Plague of the First Born Revisited Via Genetic Testing

January 15, 2019

4 min read

According to Jewish sources, part of the Messianic process will include a process of clarifying the true identities of individuals and, in fact, this is already happening through the never-before-seen phenomenon of do-it-yourself DNA testing.

Genetics is a burgeoning branch of science, both in the laboratory and out. A recent article in MIT Technology review declared that “2017 was the year consumer DNA testing blew up.” The article reported that last year, more than 12 million people delved into their family history with home kits, a service that was unavailable just five years ago.

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, believes that this recent advance in genetic testing reflects the very beginnings of a process that will come to fruition when the Messiah arrives.

“Identity is an essential part of the Messianic process,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News. “In the Bible, a complete genealogy is always used to introduce a person. Today, many people don’t even remember who their own grandparents were or any details about them.”

Rabbi Berger cited a Mishnah (Eduyot 8:1) as a source.

Rabbi Yehoshua said: I have a tradition from Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai who heard from his teacher who in turn from his teacher, who taught it as a law handed down from Moshe at Sinai that Elijah will not come [before the Messiah] to declare who is defiled, or pure, to distance some [them], or bring [others] near. Rather, he will distance those who forced their way in and bring near those who were distanced via force.

“Reestablishing true identity is one of the functions the Messiah will perform at the end of days,” Rabbi  Berger said, citing a law from the Mishnah Torah written by Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, the foremost Torah authority of the 12th century known by the acronym Rambam.

During the Era of King Messiah, once his kingdom has been established and all Jews have gathered around him, the entire [nation’s] line of descent will be established on the basis of his words, through the Holy Spirit of prophecy that will rest upon him. (Mishnah Torah, Hilchot Malachim 12:3)

Rabbi Berger speculated that the new technology foreshadows the actions of the Messiah that will follow.

“The Zohar stated that in the last 1,000 years, all of the wisdom that is contained in creation will be revealed,” Rabbi Berger said. “But all of this wisdom will be embodied in the Messiah himself.”

Jewish genealogical roots are, in fact, already beginning to be revealed in an unexpected magnitude. A recent genetic study surveying the DNA of Latin Americans indicated that there may currently be over 150 million Latinos with Jewish ancestry.

Rabbi Michael Freund has been searching for the lost people of Israel for the last 12 years as the head of Shavei Israel. He has succeeded in finding people with Jewish roots in India, China, Brazil, and even people who grew up in the wake of the Holocaust believing they were Christians. He sees his work very much as part of the Messianic process of the Ingathering of the Exiles.

“The ingathering of the exiles is explicitly described as part of the Messiah and it is happening right now,” Rabbi Freund said to Breaking Israel News. “The growing popularity of these tests is accelerating the process. Genetic testing is a gift that God gave to medical science but it is also an incredible gift for helping to locate and uncover hidden Jews and Jewish ancestry as part of the ingathering of the exiles.”

Rabbi Freund noted that the rabbinical courts have considered using genetic testing to determine Jewish identity and the Israeli government has discussed the applicability of DNA testing to the Law of Return and Israeli citizenship. He emphasized, though, that despite being an invaluable tool in clarifying hidden aspects of a person’s identity, for practical purposes, genetic testing is limited.

“There is a difference between personal identity and official status,” Rabbi Freund said. “DNA testing can assign identity but it cannot determine status.”

Rabbi Freund suggested that the end of days process of clarifying identities may have some surprising results. He based this on a verse in Isaiah.

And from them likewise I will take some to be levitical Kohanim, said Hashem. Isaiah 66:21

Freund cited Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, the noted medieval French rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Bible known by the acronym Rashi.

“Rashi says that not only will the non-Jews bring the Jews back from the exile but that many of them will also return,” he said. “Even to the point where Kohanim (priest) who were inadvertently hidden among the non-Jews will also be revealed.”

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a noted expert on Jewish traditions concerning the Messiah, perceived widespread DNA testing as “a preliminary process, something we can do in the meantime.”

“The process of birur (clarification) is essential to the end of days,” Winston told Breaking Israel News. “This is seen in how people are becoming more extreme in their views. This is God saying, ‘Show me who you really are’. This is why people who object to the Messiah want to hide their identity and blur the boundaries: national, gender, and personal. They want to say we are all the same. In the end, no one will be able to hide anything about themselves.”

Knowing the truth, the whole truth, can sometimes be painful. A recent article in the Daily Mail described a surge in sales of do-it-yourself home paternity kits. Kits are getting cheaper and they can be bought online with the companies promising 100 percent accurate next-day results. In Britain, the man named on the child’s birth certificate, or who is officially charged with parental responsibility can perform the test without permission from either the mother or child. A swab can even be done while the child is asleep. In some states in the U.S., a paternity test must be court-ordered and performed by a physician.

AlphaBiolabs, the leading British home test supplier, told the Daily Mail that up to 30,000 paternity tests are being performed in Britain every year and that the figures are rising by 10 percent every year.

“Of these, around 20 percent of men will learn they are not the father of the child they are testing,”  David Thomas, AlphaBiolabs, told the Daily Mail. He added that in some regions the figure is higher, where it can be as much as 30 percent.

Rabbi Berger saw this an aspect of the redemption that was witnessed in the Exodus from Egypt. He noted that this technology-aided revelation of widespread infidelity closely resembles what was seen in Egypt just prior to the Exodus of the Hebrews. He noted that according to Jewish tradition, all of the plagues of Egypt would be revisited before the Messiah.

“During the Plague of the Death of the Firstborn, there were households with one father and one mother in which several, or all of the children would die,” Rabbi Berger explained. “That was because they were all firstborn…to different fathers.”

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