Volume 10 Number 59
                       Produced: Sun Dec 12 21:20:39 1993

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Ask the Rav
         [Zishe Waxman]
Hidden Codes in the Tanach
         [Najman Kahana]
Hidden Codes in the Torah (2)
         [Frank Silbermann, Mike Gerver]
Kosher in Honolulu
         [Harry Weiss]
Minyans in Toledo, Louisville
         [James Diamond]
Seoul & Tokyo
         [Pinchus Laufer]
Tampa-St Petersburg
         [Meir Loewenberg]
Tzedaka organization list
         [Michael Gitt]


From: <waxman@...> (Zishe Waxman)
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 93 22:51:09 -0500
Subject: Re: Ask the Rav

In a recent posting Ezra Tepper suggested that "asking a rabbi in this
view is basically an insurance policy for the world to come".

This suggests an intersting pshat in "v' salachta l' avineinu, ki rav
hu", i.e.  forgive us our sins, for he is our Rav.

Zishe Waxman


From: Najman Kahana <NAJMAN%<HADASSAH@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 93 17:50 JST
Subject: RE: Hidden Codes in the Tanach

Another interesting coincidence was brought to my attention today.
Megilat Ester: chapter 3, pasuk 13 :
"And the books were sent by hand of the runners to all the king's nations
to kill and destroy all the Jews, from young to old, women and children
on the 13th day of the 12th month which is the month of Adar ..."
Needless to say, the date of 13-dec is the start of the "Peace Process".



From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 13:10:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Hidden Codes in the Torah

In Vol.10 #53 Marc Shapiro suggests that improbable codes
are not that improbable, if you look for them hard enough:

>	At the beginning of this century there were a number
>	of books written to show that Bacon wrote Shakespeare.
>	These books made use of the most fantastic codes
>	throughout Shakespeare's writings.  Anyone looking
>	at them will be struck by the sheer improbability
>	that they were placed there unintentionally.  In fact,
>	most would say that it is impossible for this to have occurred.
>	And yet it did.  Bacon is not the writer of Shakespeare
>	despite the hundreds of secret codes which say he is.

Until now I have ignored such work, not having the background in
probability and statistics to do a proper evaluation.  I suspect that
before long someone will prove that the patterns in the Torah found are
not statistically significant; but, if the codes prove impossible to
reasonably attribute to coincidence, then the _whole world_ (not just
Jews) will be forced to acknowlege the supremacy of our faith, as is
predicted in the Alenu (if we're not instead persecuted by a new
generation of gentile Karaites).

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA

From: <GERVER@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 3:51:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Hidden Codes in the Torah

This is in reply to Rick Turkel's and Shaya Karlinsky's comments in
v10n40 on my "hidden codes" posting in v10n35. Rick makes the same
assumption that most people (including myself) make before reading
Witztum's paper, that the authors have massaged the text until they get
something to come out, but that it is not statistically significant, and
one could do the same thing with any text. In fact, the whole point of
the paper is to show that it is statistically significant, that there is
only a 1.e-17 chance they would get these results by chance. They may be
mistaken, but if the results they describe are real, then you would
certainly not expect to be able to get it from any text.

Regarding Shaya Karlinsky's comments, I do not have any serious
disagreements with any of Shaya's views, but he has misunderstood my
views, probably my own fault for not expressing them clearly, so I would
like to clarify what I intended to say.

1. Shaya discusses statements of the Ramchal,
>"...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).

and the Netziv,
>Besides the "pshat" (exegesis) of the verses, there are many hidden
>secrets and allusions embedded in the word choice of the Torah

and argues that
>it gives credence to the hypothesis of the codes, and should certainly
>make us less cynical about their possible existence.

I have no objection to the idea that the Torah contains allusions to
future rabbinic decrees and other events, only to the idea that it is
possible to _prove_ statistically that these allusions couldn't have
been due to chance.  Nothing in the quotes from the Ramchal and the
Netziv pertains to this point. If this were widely known and believed,
it would make it impossible for people to exercise their free will to
disregard the Torah, which I always thought was the reason why G-d
doesn't make his appearance in the world more obvious.

2. Shaya quotes my statement 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

and then he says

>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...if Mike's friend can DOCUMENT the
>higher probability, this is also very important.

My friend was _not_ suggesting that correlations of this sort are not
statistically significant, or that they would occur in other texts.
(Rick Turkel also misconstrued my description of my friend's attitude in
the same way.) He is perfectly willing to believe that G-d intentionally
causes gedolim to die preferentially on certain dates that can be
derived from the Torah. He just doesn't think this it is very surprising
that G-d would do this, and claims it doesn't make his emunah any
stronger than it already is. And I was emphatically _disagreeing_ with
my friend's attitude when I described it. I certainly did not intend to
belittle the significance of this phenomenon if it is true, quite the

3. Shaya says

>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 did not mean to imply that the codes "couldn't possibly be there" and
certainly did not mean to imply that they "could not have any
significance if they were there." That last quote is just about 180
degrees away from what I feel. But I plead guilty to a "knee-jerk"
reaction that they are very unlikely to be there, for the reasons given
above, and I think that such a metaphorical "knee-jerk" is a sign of
good health, just as a literal knee-jerk reflex is a sign of good

4. Shaya says

>..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 reason the critics don't prove that the codes are not there is that
it requires quite a bit of effort, and until Witztum et al's paper, I am
not sure there was anything solid the critics could grab on to. Once the
paper has been published, it should be possible for anyone with the
programming ability and computing resources and time to either confirm
or disprove it.  My posting was intended to suggest ways to reduce the
effort needed to do that.

Since I only got half a dozen private responses to my posting, rather
than a large fraction of the mail-jewish subscribers as I had feared, I
will again invite anyone seriously interested in trying to duplicate
Witztum et al's results to contact me. I will post any results we obtain
to mail-jewish, so please do not clog up my mailbox if you are just idly
curious. I am interested only in people who are willing to put in
serious hours writing code. The idea, as I said in my earlier posting,
is to write a program that is clearly enough written that any competent
programmer can read it over and be convinced that it doesn't have any
swindles, and which uses an algorithm that is efficient enough that it
can be run in reasonable time on a PC. The program, together with the
data, would be available online to anyone who wants it, and it will thus
be possible for anyone to confirm or refute Witztum et al's claims,
without having to rely on haskamas from tenured professors of
statistics, and on the honesty of the authors and of anyone who might
have helped them. (It was nice to hear from Andy Goldfinger that Harold
Gans has independently duplicated the results of Witztum et al, but this
does not answer the need for a _publicly_ available means for anyone to
duplicate it, which is the only way I can see to overcome the extreme
skepticism that anyone ought to have.) I have done some thinking about
the search algorithm, and estimate that the whole thing will take a few
billion operations, about equally divided between searching for the
equidistant letter sequences for each of the names and dates, and
calculating the correlation between the sequences for each name and the
corresponding date.

By the way, I don't see why it is necessary to try it with many other
texts, as Shaya suggests. Its seems that one or two other texts (as
Witztum et al have done) is enough to eliminate the possibility that
there is an error in their method of analysis. If it turned out to work
with the Koran or the New Testament, that certainly wouldn't explain
away the phenomenon, or show that it could be due to chance. In fact,
someone told me he heard that people are already making claims that
phenomena like this occur in the Koran. And those people undoubtedly
have _lots_ more funds available to "mekarev" Jews than Aish Hatorah
does. Which should confirm Shaya's feeling that it is not "healthy or
stable for someone to base their belief ...in Judaism on the codes."

Mike Gerver, <gerver@...>


From: Harry Weiss <73132.2266@...>
Date: 06 Dec 93 21:37:44 EST
Subject: Kosher in Honolulu

The following information is the latest I have on Honolulu.  There is a
Chabad in Honolulu.  The last time I was there, they did not have a
permanent facility.  Rabbi Krasnjansky is the Sholiach.  His number is
735-8161.  There are no Kosher restaurants in Hawaii.  The Foodland at
1460 S. Britannia (I think it is just off Kapiolani) has a large
selection of Kosher items.  All of the supermarkets have the general
market kosher items (tuna, cracker, bagel, etc) that can be found in the
mainland.  There is a vegetarian facility called the Natural Deli at
2525 S. King which is a restaurant and store.  The store has many items
with Hechshers.  I plan on being in Honolulu next week and if I find
something new I will post it.



From: James Diamond <diamond@...>
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 93 00:57:15 -0500
Subject: Minyans in Toledo, Louisville

I have relatives who will be in Toledo, Ohio this Friday morning, Dec.
17th and in Louisville, KY. on Sunday morning, Dec. 19th.  They would
like info on the availability of minyanim for shaharit on those
mornings, as well as time and place.

Please reply directly to: Gary Diamond - <diamonga@...>

--Jim Diamond


From: <plaufer@...> (Pinchus Laufer)
Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1993 12:58:34
Subject: Seoul & Tokyo

Any info on Kosher food and other facilities for Seoul and Tokyo?  I've
been told that it pays to speng Shabbas in Seoul and then proceed to
Japan.  All reliable info is appreciated.

 Time frame: 2 to 3 weeks

Thank You,


From: <F46022@...> (Meir Loewenberg)
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 93 15:04 O
Subject: Tampa-St Petersburg

Any information about Orthodox institutions in the Tampa/St Petersburg
area will be appreciated.  Are there any (reasonably priced) hotels
withing walking distance of synagogue?


From: <gitt@...> (Michael Gitt)
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 93 07:46:28 -0500
Subject: Tzedaka organization list

    I would like to respond to two postings in v10n29 regarding the
tzedaka list that I asked people for their input on.  First, regarding
Freda Birnbaum's comment that it might not be fair to list any
organization in the negative column, I did consider not reporting these,
and in fact several organizations that people commented negatively about
are not listed because the problems were with quantity of mailings,
duplications on their mailing lists which they refused to change, etc.
I didn't list these because this doesn't specifically mean that the
organization is not actually doing what they claim.  The two
organizations listed as negative have more serious problems according to
the two respondents.  If anyone is interested in the specific reasons, I
can forward their email addresses a addresses and let them get the
information from the source.

    Regarding Steve Roth's comment that the list is dependent on value
judgements between organizations, let me repeat the purpose for my
original posting.  I was not asking the mail-jewish readership which
organizations were the best to support; rather which organizations were
really involved in the charitable work they claimed to be.  Once I knew
that the organization was doing what it claimed, I (and others reading
the list) can make my own judgement on which I would rather support.  I
even noted at the end of my posting in v10n26 that "organizations that
lack an asterisk may in fact be worthwhile; they just have not been
personally recommended by anyone who responded to my orighinal posting"
As to whether we are "interested or qualified to comment on various
organizations here", my answer is why not?  Once again, I am only
seeking to identify organizations that are truly involved in the work
they are claiming.

    I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.  Happy Chanuka!

Michael Gitt


End of Volume 10 Issue 59