Volume 15 Number 10
                       Produced: Mon Aug 29 23:52:31 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Meru Foundation Presentation at AOJS
         [Stan Tenen]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Aug 1994 11:34:18 -0700
Subject: Meru Foundation Presentation at AOJS

First I would like to thank Sam Juni for posting his report on the Meru 
presentation for AOJS last week.  There are some details that need 
correction and I would like to add some comments and responses that 
might help to explain and frame what it is we think we are doing.

The following comments are listed in approximately the order in which 
they appear in Sam Juni's message of 23 August 1994.

My name is Stan Tenen.  I don't know where the name "Steve" came from.

We (Meru Foundation) are very open to competent and caring, Torah and 
science conscious persons investigating our work as they see fit.  We 
are very much opposed to superficial and new-age treatments of our work 
when they are not Torah and science based.  (Meru's work has been taken 
by a person who has been described to me as similar to David Koresh who 
has been presenting his own very sick anti-Torah new-age versions of it.  
This has cost us much support and credibility.  Those who may have had 
contact with this bogus material will readily understand why we 
distinguish between competent and caring, Torah and science based work 
by others - which we actively seek - and the nutsy and anti-Torah new-
age mishmash so fervently sold by the emotionally needy.)

However, "our ideology" is not at all parallel with the Discovery 
program.  First, we are a non-profit educational foundation and I am a 
Jew and a scientist.  Neither I nor Meru Foundation has any "ideology" 
other than the personal commitment of many (not all) of our group to 
Torah Judaism.  (Which, in my opinion, is not an ideology.)  Secondly, 
unlike the Discovery program, Meru Foundation does not believe that it 
is a good idea to bring persons to Judaism by means of seemingly 
scientific demonstrations - even when they are scientifically justified.  
I tend to agree with the criticism on the Discovery program as spelled 
out by Prof. A. M. Hasofer, in the current issue (No.8) of B'Or HaTorah.  
(I highly recommend B'Or HaTorah.)  Further, while I believe that the 
statistical work done by the Discovery program folks is first class and 
reliable, I do NOT believe that statistics, NO MATTER HOW ROBUST, can 
ever prove anything.  There can ONLY be scientific proof when the 
mechanism that generates what the statistics measure is known.  It is 
important to remember that the very same statistics used by the 
Discovery program to demonstrate that "only HaShem could have done it" 
are used by equally competent (and I would say, equally presumptuous) 
academic scholars (who do not believe in Torah) to demonstrate that 
human's MUST have done it.   We should also note, AS PREDICTED BY TORAH 
SCHOLARS, that non-Jews are now using similar techniques to find the 
names of their spiritual leaders in Torah texts.  Statistics without a 
model are not science and they can easily be abused.

The Meru work is radically different from this.  If anything, our models 
may help to explain the presence of the equal interval letter skip 
patterns that Discovery has found in a way that does honor to Torah and 
to science.  (We believe that it is possible that what we have found is 
Torah true and scientifically meaningful.)  Our work is NOT based on 
statistics, but rather, (hopefully) on our understanding of the 
fundamental processes that are responsible for the statistics and that 
provide some understanding of what HaShem via Torah may be trying to 
teach us. 

One great failing of statistics, from a Torah perspective, is our 
inability to Na'aseh before we can Nishma.  (Note:  "Na'aseh v'Nishma" 
means, roughly, "We will do and we will understand," and is most often 
said in reference to our original receiving of the Torah - we agreed to 
act according to G-d's will, *without conditions*, assuming we would 
understand later, in the doing, what there was for us to understand.)  
Statistics does not enable anyone to do anything to confirm the meaning 
of the statistics.  How can we know (Nishma) when we have no access to 
do (Na'aseh)?  The Meru findings provide the Na'aseh, which in Torah-
competent hands, can lead to Torah-understanding (Nishma.)

It is true that several persons, including myself, have come to Torah 
observance (at various levels and rates of approach) because of their 
association with this material.  But their reasons for doing so are very 
different from each other, and different also from the reasons persons 
are drawn to Torah via the Discovery statistics.  No general rule should 
be inferred from this.  It is not my personal wish to use the Meru 
findings for this purpose, even if they are found to be valid and Torah-
true by our sages.  (I am not comfortable with proselytizing in any 
situation.  Spiritual matters are just too important and too personal 
for me to want to influence another person's choices directly.)  Neither 
Meru Foundation nor I myself have a track record or credentials on which 
to stand.  We can only be evaluated by the integrity of what we do.  Our 
credibility depends on our attempting to adhere to the highest standards 
in the Torah world and in the scientific world - simultaneously.  This 
means that we must be very  conservative in our relationships.  (We will 
appear radical no matter how careful we are, so we must take extra pains 
to avoid even the appearance of religious or scientific bias.)

So, I hope that Meru Foundation can work cooperatively with other 
groups, such as the Discovery folks, but I do not think it would be 
healthy or helpful for us to be too strongly identified with any other 
group.  We are not the same, and our goals and needs are not the same 
either.  We are the same in our allegiance to Torah and the Torah 
community.  How we express that allegiance is, however, not the same.

The alphabet is not exactly "first translated into ternary numeric 
base,...."  That is only an accounting scheme.  We did not determine the 
letter meanings until much later.  However, the 3x3x3 matrix that the 
ternary letter count produces does turn out to be central to the 
assignment of universal meaning.  The symmetries in the first verse of 
B'Reshit become clear when you count the letters in ternary (Base-3).  

The teaching that the Torah is organized so that the whole is in the 
first letter, the first word, the first pasuk (verse), the first 
paragraph, the first chapter, etc., is a Torah teaching.  I did not make 
it up.  Our experiments demonstrate that this teaching is very likely 
true.  We have been able to demonstrate this explicitly for the first 
letter, the first word and the first verse and we have been able to 
demonstrate its plausibility (this is not a proof) for the first week of 
creation.  We believe that the Discovery program's equal interval letter 
skip patterns MAY constitute a demonstration that the patterns we have 
found continue throughout Torah, and we have detected markers at various 
places throughout Torah where our predicted patterns seem to reappear.  
It is very very very very frustrating to be on to this and to not have 
the resources or knowledge base to proceed with the hard (and vital) 
experiments that might confirm what we seem to have found.  We are most 
certainly open to COMPETENT help.

HOWEVER, even given these limitations and the fact that the vast 
majority of this research is still ahead, we believe that we do now have 
sufficient data and a sufficiently robust and coherent (Torah and 
scientifically valid) model that, while it will certainly be refined and 
corrected, will also stand the test of time and the expected criticism.  
This is a work in progress; for it to come to a useful and Torah-true 
conclusion requires careful, caring, and comprehensive criticism from 
many disciplines.  No one should take my word alone on this work (after 
all I am NOT a disinterested nor a credentialed person).  Our findings 
to date justify the time and attention to get a full hearing and fair 
review; they do not justify immediate acceptance.

The phrase in the second verse of Sefer Yetzirah (the "Book of 
Creation", one of the best-known Kabbalistic works) is: "Asar Sephirot 
Belimah."  (Ten "sephirot" "out of nothing", in one common translation.)  
We will be pleased to send a copy of a draft paper on this (along with 
an introductory packet of information on the Meru Foundation to anyone 
who asks and sends us their surface mail address.

The important form that we found that generates the Hebrew alphabet is 
NOT a mobius strip.  It is also NOT a golden mean spiral as our 
plagiarist claims, and it is not any other previously known mathematical 
function.  Instead it encompasses all of these concepts.  I call it 
"Naked Recursion" and I claim it represents a natural constant of form 
representing a fundamental relationship in mathematics (and science and 
Torah.)  "Naked", in a mathematical sense, means "unadorned" and 
"without any other quality or limitation."  This alludes to (and, in its 
small way, attempts to model) the universal and unqualifiable quality of 
HaShem.  "Naked" also alludes to the use of the word "Orios" (literally, 
"nakedness" or "incest") in the first line of Mishneh Ain Dorshin in 
Hagigah, and to Rabbi Akiva's horrible death.  (His skin was combed off 
by the Romans.) 

"Recursion" includes all forms of self-embeddedness.  B'Reshit 1.11: 
"Fruit tree yielding fruit whose seed is inside itself" (Also quoted in 
the introduction to the Sefer Zohar, another well-known Kabbalistic 
work.)  The self-referential aspect of life and of human consciousness 
is also "recursive" in the mathematical sense.  Life is life because it 
recurs - because it propagates.

I am sad that Sam did not find this convincing.  The discovery of a 
hand-shaped Tefillin strap that generates the letters of the alphabet is 
our principal finding.  Personally, I am more convinced that this is 
true than I am about any other aspect of this work.  The logic of using 
a model hand held in our hand, to generate the letters of an alphabet 
that we are taught connects chochma (wisdom) and binah (understanding), 
is, to me at least, overwhelming.  Our hand IS the G-d-given embodiment 
of our ability to project our conscious will into the consensus world, 
and to bring an image of the world into our personal mind-space.  
Generation of the alphabet by this means naturally guarantees that the 
letters will be equally robust and useful in consciousness and in 
physics simultaneously.  I strongly doubt that there is any better way 
to do this, and I have perfect confidence that HaShem always make the 
best choices.  (However, it is ESSENTIAL to remember that even our own 
hand can be used in an idolatrous way.  Therefore, at the highest 
levels, the image of our hand must also drop away, and only the feeling 
underlying the hand gesture can remain to lead to the experience in 

Another example of a best choice was our discovery that we could count 
the Hebrew letters in ternary.  We did not know it at the time, but 
there is a simple and elegant mathematical proof that ternary is the 
single best (most elegant, universal and compact) number system for 
conveying information.  How could it be otherwise?  If Torah counts in 
ternary and if HaShem gave us Torah, could we believe that He used the 
second best means of doing so?  (Note: This conforms to BOTH my Torah 
beliefs and my scientific standards - that is why it is acceptable in 
the Meru research.)

The validity of the associations between form and meaning that we have 
made should be judged after persons have had the opportunity to read our 
written materials on this.  The presentation at AOJS was too short to 
fill in all the details and to demonstrate the coherence of our approach 
as a whole.  (We will send material on this to anyone who requests it.)

The musical tape was not played at AOJS but it is available in a shorter 
version on the videotapes of many past lectures.  Its purpose was to 
provide some degree of assurance that the patterns we found explicitly 
at the beginning of B'Reshit continued throughout the text.  Listening 
to the sequence of tones does provide this for most listeners.  We also 
learned some things about the structure of the text form listening to 
the tone sequences.  Those interested should contact us for further 

There is no TAURUS in our system.  We are working with the basic self-
referential flow-form, as defined by the letter sequences at the 
beginning of B'Reshit, which is called a TORUS.  We have done no work on 
the astronomical houses of which Taurus is one.  Yes, as I like to point 
out, in one common mathematical form a Torus can look like a bagel.  In 
nature, however, a torus is most like a "Fruit tree yielding fruit whose 
seed is inside itself."   In nature, a torus, modeling a hypersphere, is 
in the form of an idealized apple-shaped fruit. 

Again, in my opinion, our work is radically different from the Discovery 
approach.  I am sorry that Sam thought otherwise.  Perhaps I should have 
been more clear about this.  

The principal reason why this work has not blossomed is that in the past 
we have been rebuffed by nearly everyone we have approached (though, of 
course, there are those who do appreciate its value).  This is difficult 
work.  Most Jews are offended by our use of mathematics and our 
discussion of other traditions (not to mention my long hair); most non-
Jews are completely opaque to the idea that Judaism might have something 
to offer; most academics will not seriously consider any spiritual 
tradition as more than superstition and myth; most scientists think we 
are too mystical; and most wealthy individuals are not interested in 
teachings that do not validate the legitimacy of their wealth.   Or, 
maybe I just have bad breath. 

The fact is, this is work in progress.  It is not finished work, so I 
cannot make claims of what we will find when we are finished.  (This 
situation, as any researcher knows, makes it hard to get funding, even 
for ordinary secular projects.) 

We have tried (dozens of times now) to find a "computer whiz" who could 
work on this.  All who have tried have given up because they could not 
figure out what to ask the computer to do.  But think for a minute.  If 
these ideas *need* to be done on a computer, then they must be wrong.  
Great as the accomplishments of our sages of the past, and barring nutsy 
space-buddy theories of the origins of humankind and Torah (Sitchen, et. 
al.), our sages did not have computers.  If computers are necessary to 
do this work, then the work is no more than a fantasy of mine, and is 
not part of Torah or Torah-true at all.  Computers can be useful for 
modeling and they are certainly helpful to me in writing this response 
(given my terrible spelling, etc.), but computers cannot and will not 
ever know HaShem.  (I believe that the belief in strong Artificial 
Intelligence is an idolatry.)  It is up to us, using our G-d-given 
abilities and feelings, to do this work.  As long as I resisted putting 
on Tefillin, and as long as I insisted on a purely analytic (meaning 
leave my feelings out of it) approach, all I could find was an abstract 
model - no more than an idol.  Only when I was finally able to let down 
my ego-guard enough to take on (a small part of the yoke of) Torah 
myself, could I FEEL the letters on my arm and on my hand and on my soul 
and on my heart and on my mind.  This is not a mechanical pursuit that 
can be accomplished by technology.  No machine can Na'aseh for us to 
Nishma - we must do this for ourselves.   The learning and the 
validation of these ideas is in our doing (in a Torah-true 
scientifically valid way.)  Hot shot programmers really cannot help to 
settle the difficult questions with their computers.  (They can help to 
simplify some of the mechanical tasks, however.)

Our work is challenging and it is disturbing to some.  We are saying 
that Torah includes a science of consciousness, and that this science 
requires doing before knowing.  How many persons are willing to jump in 
before they are sure of something?  It is hard enough to do this for the 
Torah we are sure of.  

Beyond all of the petty difficulties that stand in the way of any idea, 
there is the matter of scale.  Simple ideas that do not have deep 
ramifications can be accepted quickly.  They do not have much cultural 
inertia.  Important ideas are more culturally massive - they have more 
inertia.  It is necessary that we accept them slowly and with great 
care, expressly because they may have a deep and long influence on our 
lives.  If the Meru work fits this second category, it must be slow in 
acceptance.  If I heard of the Meru work from someone else, I would be 
very skeptical and I would certainly not believe it until I had done 
much thinking and reading.  I do not expect anything else from others.

With regard to endorsements and hechshers:  While I met with Rabbi 
Steinsaltz on two occasions, on the second occasion we only spoke of 
personal matters and on the first occasion he merely referred me to 
Rabbi Ginsburgh and provided general encouragement.  Neither I nor Meru 
Foundation have his endorsement. (If we could afford to travel to meet 
with him again, we would immediately do so.)

This brings me to my second point.  It is entirely inappropriate to base 
the credibility of scientific research on endorsements.  I understand 
that in the Torah world the concept of "who holds by this" is a useful 
one, but for me personally it is demeaning and professionally, as a 
researcher, it is embarrassing.  In this situation it may even be 
inconsistent with Halacha.  The Mishneh Ain Dorshin makes it very clear 
that these ideas can only be discussed with persons who already know 
them for themselves.  If a person needs an endorsement in order to 
evaluate this work then they are not qualified to do so.  That may seem 
unfair, but, in this situation, I believe that we should consider that 
it may be justified.

However, our work has been evaluated by a wide range of persons, 
including highly respected and knowledgeable Torah Jews, and we do 
provide copies of what they have had to say for those who feel a need 
for this reassurance.  I am sympathetic when a Torah Jew asks me why he 
or she should skip a Talmud class to study the Meru work.  I would not 
want vital Jewish learning to be displaced by clever mishegas (which is 
very prevalent these days.)  Persons who would like to know "who holds 
by this" in the Torah world and/or in the academic/scientific world 
should ask us and we will provide it.  Please, however, do not try to 
convince persons of the value of this work because someone else says it 
is valuable.  That can be embarrassing to all concerned.  Certainly, 
please do not post the names of respected persons openly on a public 
forum (such as this.)  The misinformation about Rabbi Steinsaltz could 
be embarrassing to him and to us.  (By the way, this misinformation is 
based on a misunderstanding and on the passage of time.  No one had any 
intent to mislead here.  But, these things happen.  So, please be 
careful when using another person's name.)

There are many issues not discussed here and there is much more to say.  
If the Meru work is what it seems to be - important to our understanding 
of Torah), we all have a responsibility.  Check this out and decide for 
yourself if this is valid, worthwhile and something that you can help to 
nurture.  If so, and if we are going to do work that meets the highest 
Torah and scientific standards, than we need your help.

Our address and phone were posted correctly:
Stan Tenen,
MERU Foundation
POB 1738
San Anselmo, CA 94979

415 459 0487 (24-hour voice answering machine or live person)
415 456 3281 (FAX connected 7 AM - Noon Pacific Time, M-F ONLY)
Compuserve:  75015,364
Internet:    <meru1@...>

Yours truly,
Stan Tenen,
Director of Research,
MERU Foundation


End of Volume 15 Issue 10