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Food Energy

What you eat can affect your genes. This is the finding of a recent study published in the journal Cell Research. The study showed that the genetic material of the plant food that we eat can reach the control centers of our cells and influence the process of gene expression. For example, researchers have shown that microRNAs (a type of genetic material) found in rice can alter the activity of the cell body of the one who ate the rice. It binds to receptors that regulate the disposal of non-LDL, the “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

The discovery that plant genetic molecules play a role in controlling human physiology emphasizes that the body is a more complex ecosystem than we realized. These findings may also deepen our understanding of the process by which genetic change occurring in one species can stimulate change in another species. For example, we are already familiar with the finding that excessive consumption of soy can lead to precocious puberty in humans.

Jewish sources present a clear example that plants, and food in general, can change us on a genetic level: Adam, the first man, tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, despite G-d’s specific warning to avoid it (“For on the day you will eat of it – you will surely die”). From that moment, far-reaching and irreversible changes were wrought in the human body, which remain an integral part of the human experience to this day. By eating of the fruit, Adam became filled with a sense of his own independent existence, as a being apart from G-d. This awareness filled him with shame and fear and motivated him to hide, to clothe his body. That was when he first became susceptible to biological death, a “gift” he bequeathed to his descendants, and to all life on earth.

In genetics there are still many unsolved mysteries, and the same is true of the Torah. For thousands of years we await the fulfillment of the vision of our prophets. One such vision describes a meal that will be eaten at the beginning of the era of Moshiach, after which death will be eradicated forever. This meal has a host of spiritual meanings, but primarily it will be a physical feast of both plant and animal food. Moshiach will take an active part in this meal, and those who eat from it will be safe from death forever.

Then we will enter an era when we will no longer need to eat to live. The force of life will no longer be packaged in organic food molecules; we will be sustained directly by spiritual forces. At the same time we will be graced with a spiritual awareness such we have never experienced before, and merit to see G-d directly, face to face.



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