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Always Pure
by Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover

The leaves of the lotus plant are known for their unusual dirt-resistant properties. Despite growing in muddy swamps, the lotus leaves rise high above the water and sparkle with a dewy freshness, with no trace of the murky bogs from which they emerged. What accounts for the lotus's exceptional muck-fighting qualities?

Researchers have long been fascinated by the lotus, for if its secrets can be unraveled, they can be applied to produce dirt-resistant fibers and materials. The surface of the lotus is waxy, and covered with microscopic bumps. The waxy surface makes the plant hydrophobic, or resistant to water. The tiny bumps make the surface even more resistant to water; droplets are not absorbed at all, but rather sit atop the plant in tiny spheres. Dirt that touches the plant is easily washed off by rainwater, which rolls off the surface of the plant.

Scientists now use the "Lotus Effect" to make dirt-resistant coatings for dishes, clothing and even buildings. Fats, coffee, ketchup and wine stains roll off fabrics treated with a super hydrophobic coating. Paints have been designed for the outside of buildings that resist dirt and keep buildings looking fresh for years.

It would be equally pleasant if we could find a spiritual antidote to dirt. Who doesn't desire to be protected from insults, jealousy and other social stresses? Wouldn't we rather not be affected by the "shmutz" that others throw at us? This is particularly true when speaking of our children--it would be nice to send them out each day knowing that they'd be protected from the negative influences that surround them.

In truth, the antidote already exists. It's called Torah study. The Torah might not have a waxy coating or microscopic, dirt-resistant bumps. However, the Torah offers firm protection to the soul and helps us remain pure, above the fray and murkiness of this world.

In particular, this is said regarding study of the topics of Moshiach and Redemption. With the coming of Moshiach, we will be redeemed from the impurities of this world, which make up the exile. Studying about Moshiach and Redemption prepares us for this time and allows us to live with its benefits now.

When Moshiach comes, the whole concept of "cleaning" will no longer be relevant, because impurity will no longer exist. The Torah will not serve as a means of removing or protecting oneself from the impurity of the world. Rather, we will experience an ever-unfolding richness of depth and purity, as we go from level to level in our understanding of the Torah. The Torah, which has guided us during exile and taught us to distinguish good from evil, will continue to lead us towards the ultimate good and truth.

Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.



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