Volume 16 Number 92
                       Produced: Mon Nov 28 23:32:56 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Binyomin Segal's "My Daas on Daas Torah"
         [Stan Tenen]
Flood and Mesorah
         [Stan Tenen]
Response to Moshe Bernstein's Observations
         [Stan Tenen]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 1994 12:14:18 -0800
Subject: Binyomin Segal's "My Daas on Daas Torah"

m-j subject: My Daas on Daas Torah

In m-j 84 Binyomin Segal reports that he spoke with a scientist who told 
him that: "...the difference between a geocentric theory and a 
heliocentric theory is merely how complicated the math is."  Strictly 
speaking, this is true.  But, it is not the whole truth because 
mathematics cannot provide spiritual truth.  Mathematics is NOT the 
territory, it is merely a map.  (We and our feelings and experiences are 
the territory.)  When we examine the real world to see what the 
mathematics applies to, we realize that the earth must circle the sun.  
Otherwise, the distant stars would be forced to spin around the earth at 
speeds far in excess of the speed of light.  Since the speed of light is 
a constant of relativistic time, this puts us in another impossible bind 
which we can get out of only by rejecting an enormous amount of 
experimental evidence.  Fine, you say, let's reject this evidence.  That 
is okay too.  But it means that our appliances and scientific 
instruments that we use every day run on miracles.  I am very reluctant 
to attribute everyday affairs to the continuous intervention of Divine 

It is interesting to note that there was a series of books published in 
the 1960's that demonstrated how physics was consistent with the view 
that it was not gravity that attracted, but rather that everything in 
the universe was expanding at a exponential rate.  The idea was that we 
did not fall to earth, rather the earth rushed up to meet our feet and 
our feet and bodies expanded to reach the earth (because it, and all 
matter, was constantly exploding.)  The mathematics for all of this is 
entirely consistent also - just like the mathematics for a geocentric 
solar system.  The difference between this theory and conventional 
understandings of gravity does not effect what we experience, and it is 
not any better or worse mathematically than conventional theories 
either.  But it is plainly a ridiculous result - and worse, from the 
point of the scientific principle known as Occam's razor, it was 
gratuitously complicated.  (I believe that there is a similar teaching 
in Judaism:  Don't make up a complicated result when a simple one serves 
just as well.  We should not presume that Hashem acts gratuitously.)  

However, there is an essential sense to the geocentric model.  It 
applies to some kabbalist situations - it was never intended to be 
physically true.  Even in the ancient world, it was mostly only the 
peasants and the emperors who believed that the earth was flat and in 
the center of the solar system.  The minority of educated persons always 
knew of the physical evidence and the logic that demonstrated otherwise.  
But the works of educated persons are usually reviewed by followers and 
those less educated - who more likely are willing to agree with the 
emperor's ignorant prejudices.  This means that even when the original 
ideas were sound, they were often bastardized by the "translations" and 
misunderstandings of those who followed.  Confusing the sacred geometry 
of kabbalah, where there is meaning to a geocentric SPIRITUAL model, 
with a model of the real world is an example of this.  The secular world 
has always been prone to this, but I am astonished to discover that it 
also appears to be true to some extent in the Torah world.  I do not 
believe that we should emulate the secular scholars.  Once direct 
knowledge is passed to those who cannot distinguish metaphor from fact, 
there is usually no way back.  There must be a new Na'aseh before there 
can be a regained Nishma.  (I hope I am not offending by using "Na'aseh 
v'Nishma" in this not completely accurate allegorical manner.)

There is a popular author, Zachariah Sitchin, who represents that he can 
read the glyphs on Sumerian cylinder seals.  He says that they say that 
humans interbred with the "Nefilim" several hundred thousand years ago.  
This is lunacy.  We speak English, yet we cannot read Shakespeare well 
enough to catch most of his jokes (without the aid of an expert), and 
Shakespeare wrote only a few hundred years ago and did not use ambiguous 
pictograms and glyphs.  From my point of view, Sitchen's thesis is 
totally unfounded because (beyond the question of how to read the glyphs 
in the first place) we cannot tell if the Sumerian seals were intended 
to be literal, metaphoric, or spiritual.  (There are many other glaring 
flaws in Sitchen's theories also.)

So, yes "You can assume the earth stands still and compute the sun & 
planet's motion, or assume the sun stands still and compute."  That is 
true, but it simply does not have any bearing on how we know - with 
certainty (NOT absolute certainty, just plain certainty) - that the 
earth goes around the sun.

If you want to understand science, do not only speak with a scientist.  
Spend a few years doing science.  Na'aseh v'Nishma.  There is a world of 
difference.  Who would think they understood Torah by asking an orthodox 
Jew a few questions out of context?

Good Shabbos,


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 1994 12:12:53 -0800
Subject: Flood and Mesorah

In m-j 82 Yosef Bechhofer states "The Rambam was a smart man, he knew 
that science cannot state with certainty anything about the past,...".  
I believe that this is an error caused by exaggeration.

It is certainly true that science cannot decide (and likely will never 
decide) on what the exact age of the universe is.  Science has proven 
that some things cannot be known.  For example, it is not possible to 
measure the location and velocity of an electron simultaneously.  So, in 
a narrow exaggerated sense, it is true that science cannot know the past 
(or even the present) with perfect accuracy.  But this is NOT the issue.  
Whatever the age of the universe, whether it is 18-billion years, 
6-billion years, or even substantially more or less, makes no difference 
to the argument.  None of these ages is anywhere within 5755 years, and 
we can be as absolutely certain as a human can be that science will not 
find an age for the universe that is within a billion years of 5755 
years.  Let me repeat, for all the arguments already presented here, 
science can state with certainty that the universe is much more than 
5755 years old.

And, I too believe that the Rambam was a smart man.  To me this means 
that he would have been able to muster the very same arguments.  I do 
not believe that Rambam would so exaggerate the test of certainty so as 
to prevent any realistic appraisal.  I believe that precisely because 
Rambam was a smart man he would never have made the arguments 
against science that are being made here.

As to the question: "Is the Torah not history?"  It is essential to my 
faith in Torah that it NOT be ONLY history (although Torah does 
obviously make use of and record accurate history).  I'm not sure if 
they have been posted again, but I repeated the quotations from the 
Zohar and other kosher sources that state this emphatically, and that 
describe persons who see Torah as EXCLUSIVELY literal history in very 
unfavorable terms, even excluding such persons from the world-to-come. 

And while some may be "amazed at the blind faith that some have when it 
comes to 'multidisciplinary unanimity of numerous serious 
researchers,'", I reject "blind" faith, both in science and in Torah.  
That is why I have spent the past 27-years independently researching 
these issues for myself.  But I also understand why a Torah Jew would 
accept Torah on the seemingly "blind faith" in the words of our sages.  
That is because most Torah Jews have had personal experience with the 
integrity and wisdom of their Torah teachers.  Such faith is not 
"blind"; it is rooted in personal experience and observation (of the 
Torah student and the Torah community).  I ask that the same logic be 
used and the same principles be respected vis a vis "blind faith" in 
science.  One should not trust what a person not trained in science says 
about science, no more than one should trust what a person not trained 
in Torah says about Torah.  But a person trained in science, who has 
reviewed what they have been taught and how they have been taught it, is 
not acting on 'blind faith" in science.  This is especially true when 
they have done their own research and come to their own conclusions.  
That is not faith; that is experience.  I do not need much faith to 
believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, and I do not need much faith to 
believe that the universe is much more than 5755 years old.

Let's not accept the judgment of persons untrained in Torah when they 
speak about Torah, and let's not accept the judgment of persons 
untrained in science when they speak about science.  Let's only accept 
the judgment of persons (who are mature and) who have had "hands on" 
experience with the subject they are discussing.  Is there something 
wrong with this?

Good Shabbos,


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 6 Nov 1994 22:15:01 -0800
Subject: Response to Moshe Bernstein's Observations

Subj:  Response to Moshe J. Bernstein

Again I would like to thank Moshe Bernstein for clarifying and expanding 
on my references.  But, other than making it painfully clear that I am 
not a master of these references, I'm not quite sure I understand his 

My work and my understanding of Torah is not based on training similar 
to that of most persons who take an interest in these matters.  I am 
attempting to present my opinions, based on my independent and 
idiosyncratic work, as best I can.  There would be little point in my 
doing so if I did not base what I am saying as accurately as possible on 
what my findings seem to demonstrate (whether I or anyone else likes 
these findings cannot be allowed to affect my reporting them honestly), 
and there can be little point in my presenting them on m-j if they do 
not support Halachic Judaism. 

Besides reporting that my findings seem to demonstrate essential meaning 
at the letter level of B'reshit, I have also found references that seem 
to support or be consistent with the same view.  It is not likely that 
all references will agree, and it is certainly not likely that any prior 
reference was aware of the data I have examined in the form I came upon 
it.  So it should be no surprise that there are differences of opinion.

Also, I should confine my remarks to my expertise and not imply sweeping 
generalizations based on limited study.  While there are excellent 
indications that the letter level coding that I have been studying in 
B'reshit extends throughout the entire text (and likely well into 
Sh'mot, as well), I have only personally studied the first few verses of 
B'reshit letter by letter and into the story of Gan Eden in an overview.  
(There is good indication that the letter level patterns extend 
throughout all Five Books.) 

When I say that the Pshat, by itself, provides only a "flattened" sense 
of Torah, I am referring to what I can explicitly demonstrate in 
B'reshit.  There can be no translation - into Greek or any other 
language - that can preserve the letter by letter patterns that are 
demonstrably in B'reshit.  This is not based on any reference or 
quotation from any source.  The data is so, whether or not we can find 
references to it in the Talmud or among our sages.  (However, there are 
many references.)  

The pattern of the sequence of letters in the first verse of B'reshit is 
so strong, that, G-d forbid, if a letter had ever been miscopied, lost, 
or added, that could be detected and corrected by reference to only the 
other letters in the first verse and the symmetries inherent in the 
Hebrew alphabet.  Further, the pattern formed by the sequence of letters 
in the first verse of B'reshit is not random or arbitrary.  It is 
exactly defined and recognizable.  The first verse of B'reshit defines a 
Yad-shaped Tefillin strap.  When this strap is bound on the hand and 
different gestures are made, different Hebrew letters are seen outlined 
by the Tefillin strap.  The natural meaning of the gesture is the same 
as the meaning of the name of the Hebrew letter seen.  This Tefillin 
strap is not mentioned in the literal story of B'reshit, and it is not 
mentioned in any translation.  Still, it is demonstrably present.

These findings are the results of 25-years of investigation.  You can 
examine the first verse of B'reshit, see how we formed the Tefillin 
strap, place it on your hand, make gestures, and see Hebrew letters.  
When you examine the Tefillin strap and the other forms that we have 
found associated with the first verse of B'reshit, you can recognize 
forms and relationships that our sages discuss - including many that are 
otherwise hard to explain or understand.

I think we may be talking (or writing) past each other here.  I don't 
particularly disagree with most of what you have posted.  In fact, I'm 
grateful for the clear references and other clarifications.  So, I am 
not clear about what the problem is.  (Perhaps you are most interested 
in "the trees" and I am most interested in "the forest."  I have not 
studied "the trees", so my comments can only apply to "the forest.")

It seems to me to be a simple fact of ordinary observation that only a 
literal story can be translated literally.  (What point would there be 
to making a literal translation of the "words" of a program written in 
BASIC computer language?  The "story" might be the same, but the 
computer certainly wouldn't run.)  

There is a story in Torah and we both agree that it is true.  But, Torah 
is not only a story.  I think we agree on this.  If it is not only a 
story, there must be more to it than the story in Torah.  Where could 
that be?  At least some of our sages tell us that it is in the sequence 
of letters.  The sequence of letters existed before we humans made the 
choices that the stories in Torah speak about.  There are at least some 
sages who teach that this is so.

I have done independent research, not based on Talmud-Torah learning, 
that seems to bear out what some of our sages say.  B'reshit is highly 
structured, letter by letter, and this structure cannot be included in 
any translation.  The letter level structure, NOT the story, seems to 
actually describe "continuous creation" in a way that is entirely 
consistent with both our kabbalistic teachings and modern technical 
understanding.  Beyond Hashem's dictation to Moshe, we can show that the 
initial letter of Torah MUST be Bet as surely as any mathematician can 
show that the initial digit in Pi is 3.  No fudging and no apologia is 
required.  No belief in "creationism" is required - and consequently 
Torah does not appear to be mythology or superstition to educated 

This means, for example, that persons such as myself who were driven 
away from Torah for most of their lives by what appeared to be 
superstitious beliefs and mythology need not be lost to Judaism.  I 
would like to believe that there is a place for persons like myself in 
Judaism.  I would like to believe that other persons with modern 
critical educations and secular backgrounds will also be attracted to 
Judaism when they realize, for example, that belief solely in 
"creationism", in the simple literal sense, is not the only way to come 
to Torah. 

This is what I mean when I say that belief that Torah is ONLY stories 
"flattens" its meaning.  How could it be otherwise?  That is a logical, 
not a Talmud-Torah question.  I am not primarily seeking to answer that 
question by references to the opinions of our sages, because I am not 
knowledgeable in the opinions of our sages.  Instead I have sought to 
examine the Torah as it is received.  I am not a Karaite, dispensing 
with Talmud; I am trying to present data to the Torah community so that 
what I have found can be understood in the context of Talmud.

With all due respect to some of our sages who may appear to have said 
otherwise in what was likely a very different context than ours, 
Biblical translations are not and cannot include all of Torah.  The 
Greek translation is useful for some purposes, but never for study of 
the Sod level of Torah.  There is no Sod in the Septuagint because the 
Greek letter sequences cannot be the same as in our Masoretic text - 
Greek and Hebrew being different langauges, as they are.  Do you 
disagree with this? 

On another note, I remember reading in the old Jerusalem Post (while it 
was still liberal) in a column by Rabbi Pinchas Peli (of blessed memory) 
that there were over 900 rabbinically accepted word translations of the 
first verse of B'reshit.  Simply dividing the letters differently 
(without regard to the accepted messorah) provides many seemingly 
different translations.  It is my understanding that variant readings of 
this sort are encouraged as a means of understanding the meaning better.  
Where some persons might see contradictions between these seemingly 
different translations and be disturbed by the seeming ambiguities, a 
student who strove to unify these different translations might see a 
deeper underlying meaning.  

I was not suggesting the use of Aristeas in an halachic context.  I 
apologize for not being more clear.  Actually I did not know that 
Aristeas was Jewish, but what I meant is that he was not a "kosher" ( an 
halachic) source.  It certainly is easy to misunderstand written ideas 
when reading the words of someone with different training.  I have no 
idea who most of the sages quoted on m-j are, and I usually cannot 
understand Hebrew and Yiddish words and phrases that are not translated.  
I have never read any "classical rabbinic texts".

In my opinion it is symptomatic of a great tragedy that an essentially 
untrained person like myself has come upon important understandings 
about B'reshit and the alphabet, while these ideas have been lost and 
not found within the Torah community.  That brings tears to my eyes.  
The Shoah and the nearly continuous persecutions of the past several 
hundred years (at least) have taken a great toll on Judaism.  We have 
lost so much.  We have enormous problems from assimilation, secular 
Zionism, intermarriage, and "reform" versions of Judaism.  Our sages of 
this generation cannot understand and teach what Rabbi Akiva knew, or 
even what the Baal Shem Tov knew.  Very few of us meditate, and fewer 
even believe that we should meditate.  I believe that it is up to us, 
you and me, to regain what has been lost.  No researcher without a 
Talmud-Torah background can do this without help from those within the 
Torah world.  

Without Judaism as it has survived we would have nothing.  So, 
regardless of all other considerations, it is imperative that we 
maintain traditional halachic orthodox Judaism.  It is also imperative 
that we think for ourselves and maintain the highest standards of 
intellectual honesty.  



End of Volume 16 Issue 92