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From Dirt to Light
The modern world generates huge amounts of garbage, and the process of removing and disposing of it is extremely costly. Even after it is buried in landfills or burnt in incinerators, the garbage continues to pollute the environment. Toxic chemicals leach into the air, the soil and our drinking water, and are very difficult to remove.

This is why the dream of industrial engineers is to find a way to convert garbage into clean energy. This has been the passion of Joseph Longo for the past 20 years. He is the inventor of the Plasma Converter—a machine that operates at extremely high temperatures and can break down any type of garbage, from disposable diapers to chemical weapons to concrete. The machine uses a powerful current of electricity to completely pulverize the garbage into its elemental components. What’s most amazing is that the machine actually generates more electricity than it consumes. It also produces two useful byproducts—glass, and a synthetic gas composed of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be converted into a variety of fuels, including ethanol, natural gas and hydrogen. These are “clean fuels” which do not produce the harmful greenhouse gases that are exacting such a toll on our environment.

This is not merely recycling, but a fundamental change—clean energy created literally out of junk.

In Jewish tradition, the transformation of dirt to energy, or darkness to light, is a recurrent theme. An evil person becomes a penitent, a baal teshuvah; the animal becomes an offering in the Holy Temple; and all our basest instincts can be harnessed for positive purposes.

The “converter” is the human being, who uses the physicality of this world (air, water, food) in order to produce precious Divine commodities such as prayer, Torah study and acts of kindness. The teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidut compare this process to a candle (matter) that becomes converted to light (energy) through being burned. The evil is separated out and the matter is created anew, in a more refined and loftier form.

The ultimate “converter” is a righteous man, a tzadik, who through his efforts is able to make a transformation—to take all that is evil and disgusting and convert it to good. In previous generations only the most righteous were able to accomplish this. Today, however, when we stand on the threshold of Redemption, each of us can reach this level, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches.

This process has been active since the world was created, and in particular since the Torah was given. In the end (and very soon) we will stand before G-d, cleansed and purified, in a world that has likewise undergone purification (to an extent that the human eye cannot possibly assess). Then we will receive the ultimate reward, the purpose for which the world has been waiting since creation: the true and complete Redemption.


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