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    3. Photoautotrophism and the Future of Humanity
    Table of Contents


    The process of photosynthesis makes use of three components: light, water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). There are two primary types of photoautotrophs in nature: (1) terrestrial plants, and (2) aquatic plants and microorganisms, such as single-cell protists and certain algae.

    In the case of terrestrial plants, light is absorbed in the leaf, water through the roots, and carbon dioxide through small pores on the leaf called stomata. The majority of plants absorb carbon dioxide by opening their stomata during daylight hours. But there are plants, like cacti and others surviving in parched, dry locations, which open their stomata at night so as to avoid losing too much water during the hot daylight hours.


    Above, we referred to the fact that Mashiah (the prototype of the future Righteous One) is symbolically referred to as a 'plant'. The prophet Ezekiel, in his vision of the stream that is destined to flow forth from the Holy Temple in the future-to-come (latidlavo, l'atid lavo), makes reference as well to messianic vegetation (Ezekiel 47:12):

    And along the stream, on both of its banks, shall sprout every kind of food tree; its leaf shall not wither nor its fruit fail; it shall bring forth new fruit every month, for its waters issue forth from the sanctuary; and its fruit shall be for food and its leaf for a remedy.

    Our sages have commented on the expression And its leaf for a remedy as follows (BT Sanhedrin 100a):

    R. Isaac b. Abudimi and R. Hisda [argued in this regard]: One said [that the leaf will remedy] by untying one's upper orifice [i.e., the mouth] while the other said [that it will remedy] by untying one's lower orifice. It has also been stated: Hizkiyah said [that it will remedy] by untying the mouth of the mute, and Bar Kapara said [that it will remedy] by untying the orifice of barrenness.

    Hence, the role of 'plants' (i.e. the Righteous) in the future-to-come will be to 'untie' (or liberate) the mouth. The intention behind this teaching is that the Righteous-especially the Mashiah-will teach mankind how to become 'photoautotrophic' by obtaining physical nourishment directly (and exclusively) from the revelation of G-d's light in the world.


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