The Heart

Because the body is made out of living organisms, living tissues, it requires nutrients. The blood constantly goes through the circulatory system bringing oxygen, bringing nutrients, bringing hormones to the various tissues, to the various cells in the body. At the center of it all is the heart. The heart, about the size of your fist, is the pump that pumps out the blood all day, sending it through the arteries, through the capillaries back through the veins. And all day long the blood is circulated by this beating, beating, beating heart in the center of your chest.
But if you’d like to understand the wonders of the human body, you have to appreciate that the heart works very, very hard. It weighs about eight or ten ounces and all day long it’s pumping. If you were to take a tennis ball and squeeze it, squeeze it, squeeze it, that’s the type of work. It’s producing an output. They say that the heart creates enough energy to drive a truck 20 miles in a single day. But here’s the point: if you’d like to really understand the wonder of the heart, try a little exercise. Take your hand and open it fully, and then clench it into a fist. Then open it again, and clench it, open it and clench it, open it and clench it, and do that repeatedly, let’s say 100 times, 200 times — try it for five minutes.
Well, I’d like to make a little guarantee. After about 60 seconds, maybe 120 seconds at most, you’re going to stop, because the muscle fatigues. Because you see, your forearm may have 48 muscles, and those muscles are strong, but they sure can’t last beat after beat after beat. Yet your heart, in the middle of your chest, whether you think about it or not, beats away, 60 times a minute, hour after hour. In an average day it will beat 100,000 times. Forty million times a year, beat after beat after beat. Why is that? Because when it was constructed it was made out of cardiac tissue, a very unique type of smooth muscle that doesn’t fatigue anywhere near as quickly as the strong muscles of my forearm and it was designed to do a type of work that it could work all day every day.
But if you’d like to really understand some of the wonder of the heart, let me share with you one observation. I remember as a child when we went to camp, swimming was a big part of the day. In fact, twice a day was an activity of swimming. In the afternoon we had free swim where you could just go and do whatever you wanted and the morning was instructional swim. Each small group of boys would be allocated to a particular lifeguard and the lifeguard would teach us the strokes and various parts of swimming.
When we got better at it, I remember one summer it was time to learn the crawl stroke. But the crawl is a bit of a complicated stroke, so it was done piece by piece. First we learned how to kick. Keep your legs straight, not knees stiff, but legs straight, and begin working on the kick. Okay, good. Once we got that down then it was time to learn the arm stroke. Hands extended, bring it back close to the body, bring it back in a coordinated method. Fine, once we practiced that and got good at it, then it was time to learn the breathing. Of course the breathing had to be very much timed, and we took a long time to do that. And then the most difficult part of the job was put it all together. And in fact I remember clearly we practiced, we tried, and if a fellow was coordinated and really focused his time well, after six weeks, maybe eight weeks, he could get the crawl stroke down to a pretty effective, efficient stroke.
If you’d like to understand the wonder of G-d’s creation, let’s look at the heart for a minute. You see, the heart is not beating once a second. Really what’s happening is there are three separate motions that happen every second. You see, first the atrium, the top part of the lungs, relaxes, so the blood enters that atrium. Then the valves close. Then the valves on the bottom open up so that the blood enters into the ventricles, into the pumping part. Then those valves close and when the valves are fully closed then the bottom part squeezes the blood out. If there’s a timing error there, the heart won’t work. If the valves are still open, instead of the blood going out to the body it goes back to the upper atrium. If when the blood comes from the atrium into the bottom they don’t close it also doesn’t work. It’s a perfect coordination, three steps: blood in, valves open, blood down, valves close, blood out. One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, 60 times a minute, minute after minute, hour after hour.
Your heart didn’t go to school. Your heart didn’t go to summer camp to learn the coordination. Yet if you run, your heart beats much faster, yet always coordinated, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. If you’re under stress your heart is going to pump more vigorously; you need more oxygen, more nutrients on a cellular level. But it’s always going to do what it does in that exact beat, one, two, three, one, two, three. When you’re sleeping at night, you’re not there, but your heart is still beating, on time, every time, exactly as it was designed.
And when you study this and you understand that the heart begins beating at about four weeks after conception, in the womb the heart begins beating, and it will be until you leave this earth, every day, day after day, because if for but one day your heart stops, you aren’t.
And understanding the wisdom of this pump, and understanding the sophistication is but part of understanding the wisdom that G-d implanted into the world. By studying it I get to see some of the majesty and the greatness of my Creator.