Volume 10 Number 40
                       Produced: Wed Dec  1 19:17:11 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Hidden Codes in the Torah  (2)
         [Shaya Karlinsky, Andy Goldfinger]
Hidden Codes Redux
         [Rick Turkel]


From: mljewish (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 93 19:12:09 -0500
Subject: Administrivia

This issue is fully devoted to the Codes in the Torah topic. I think we
have a good set of different views expressed here. As mentioned by one
of the posters, the authors of the paper at this point do not want the
preprint circulated, so that puts the same constraints on having a
serious discussion about the details of the work, as we have had for the
last few years. If it is correct that the paper has been accepted and is
scheduled to appear in about 10 months, then we may have more of a
discussion then. As long as things stay cool, I will not reject postings
just becouse they are on the Codes topic, but PLEASE, read and reread
your submission to make sure it has something positive to add to what
has already been said.

OK, this makes four for today, so it's time to call it quits. At this
point, the queue is almost entirely from Nov 30 and Dec 1, with about
40-45 postings in the queue. Be "speaking" with you tomorrow!

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Shaya Karlinsky <HCUWK@...>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1993 13:46 IST
Subject: Hidden Codes in the Torah 

In MJ 10/35, Mike Gerver writes on the Hidden codes in the Torah:
>I have a preprint of a paper "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the
>Book of Genesis" by Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav
>Rosenberg, which claims to show very statistically significant
>correlations between names and yahrzeit dates of gedolim (living
>between 800 and 1800 CE) based on letter sequences in sefer
>The claims are so completely contrary to my own long standing ideas
>about how the universe works that I would find it impossible to
>believe them without verifying them myself. Unless I can do it, it
>seems more probable to me that the claims are mistaken or

     It is certainly valid to want to verify their findings yourself.
But the "reasonableness" of the hypothesis should not be measured
against your ideas of "how the universe works" but rather against how
the TORAH works.  And for this I would like to share two sources I have
recently seen that make the occurence of these kinds of codes plausible.

     1.  The Ramchal in "Ma'amar Haikrim."  In discussing Rabbinical
decrees and prohibitions (as opposed to Torah ones), he comments on the
fact that our Rabbis searched out textual allusions in the Torah to
justify these Rabbinical laws.  He writes: "...(even for laws decreed by
the sages themselves) they did not refrain from considering such
allusions genuine... Such references were considered very much like
predictions of the future.  All is forseen by G-d, and therefore He
could allude (in the Torah) to even such (a later decree)."  (This is at
the end of the section "The Unwritten Torah," taken from Aryeh Kaplan's
translation in the volume "The Way of G-d", Feldheim Publishers, 1983.)

     2.  The Netziv in his introduction to Haamek Davar (section 3)
discusses why the Gemara (Nedarim 38) refers to the _entire_ Torah as a
"shira" (song or poem) when in fact only a couple of sections deserve
that title.  He writes (this is a free translation - I suggest seeing it
first-hand) that in a "shir" one can embed allusions that don't relate
directly to the content of the shir, something which can't be done in
normal verse.  For example, the author may embed his name in the first
letter of each line or stanza in a poem, something that is more
difficult in a regular story.  However, doing this requires the author
to occasionally contort his word choice to produce the desired results.
This happens countless times in the Torah.  Besides the "pshat"
(exegesis) of the verses, there are many hidden secrets and allusions
embedded in the word choice of the Torah, which is why the words
frequently appear imprecise.

     These sources were written 100-250 years before anyone thought
about the kinds of codes that are being discovered.  I think it gives
credence to the hypothesis of the codes, and should certainly make us
less cynical about their possible existence.
     Personally, I don't think it is healthy or stable for someone to
base their belief in G-d, Torah, and/or Judaism on the codes.  The
central role they (used to?) play in Discovery Seminars always made me
uncomfortable.  On the other hand, I have always been surprised by the
"knee-jerk" reaction of those who maintain that these "codes" couldn't
possibly be there, or could not have any siginificance if they were
there.  This reaction is what I read in Mike Gerver's posting.

>I discovered, to my surprise, that not everyone feels the a priori
>probability of this thing being true is as low as I feel it is. I
>have one friend who thinks it would not be that surprising if it
>were true, and does not think it really matters.
     If these codes are truly there, it seems intellectually dishonest
to belittle their significance, unless you can demonstrate similar
occurences in other types of texts.
     Many years ago, when these codes were first being discovered and
presented, I told Dr. Rips that along with them he needed to run similar
analyses of secular works, the new testament, etc., to verify that what
was happening in the Torah exceeded the probablility of "chance".  At
the time I was shown work done on the Samaritan bible, which deviates
from the Torah in only a small number of ways, yet in which the "key
words" they were searching for didn't come up more often than is
predicted by chance, while in the Torah the word combinations appeared
at a rate many times that of chance. (I don't remember the figures on
the predicted occurences vs. the observed ones, but the deviations were
VERY significant.)  But the study of alternative works needs to be much
more exhuastive.  MY intuition tells me that in fact the probablility of
these codes coming up by chance is VERY low.  But if Mike's friend can
DOCUMENT the higher probablility, this is also very important.  Just as
I would expect the proponents of the significance of the codes to show
that in general it does not happen randomly, I expect a critic to
demonstrate that it does.  Let's not have a double standard.
     The reaction that Mike expressed is one that I have been hearing
for a decade.  Yet I have neither seen nor heard of any serious
scholarship that refutes these claims, or -what in my opinion is more
important - shows that these kinds of things happen in all texts, even
given a large enough letter spacing, or a wide enough range of things
you are looking for.  While I wait to see the article on "Yahrtzeit"
codes, there have already been many other documented occurences of
seemingly prophetic allusions produced by equidistant letter spacings in
siginificant sections of the Torah.  The question is whether this can be
reproduced in other texts, where it would be presumed to be happening
"by chance".  If this is so, why don't the critics show this and lay the
discussion to rest.  Mike summed it up perfectly:
>If the claims being made are true, then this is extraordinarily
>important. If the claims are not true, then, in my opinion, the
>people promulgating them are playing a dangerous game and should be
     Let's find out which it is.

Shaya Karlinsky
Yeshivat Darche Noam / Shapell's
POB 35209 - Jerusalem, ISRAEL

From: Andy Goldfinger <andy_goldfinger@...>
Date: 30 Nov 1993 17:05:53 U
Subject: Hidden Codes in the Torah 

1.  I have lectured at Discovery seminars on the Torah Codes.  I have
also read the papers by the researchers: Rips, Witztum and Gans.

2.  We _DO NOT_ have any mesorah (authoritative tradition) that tells us
that material is encoded in the Torah in the way they seem to have
found.  Therefore, there is no obligation for anyone to believe that the
claimed results are correct.  What we do have is a very interesting and
improbable set of statistical results.  Could the researchers have made
an error?  Of course, but this is why the research is continuing!

3.  An independent researcher (Harold Gans) has replicated Rips and
Witztum's work using slightly different algorithms and completely
different computer code.

4.  Rips and Witztum have requested that copies of their papers _NOT_ be
distributed openly, until the papers have been published in a reputable
journal.  I would urge everyone to honor their request.

5.  I know that this if frustrating to all involved, but the journals
have been unusually slow in reaching publication decisions due to the
controversial nature of the work.  We do anticipate that publication
will take place in the near future.


From: <rmt51@...> (Rick Turkel)
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 93 15:51:48 EST
Subject: Hidden Codes Redux

In answer to yet another resurgence of discussion on the "Hidden Codes"
I feel the need to reiterate a position that I seem to share with a
large number of frum people with whom I've discussed this issue.

Let us set aside for the moment whether or not such information can
legitimately be extracted from the Torah text (I'm a chemist, not a
statistician, so much of the argument on that end is beyond my ken).
Even if someone _can_ squeeze this kind of stuff out of the Torah, what
does it prove?  For me, absolutely nothing.  If you massage any text
long enough you're bound to come up with some correlations like these,
but they don't prove a thing.  They're cute, all right, but 'cute'
doesn't take you very far now, does it?  If this were all that my faith
rested on, woe unto me!  And what happens when someone else with too
much time on his/her hands cranks away some more and comes up with a
similar 'proof' that, e.g., the Jews expelled the Spaniards from Spain
rather than the other way around?  Will you buy that, too?

I had an email exchange with someone at the beginning of November who
claimed to have taught "Codes" for Aish HaTorah.  He laid out a logical
progression which he claimed proved the existence of God from the
existence of these codes.  His first step was that the existence of the
codes implied that someone placed them there.  That's the part I don't
buy - I think it's quite possible to run almost any lengthy text against
a computer program and find some interesting correlations of this type,
but so what?  Can we assume any particular relationship between HKB"H
and J.R.R. Tolkien if we try this with _The Lord of the Rings_ and find
some correlations?  I guess I fall into the same category quoted by Mike
Gerver in m.j 10#35:

    I have one friend who thinks it would not be that surprising if it
    were true, and does not think it really matters.

I'm a little surprised that it's only one friend, Mike - most of my frum
friends with whom I've discussed this feel the same way.  This, of
course, makes all of the discussion on the methodology of the codes
research exquisitely moot.

Rick Turkel         (___  ____  _  _  _  _  _     _  ___   _   _ _  ___
(<rmt51@...>)         )    |   |  \  )  |/ \     |    |   |   \_)    |
Rich or poor,          /     |  _| __)/   | __)    | ___|_  |  _( \    |
it's good to have money.            Ko rano rani,  |  u jamu pada.


End of Volume 10 Issue 40