Frankly Electrifying

One of the great delights of sharing life with my wife is her voracious reading appetite.  She tells me about some books, she summarizes others and occasionally recommends one for me to read.  This she did recently with Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley in the early 19th century.

In her introduction, Shelley contemplates the ‘nature of the principle of life’ and suggests that ‘galvanism’ might reanimate a corpse.  About 30 years before Frankenstein was published, Luigi Galvani had discovered that electricity stimulated a muscle to contract.  In chapter five, Frankenstein, “…collected the instruments of life…” so that he might infuse “…a spark of being into the lifeless thing…”  In Boris Karloff’s 1931 movie classic, a bolt of lightning animated the creature.

While the Torah conceals the nature of the ‘breath of life’ that God breathed into Adam (Genesis 2:7), today we understand that our bodies function by means of electrical currents traveling through cellular protein ion channels.  The beating of our hearts; the warm sunlight we feel upon our arms; our ability to see; all this and everything else functions because of tiny electrical currents coursing through our bodies.

Walk across a carpet then touch a metal doorknob.  The resulting crackle and spark prove our body’s ability to convey electricity.

The Hebrew word used today to mean electricity is CHaSH-MaL found in Ezekiel 1:4 and 1:27 which ancient Jewish wisdom explains as a powerful force that God put into the world that can be activated or switched off.  Electricity’s power began to be understood in the mid-18th century with the invention of the Leyden Jar, a glass jar lined inside and out with tin foil. An electrical charge can be built up on the inside foil which eventually jumps to the outer foil with a crackle and a spark.

If you know that both gold and tin foil are excellent conductors of energy and that wood and glass are not, the Leyden jar sounds very much like this:

They shall make an ark of acacia wood…coat it with pure gold, inside and outside…
(Exodus 25:10-11)

In this Thought Tool I am not going to discuss why God wanted the Ark of the Covenant to possess these electrical properties. I do want to explain that electricity was not invented while God’s attention was distracted.  Electricity is part of God’s blueprint of creation and His plan for life.

Indeed, electricity can restore life.  In the medical emergency of a person’s heart ceasing to function effectively, a small electrical shock is administered by a defibrillator to stimulate the heart back to regular rhythm.

Scripture records two parallel events of a prophet restoring the dead son of his landlady back to life. In I Kings 17:21, Elijah prayed then stretched himself out over the boy three times, and Elisha prayed then lay upon the boy in II Kings 4:34.

The Bible conceals the miracles’ details and I am not claiming that the prophets’ bodies emulated the paddles of a portable defibrillator but I am emphasizing that the enormous wonders of human life depend upon a tiny invisible force called electricity that God put into His creation.

Similarly, the amazing structures of our families and of systems that allow us to earn a living all depend on many tiny and invisible spiritual forces.  Just like electricity, these small spiritual forces need to be generated appropriately, conducted down correct channels and insulated from others.  They include forces like gratitude, faith, discipline, vision and communication.  Just like electricity they have disproportionate consequence.

24 thoughts on “Frankly Electrifying”

  1. I was always told that, although identical twins share the exact DNA, they still each have different finger prints which would be considered “material” as well as spiritual differences. I can’t say I know this is true but I found it profound to think on. I love these opportunities to be able to feel a little closer to you as I admire you greatly! Thank you for being available to us “little guys”.

    1. Lisa, we actually discuss identical twins and fingerprints in one of our Genesis Journey CDs. And we reject the concept of “little guys,” certainly for those who share our lives and work.

  2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Yes, Brian,
    That’s quite correct and I think it quite likely since we know that Mary Shelley knew quite a bit about Jewish history in Europe.

  3. There’s a legend that Mary Shelley was inspired to write Frankstein by Rabbi Loew of Prague and how he supposedly created a golem.

  4. I’ve listen to “Gathering Storm” many times… It is vastly entertaining on top of being essentially important in understanding how subtly corruption erodes our souls, and how heroically “simple” it is to stand your moral ground…
    Thank you, Rabbi Lapin for your teachings – they are a lifeline for many of us!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Luda-
      For listening to the Gathering Storm (on our website store at ). And for putting your finger on its central message.
      Means so much to me to know that my work means so much to you

  5. Do you actually believe literally in Noah’s ark. I don’t argue that there was not a flood, but it is clear that it was not from rain but from the melting of glaciers in Russia. There is a similar fable about a Mesopotamian saving himself and animals that the Hebrews would have learned in captivity. Isn’t more likely that the story of Noah was written about the time of Malachi; hence, the metaphor that the window of heaven opened?

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      My dear Joseph,
      it is not at all “clear” that melting Russian glaciers caused a flood. In fact it is not even ‘clear’ that Russia ever had melting glaciers. The point is that nothing which happened a very long time ago is ‘clear’.
      You can say that you believe something happened. You can even say many people/scientists/plumbers/proctologists believe that something happened. But it makes no sense to say “it is clear”. Because it is not.
      I don’t believe the Noah was written about the time of Malachi. I also don’t believe that it is a ‘story’ which may point at the heart of our disagreement.
      Nonetheless, you believe what you want to believe and I believe what I want to believe and I still greatly appreciate you reading my work and taking the time to write to me.

  6. ”prophets’ bodies emulated the paddles of a portable defibrillator”

    This made my day! Thank you for an inspiring post!

    I listen to Gospel music whenever I can. Like when I ride my bike in the Dutch wind and rain. I praise God for His might and am in awe if how He gives us these showers of rain and wind. And I do feel such calm snd happiness. I arrive at my destination in a peaceful state. This makes even more sense after reading this post.

    I wish you alot of blessings back.

      1. Dear sir Lapin,

        Your Afrikaans/Dutch just made my day, dank u hartelijk :)! Ik wens u eensgelijks het beste,


  7. At the risk of disagreeing with our Honored Rabbi, the ‘spark’ God gave Adam was certainly not electricity.
    Electricity existed all over Earth, and the Universe. The one thing that did not was the Human Soul/Spirit, which is not of the physical Creation, but from above.
    ‘Human’ animals were certainly living (physically) and running around parts of the Earth–we find their bones, graves, tools, art, clothes, villages, and droppings. But physical life is not at all Soul-Life. Adam probably had heartbeat, and all other normal physical functions, yet until the Spirit of God breathed a new kind of Life into him,,, Adam was pretty much like all the other animals of the planet. Afterwards, Adam was truly alive, and could speak with, and commune with, our Creator.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      I don’t disagree with you, CK,
      If twins are DNA clones of one another, the difference between them is real and palpable but is spiritual in nature not materialistic. I think that is what you were saying.

      1. That is exactly right! About the clones, that is. I’m amazed that is not more widely understood, now that we are very close to being able to do just that.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      No worries, Al,
      I often make mistakes and try to acknowledge and correct them as quickly as possible.

  8. Your comments today are especially electrifying, and I do believe that the life force that God has embued within each of us animating the soul is every bit a part of the drama that unfolds in Hospital ER’s and maternity wards every moment of every day. My advice is to avoid walking across a carpet, bending over and kissing your wife on a cold winter’s night, the experience though adding a little spark to a marriage can be quite shocking.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Mark-
      Beautifully said. Sometimes static; sometimes high tension, generated by potential difference, both marriage and electricity share many similarities.

  9. Rabbi Daniel,
    I write this as concern. From your writing, I recall Daniel 11.38 KJV, the phrase,”God of forces.” Elo-he’ M’Ouzem. (My Heb. transliteration)
    Seen at times, is where Adonai Elohim is just “E”, to some, as in Einstein’s calculation. E=mc2
    Incalculable, how the voice of HaShem made micro sub-atomics, etc. And, while He has the power, He is not just a tap source as some might say. Can I say,We are not to diminish, “the glory?”

    Thank you

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Al–
      You lost me brother! I am a simple guy; I like steak and fries, I like V-8 car engines, and I like short words and one-idea-sentences.
      But that’s just me.

  10. Why has TCT recently assigned varied viewing times to Ancient Jewish Wisdom? This is not “kosher!”

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Tom–
      Sometimes God is to blame when things like pork isn’t kosher. Sometimes I am to blame when things I mess up in Mrs. Lapin’s kitchen end up not kosher. Other times, TCT television is to blame for unkosher things like moving the schedule around for our TV show Ancient Jewish Wisdom. Best thing to do, and I hope you do, is write to them. Find the contact info at

  11. Rabbi Lapin, I’m surprised at you. “Frankenstein” is a profound novel, in many ways far ahead of its time. Unfortunately I have the impression you missed its main point, which is a dire warning against the dangers, the sins, of hubris and arrogance.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Mark–
      Unfortunately I have the impression you missed the point that my Thought Tool was not a review of “Frankenstein.” Joking aside, I don’t agree with you about the main point of the novel. I believe that what its author was getting at (given the story of her own life). is the deep human need for connection and love. That is what I think is the main point. But that’s just my opinion, you may be right.

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