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    1. Oxygen (Respiration), Food (Digestion)

    Table of Contents

    In Science

    In the process of photosynthesis, plants convert light (solar energy) into carbohydrates. There are three end-products from this process: The first two, oxygen and food (carbohydrates), are formed directly by the process itself. The third, fuel (specifically, various forms of fossil fuel), is a long-term byproduct of carbohydrates and will be discussed in a separate section.

    The oxygen produced through photosynthesis is an important source of the oxygen necessary for human respiration. The carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis form the foundation of nature's food chain; without them complex life forms, like man, would be incapable of surviving. Since the Industrial Revolution, the third end-product-assorted fuels (mainly carbon and petroleum)-has become the most important source of inorganic energy available to the human race, a resource without which modern life (as presently lived) could not thrive.

    In Kabbalah

    We will now contemplate, through the prism of the Torah's inner wisdom, the spiritual significance of photosynthesis producing oxygen for breathing and food for digestion. The Kabbalah teaches that the human respiratory system (and respiration in general) corresponds to the sefirah of Crown (keter, keter), whereas the digestive system (and digestion in general) corresponds to the sefirah of Kingdom (malhut., malhut). The entire process of photosynthesis is, as its name implies, driven by light (visible electromagnetic radiation) emitted by the sun day after day, hour after hour. It is therefore understood that sunlight is responsible for the continued functioning here on earth of all life support systems-from respiration (corresponding to Crown, highest of the sefirot) to digestion (corresponding to Kingdom, the last), and all systems in between.

    The survival of all creation is hence framed by these two sefirot, as alluded to by the numerical equivalence of the two phrases ketermalhut (keter malhut, 1116) and breshisbara (bereishit bara, In the beginning, He created…, 1116), both equal to 1116.

    With the discovery of photosynthesis, it became evident that light is the physical foundation of all creation (as is equally apparent from the Bible's identification of light as the first specific element of creation that G-d called into being-"And G-d said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light"). Hence we can add the numerical value of Light (or., or, 207) to that of ketermalhut(1116), giving: 1323. The average value of these three words ketermalhutor(1323, divided by 3) is 441, the numerical value of Truth (emes, emet, 441 or 212).

    Since the process of photosynthesis is responsible for the formation of the physical systems that correspond to the ten sefirot, we will now ponder the relationship between the light driving that process and the names of the sefirot "produced" by it.

    Altogether, the names of the sefirot from Crown to Kingdom [including Knowledge (das, Da'at)] contain 42 letters:42letters. Our Sages tell us that the Name with which the universe was created was the 42-letter Name, of which it is said (Zohar II 234a; III 256b) :

    "this is the gate to G-d, the righteous will come through it" (Psalms 118:20) - it is the name of 42 letters, with which the higher and the lower were created.

    There is a chapter in Pardes Rimonim [by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522-1570), known by his acronym Ramak] entitled Is the Keter synonymous with Ein-Sof? (i.e. the Infinite One). After deliberating the matter, the Ramak concludes that the sefirah of Crown is not equivalent to the Ein-Sof, the latter representing an incomparably higher level of Divine being.

    The numerical equivalence pointed out in Kabbalah between the words or.(207) and the Infinite (ainsof., ein sof, 207) behooves us, in line with the Ramak's above conclusion, to envision the word or. as hovering above the names of the other sefirot, thereby bringing the total number of letters to 45. The number 45 is the numerical value of Man (adam., Adam), the allusion being that light is necessary in order to sustain the constellation of sefirot metaphorically associated with the human form [as alluded to in the verse (Ecclesiastes 3:11): "also the world did He place in their heart"-"man is a microcosm"]. And as we will see further on, man's perfection in the future-to-come will hinge on his direct use of light.

    The number 45 is also the 9th triangular number , designated as triangle9. As such, the word or.gif complements the names of the sefirot both substantively (as was explained above) and aesthetically, by allowing us to order the total 45 letters in a triangular geometric form, like so:


    Upon contemplating the above triangle, we discover that the sum of its letters is equal to 3549, or 3 · 7 · 13 · 13 as factored into prime numbers. Furthermore, we discover that the numerical value of the letters of or. through gevura. is equal to 1729, or triangle.jpg 12x1013 · 19, while the value of the remaining letters-tiferet.gif through malhut.gif 38x12 equal to 1820, or triangle.jpg 12x1013 · 20. The letters of the two words yisodmalhut.gif (composing the bottom line of the triangle) are equal to 242. The numerical value of the triangle's first four lines, containing the words orketerchochma.gif , is 302; while its central axis, composed of the letters center.jpg 51x11, is equal to 496, the numerical value of malhut.gif itself!


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