We have been raised to believe that bacteria are our enemies. This statement is not completely true. There are dangerous bacteria that can cause serious illness and infection, but a great many bacteria are benign and even helpful to our bodies. Therefore, microbiologists are now taking an entirely new approach in dealing with infectious bacteria. Rather than prescribing antibiotics, which kill all forms of bacteria residing in the body, they are working on engineering benign bacteria that will themselves fight the disease-bearing forms.
What the microbiologists do is inject the bacteria with DNA instructions to produce proteins that impair growth, prevent the development of ulcers or destroy virulent bacteria. An engineered bacteria that has had its “bad” genes neutralized can even be used as a vaccine against the same bacteria in un-engineered form. Engineered bacteria have also been used against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Due to their explosive growth--a doubling of their population every eight minutes--they are able to completely engulf a less resistant bacterial population and destroy them.
Organisms that have gone through genetic change and have been transformed from deadly enemies to benign friends who destroy our enemies are a foretaste of the ultimate elimination of evil. Evil will not be eradicated by force; rather, the power inherent in it will be transformed and channeled to good. The Talmud likens this phenomenon to an ax, the handle of which is made of the same wood that it chops. The power of evil will be used as a tool for its own destruction.
One of the sources of evil in its present form in this world is the primordial serpent. The serpent caused the first sin, the sin of the Tree of Knowledge, and as a result brought death to the world. Moshiach is the one who will finally correct the damage brought about by the serpent. Interestingly, the numerical value of the Hebrew word Moshiach, 358, is the same as the numerical value of the word Nachash, serpent. This fact is an allusion to the concept that like the ax handle made of wood, Moshiach will repair that which the serpent represents through harnessing the serpent’s own powers.
This process teaches us that in truth much of what appears to us as evil actually contains within it powerful Divine energies, which for various reasons are not revealed properly. Therefore, if we will escape from all that appears to be evil, or destroy it, it is possible that we will forfeit an opportunity to harness a source of tremendous good. This good will be uncovered with the revelation of Moshiach. Then, the positive aspects hidden within evil will be released, and the remaining evil, upon losing its source of Divine sustenance, will evaporate and cease to exist.
Prof. Yirmiyahu Branover is chairman of the Center of Magnetohydrodynamic Studies and Training at Ben-Gurion University.