DNA and that was implanted in us as part of the Exodus.

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