In 1869, the Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher discovered the existence of an acid with hereditary qualities in the nuclei of cells, launching nearly a century’s worth of scientific research – until 1953, when James Watson and Frances Crick unveiled the first double-helix model of what we now call Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. DNA is a molecular set of instructions, or code, that provides the blueprint used in the creation of all living organisms.
The ancient book of kabbalistic wisdom, the Zohar, speaks of the universe being created and run by a cosmic code made up of sequences of Hebrew letters and the energy they represent. Like DNA, this code is a blueprint for the creation and maintenance of life: DNA code is written in four letters and the arrangement of our code determines our characteristics; the kabbalistic Tetragrammaton is written in four letters and, according to the Zohar, the arrangement of these letters determines our characteristics as well.
English Zohar Beresheet A Verse 14
כְּגַוְונָא דְּטַעֲמֵי דִּמְנַגְנֵי, וּבְנִגּוּנָא דִילְהוֹן אָזְלִין אַבַּתְרַיְיהוּ אַתְוָון וְנִקּוּדֵי, וּמִתְנַעְנְעָן אַבַּתְרַיְיהוּ כְּחַיָּילִין בָּתַר מַלְכֵיהוֹן. גּוּפָא אַתְוָון וְרוּחָא נְקוּדֵי, כָּלְהוֹ נְטָלוּ בְּמַטְלָנֵיהוֹן בָּתַר טַעֲמֵי וְקַיְימֵי בְּקִיּוֹמַיְיהוּ. כַּד נִגּוּנָא דְּטַעֲמֵי נָטֵיל, נָטְלֵי אַתְוָון וְנִקּוּדֵי אַבַּתְרַיְיהוּ כַּד אִיהוּ פָּסִיק, אִינוּן לָא נָטְלִין וְקַיְימֵי בְּקִיּוּמַיְיהוּ.
English translation: "And they who are wise shall shine" (Daniel 12:3), like the cantillation marks that the letters and the vowels follow. They move along like soldiers following their king. The letters are the body and the vowels are the aspect of their spirit, and they all follow their intonations and attain their existence. When the tune of the cantillation marks travels along, the letters and vowels march in step with it. When the tune stops, they stop as well.
Here we see the Zohar referencing the use of Hebrew letters in the creation of the world.
English Zohar Beresheet B Verse 435
תָּא חֲזֵי, נֹחַ כַּד אִתְיְילִיד, קָרוֹן לֵיהּ עַל שְׁמָא דִּנְחָמָה. וְלֶהֱוֵי שְׁמָא גָרִים. אֲבָל קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא לָאו הָכֵי. נֹחַ בְּהִפּוּךְ אָתְוָון, חֵן. כד"א וְנֹחַ מָצָא חֵן. אָמַר רָבִּי יוֹסֵי, חֵן, הַיְינוּ נֹחַ. בְּצַדִּיקַיָיא, שְׁמֵיהוֹן גָּרִים לְטַב. בְּחַיָּיבַיָא, שְׁמֵיהוֹן גָּרִים לְבִישׁ. בְּנֹחַ, כְּתִיב וְנֹחַ מָצָא חֵן בְּעֵינֵי ה'. בְּעֵר בְּכוֹר יְהוּדָה, אִתְהַפָּכוּ אָתְוֵוי לְבִישׁ, עֵר רָע. רַע בְּעֵינֵי ה'.
English translation: Come and behold: when Noah was born, he was given that name, because it connoted consolation (Heb. nechamah), indicating that he would bring consolation. Yet, the Holy One, blessed be He, did not agree with them. He brought the Flood upon them, because He wanted them to correct their ways and repent. The letters of Noah's name (Nun and Chet), when written in reverse order, form the word chen, which means favor. This is as it was written: "Noah found favor in the eyes of Hashem" (Genesis 6:8). Rabbi Yosi said that Chen is Noah for they are spelled with the same letters. The names of the righteous in any sequence cause beneficence. The names of the wicked in any sequence cause them harm. Of Noah it was said, "Noah found favor (Heb. chen) in the eyes of Hashem," because the letters were reversed for good. But of Er, the son of Judah, the letters were reversed for lack of merit and harm, as it is written: "And Er (Ayin Resh) was evil (Heb. ra, Resh Ayin) in the eyes of Hashem" (Genesis 38:7).
And here, the Zohar is saying that the specific sequence of letters in one’s name determines one’s qualities. If a person’s name changes, whether by adding or subtracting letters from the Four Letter Tetragrammaton, it changes a person’s nature. Just as with DNA, if the code is altered in any way, a person’s characteristics will be altered accordingly.
The ancient book of wisdom that is the Zohar contains numerous examples of how our world operates – written at a time when this knowledge was not common place. In fact, many recent scientific discoveries are contained in the Zohar. To learn more, please visit Zohar.com.