Reprinted for life
by Rabbi Yaacov Chaiton
I understand that the idea of the dead returning to life in the messianic age is central to Judaism but don't you think it's a bit far-fetched? I find it hard to imagine those same bodies that died hundreds of years ago once again walking the earth?
Yes, the belief in the resurrection of the dead - when the soul will return to once again vivify the very same body it once possessed is central to our religion; in fact it is one of the thirteen principles of faith. That said, it ultimately comes down to the belief that the same G-d who somehow created us will once again recreate us.
Yet, it would probably be fair to say that today we are able to have a better understanding in this seeming impossibility than ever before:
One of the most exciting developments in medical science today is the 3D organ printer. This is basically how it works: A patient needs an organ. A machine scans a 3D image of that organ and sends it to a "printer". Cells from the patient are then fed into the "printer" to serve as the "ink". The "printer" then creates the new organ layer by layer. Needless to say the organ is perfectly compatible with the patient - it is a perfect replica of his/her existing organ. While this science is still in its development stages, huge progress in this field has taken place over the past few months. This innovation promises to revolutionize medicine.
According to our ancient tradition there is a tiny bone at the top of the spine, the size of a lentil, known as the "luz bone ". This tiny bone is indestructible and it's from it that G-d will reconstruct the entire body when the time comes. G-d will so-to-say use the DNA contained in this bone as His "ink" to "reprint" the entire body.
The layer by layer printing of organs is also not too different to the way that G-d tells of the future resurrection. In the words of the prophet Ezekiel - "Thus said the Lord God unto these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord." While science of today may not yet be able to obtain DNA from a bone that has been in the earth for hundreds of years, that shouldn't be too much of a problem for the inventor of DNA Himself.
It goes without saying that re-animating the "reprinted" body is something that only G-d can do. No scientist can begin to imagine such a thing. May we merit to see it all happen speedily.