Building Blocks – Not for Kids Only

Jews around the world recently finished an annual cycle of reading the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) and immediately began reading again from the beginning of Genesis.  Since so many of us met the “stories” in Genesis as children, we sometimes neglect to view the book with adult eyes.  Ancient Jewish wisdom analyzes each letter and word, revealing treasure that we can only uncover with a mature viewpoint. I’d like to share one example. 

In the beginning, God created 92 basic elements including the well-known hydrogen, oxygen, gold, silver, copper, platinum, uranium, calcium and lead.  The remaining 83 include lesser known elements such as titanium, tellurium, caesium and cadmium.

While it is true that the periodic table today contains over 100 elements, only the first 92 occur naturally.  The others must be artificially made and are generally unstable.  They undergo nuclear rearrangement and radioactive decay shortly after being synthesized.

In other words, the entire universe is made with only 92 basic building blocks we call atoms.  Everything that we use and which makes life possible and wonderful comes about through combining the atomic building blocks into compound molecules.

Thus, water, air, steel, wood, plastic, wool, silk, potatoes and marshmallows are all mixtures of those 92 building blocks.  Even the table salt that our bodies need and which adds flavor to French-fries is a mixture of sodium and chlorine.

Obviously, true science never conflicts with the Torah and many of the secrets that God embedded in His book reveal this.  If you’ve been learning with me for a while, you know that every Hebrew letter has a numerical value. The Hebrew word for nature, HaTevah, has the identical numerical configuration (86) as the ineffable name of God, the Creator, that appears in Genesis 1:1 Elokim (86).  The lesson is that to understand God, we must try to understand His creation.

The account of Creation runs from Genesis 1:1 all the way to Genesis 2:3.  Those 34 verses contain exactly 92 separate discrete Hebrew words.  That’s right!  The building blocks of Creation number exactly the same as the building blocks used to describe it.  92 words to describe 92 elements!  Please tell me that you’re utterly astounded by God and His Book.  I know that I am.

We can’t leave it there. We must ask what valuable lesson God is imparting to us. The lesson is clear.  God created a world for connection.  He created atoms to connect into molecules and molecules to connect into the things we need. He created words to connect into verses, musical notes to connect into songs, and people to connect with one another for fulfillment and happiness.  Every socio-medical study arrives at the same conclusion.  People with strong connections to other people – friends, family, worship community and business associates – live healthier and happier lives. From the first word of Genesis, God is urging us to absorb the reality of a world of connection. 

28 thoughts on “Building Blocks – Not for Kids Only”

  1. I Love to know God more, and you have been opening my eyes for sometime now. I tried to get a download of one of your cds but my iPad doesn’t accept it.
    Thanks John.

  2. Wow. This is very revealing. Am amazed. I will share this with my 13 year old son who has been looking at the periodic table in school.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Hello Christine–
      Just make sure that he is old enough and mature enough because otherwise you can inoculate him against appreciating this wonder a little later in his life. It’s sort of like a classical music enthusiast, passionately introducing his 13 year old child to the music of Schoenberg, Stravinsky and Shostakovich followed up by Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von Erde. Not that I am comparing our Thought Tool to the cacophonous sounds of the listed composers but they sure could turn a kid off classical music for life! Also, if your 13 year-old attends a GIC (government indoctrination camp) formerly known as public school, the hostility to any notion of transcendent meaning to the periodic table would be anathema.
      Anyhow, good luck and let us know how it went.

  3. This is great, and I have to say that I once affirmed the same, but as an error. Technetium (element 43 on the periodic table) is purely man-made. That reduces the count from 91 to 90. Now I would offer that the Oklo reactor (the world’s first sustained nuclear reactor) in Africa probably produced technetium, but it has long since decayed away. On the other hand, Neptunium and Plutonium (elements 92 and 93) do occur naturally in the rock pitchblende and would have naturally been formed in the same Oklo reactor. So now, we’re at 92.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Dane-
      Thanks so much for writing–you confirm my conviction that we enjoy a remarkably erudite demographic among our readership. As a general rule, I note that any descriptions of events that are claimed to have occured two billion years ago are extremely speculative. Exactly what did happen at Oklo in West Africa nearly two billion years ago or didn’t are nothing more than guesses; sometimes wishful ones. Second, Uranium, the heaviest naturally occurring element is actually #92, not #91. I think small amounts of Tc in the form of 97 and 99 isotopes are found naturally but of course because of its relatively short half-life, it does sort of come and go. Which is why we can only guess that perhaps when we encounter the products of technetium decay, maybe technetium was once there. At any rate, though not in large quantities, technetium can be found on earth.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      As I’ve often written, Benjamin,
      No conflict between the Creator and His world. And Science is just the name we give to the enterprise of understanding the patterns by means of which He created it all.

  4. Thanks Rabbi for giving me a subject for the term paper I was just thinking about, basic elements with God as the Scientist.

  5. Remarkable teaching Rabbi. As always, the more we learn of our Father and His infinite knowledge and wisdom, the more astounded we become. Yearning and seeking to really know Him awakens us to the revelation that He is exactly who and what He says He is… “He is the light of the world.”

  6. Fakaosilea Finu

    I would love to know more about the book of Genesis and that’s why I order the ”genesis journey” series today. Thank you for imparting your knowledge and wisdom.

  7. Umaefulam Ugochukwu N.

    Not long ago i discover Rabbi Daniel Lapin, coming across you is reshaping my life and walk with God. I hope to follow you for a long long time. Thanks.
    Umaefulam Ugochukwu N.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Umaefulam Ugochukwu–
      I think I recognize your last name as from Africa, the continent upon which I was born so I particularly appreciated your kind letter as I draw delight from having very many readers and listeners in Africa. I think I will soon have to make a visit back–I’ve been gone a very long time. Meanwhile, I enjoy knowing that Susan’s and my work is bringing you closer to God. I also hope that you follow us for a long, long time!

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