Volume 17 Number 94
                       Produced: Mon Jan 16  6:01:56 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Codes in Torah
         [Stan Tenen]
Pinkie Pointing
         [Akiva Miller]
Sha'atnez and tzitzit.
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Yitzhak (Istvan) Kertesz
         [Meylekh Viswanath ]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 15:13:46 -0800
Subject: Codes in Torah

In m-j 17,87 Yaakov Menken comments on my comments on the Torah Codes.
He says: "...these modern Codes involving minimum skips are quite
inconceivable without a computer."  This is not correct.  It is _only_
correct in retrospect - when we no longer know of the principles on
which the codes are based.  If the meaning of the codes were known to
our sages - and I am firmly convinced that that is true - then they
would not need any fancy mathematics to see the codes.  How do I know
that this is so?  The torus knot models that we (Meru Foundation) have
found in Torah offer a simple explanation for how these codes were known
and, in part, what they signify.

When the Torah is written out, letter by letter, on the Torus knot forms
that we have found embedded throughout Torah (no computer was used for
this), the letters that form equal interval skip patterns line up in
concentric (or skew) bands - like jewels at the intersections of
filigreed silver wire crossings on a Faberge egg.  The torus knots lay
out the orbits of the visible planets and constellations.  (See the
quotations from traditional sources that Dr. Martin Farren sent me and
that were posted on m-j a few days ago.)

When the Torus knots are inverted, they determine the topology (and in a
derivative way) the geometric forms of ALL "Fruit trees yielding fruit
whose seed is inside itself" (B'Reshit 1,11) possible in our reality.
Is there any wonder then that the Gan Eden section of B'Reshit "codes"
for so many examples of "fruit/fruit trees"?

Let me be very clear.  I DO NOT MEAN TO DISCREDIT THE "CODES."  In my
opinion, the statistical tests are valid and the folks doing the work
are sincere and qualified.  I accept their statistical work.  (This
doesn't mean that some mistakes are not possible, but I believe that the
bulk of the work is valid and it will stand.)

What I object to, is not the codes themselves, but the uses and claims
made for them.  They go too far in prophesy and not far enough in logic.
I do not believe that scientific findings, particularly statistical
findings, should be used to evaluate Torah.  No proof could be strong
enough to convince me either way: Is Torah Divine or isn't it.  - I
already know the answer to that.  It is based on my free will choice to
want to live in a reality where Torah is exactly as it purports to be.
(This is a choice.  There cannot ever, in my opinion, be a "proof of
G-d" or its near equivalent, a "proof of the divine nature of Torah"
that would convince an intelligent person who would ONLY look at
objective data.  Torah and HaShem must be known subjectively, and that
requires choice.)

I also object to a _default_ to "it's a miracle" as an explanation of
the presence of the codes.  This is not only too simplistic, but it does
not teach us anything of value.  I want to know what the codes are
intended to teach us about Torah.  Why are they there?  What do they
represent?  What does HaShem want us to learn from them?

My "honorific" model was only mentioned to provide a possibly plausible
example of one explanation that could account for the seemingly
prophetic meaning of the codes.  There are other possibilities as well.
(Some may be even more "imaginative".  <friendly smile>)



From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995 15:25:00 -0500
Subject: Re: Pinkie Pointing

Several posters have asked about this question. It was answered in the Oct
29, '94 issue of "Ask The Rabbi", one of the several mailing lists of Ohr
Somayach. I hope my fellow mj'ers will find it as intereresting as I did. (To
subscribe to it, send the message:     sub ask {firstname} {lastname}    to:

>What is the source for and the meaning of the custom to point the pinkie
>at the Torah during hagbah?

>Your question is interesting because it relates to a widespread custom 
>whose source is rather obscure.   
>Nachmanides remarks that the verse "accursed is the one who will not uphold 
>the words of this Torah...," is the source for the obligation to show the 
>written text of the Torah to the whole congregation.
>The Shulchan Aruch states:  It is a mitzva for all men and women to see the 
>written text of the Torah, to bow, and to say, "This is the Torah that 
>Moshe placed before the Children of Israel.  Halachic authorities explain 
>that this verse is to be said only upon seeing the actual text of the Sefer 
>It is told about the Arizal that when the Torah was held up for all the 
>congregation to see, it was his custom to look closely at the text so that 
>he could read the letters. The Arizal was quoted to say "that by gazing at 
>the Torah closely so as to be able to clearly read its letters, a person is 
>infused by a great [spiritual] light."
>While the Shulchan Oruch obligates reciting the verse: This is the 
>Torah..., it is also a minhag (custom) to append part of a second verse 
>"according to the word of Hashem through Moshe."   In his comprehensive 
>anthology Me'am Lo'ez, Rav Yaakov Kuli expounds on this custom saying: "the 
>combination of these two verses, though from different sections of the 
>Torah, alludes to the dual nature of Torah -- a Written and an Oral Law 
>both stemming from a single Source."
>Also, The Me'am Lo'ez is the only source that mentions the custom of 
>pointing  the pinkie finger towards the text, adding that it is customary 
>to kiss the pinkie after pointing. However, this is not a universal custom, 
>and is not mentioned in other halachic sources. 
>In reply to our inquiry as to the source of this custom, Rabbi Chaim 
>Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita, gave the following  explanation:  The Torah 
>lists the ten generations from Noah until Abraham, including Yoktan, who 
>established the largest number of families.  Rashi notes that Yoktan 
>merited establishing so many families due to his great humility as his name 
>indicates (from the root katan-little).  Rabbi Scheinberg went on to 
>explain that when pointing at the Torah we take this lesson to heart and we 
>point with our smallest finger -- the pinkie -- to indicate that we should 
>reach out to try to gain understanding of the Torah with the utmost 
>humility and thus merit to succeed in this aspiration.
>Rabbi Chaim Falagie expounds on a second variation of the custom in which 
>the index finger is used for pointing towards the Torah rather than the 
>pinkie. He bases this custom on six consecutive statements in Tehilim  the 
>first of which is, "The Torah of Hashem is perfect  reviving the soul...". 
>Each one of these statements is composed of five words corresponding to the 
>number of fingers of one hand. The second word of each statement is Hashem 
>corresponding to the second, namely the index finger. In pointing towards 
>the Torah with the index finger we are indicating that every word of the 
>Torah is a Name of Hashem. For that same reason, Rabbi Falagie points out, 
>during the wedding ceremony the ring is placed on the index finger to 
>signify that Hashem is the unifying force binding husband and wife.
>The significance and the symbolism that our Sages attach to every finger 
>and to each part of our body is most instructive. Rabbeinu Bechaye 
>discusses the utility of each organ and in particular the fingers,  each of 
>which serves to facilitate one of the five senses. The pinkie finger is 
>associated with the sense of hearing and  we may conjecture that this is 
>related to the custom of pointing towards the Torah with the pinkie.  
>o Nachmanides--Ramban on the Torah -- Devarim (27:26).
>o Tractate Sofrim (14:14).
>o Shulchan Aruch -- Orach Chaim (134:2); and Ba'er He'tev(6).
>o Devarim (4:44).
>o Sha'ar Hakavanos (Sefer Torah -- Drush 1)
>o Bamidbar (9:23).
>o Me'am Lo'ez -- Devarim (27:26).
>o Bereishis (10:26-29).
>o Lev Chaim (Responsa) -- Orach Chaim (167:6).
>o Tehilim (19:8-10).
>o Rabbeinu Bechaye -- Vayikra (8:23).


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Sun, 15 Jan 1995 00:01:10 -0500
Subject: Sha'atnez and tzitzit.

Alan Mizrahi in (MJ17#85) asks the following question:

>Why is it permissble to wear a tallit katan which has wool tzitzit, but
>the garment is not woolen?  Shouldn't the garment and the tzitzit be
>made of the same fabric?  If not, wouldn't that constitute shatnez if
>the garment is linen. I don't have many books handy, but in the kitzur
>shulchan aruch (9:12) it says some authorities do not allow making a
>beracha (blessing) on a tallit that has tzitzit made of a different
>fabric than the garment.

Sha'atnez (i.e., cloth combining wool and linen) is prohibited according
to the Torah (Vayikra 19:19; Devarim 22:11). Many reasons were suggested
over the years for this prohibition. The Rambam suggested that heathen
priests wore such garments (The Guide 3:37). Binyamin Ze'ev (Vladimir)
Jabotinski is purported to have explained it as the conflict between
animal farmers (wool) and land farmers (linen), and that such mixture of
cultures was unhealthy.  This explanation fits well with the idea that
Sha'atnez prohibition does not apply to tzitzit (Yevamot 4a) or to
priestly garments (Yoma 69a). In these two cases where garments fulfill
a specific purpose in man's relationship with God, the conflict between
shephards and farmers was superseded. Note that the rabbis regarded
tzitzit as a reminder to the Jew to observe the mitzvot (Menachot
44a). The gimatria of tzitzit and the knots total 613. This prohibition
also did not apply to the shrouds of the dead - he/she is no longer in
the mitzvot business.

Therefore: yes, your tzitzit is allowed to be Sha'atnez (Rashi &
Eben-Ezra Devarim 22:11-12). Some rabbis do not allow mixing of other
materials in the tzitzit such as silk and cotton.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Meylekh Viswanath  <PVISWANA@...>
Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995 10:55:10 EST5EDT
Subject: Yitzhak (Istvan) Kertesz

Yitzhak was a mj subscriber, who passed away recently.  I am reposting 
the following from the yiddish list, 'mendele.'

>From: <hochberg@...>

 I am sorry to report that Yitzhak died this past Monday morning. 
Yitzhak was a librarian at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York. He was a 
linguist, Talmudist, and author of a book on Talmudic and Rabbinic 
humor.  The funeral is Wednesday Jan 11, at 1:15 PM, at Riverside (180 
W 76 St) in New York.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Zev Hochberg
Noyekh Miller, the moderator of 'mendele' included an excerpt of an old 
post of Yitzhak's.  It may be of interest to mj subscribers, too.

Date: Tue,  2 Jun 92 07:52:53 PDT
>From: bm.lbh%<rlg@...>
Subject: Noch schlimmer mazl

to Hersh Volf Basser (2.04 #1)

I did not intend to deny that mazl means luck, fortune. You are right
that in that Talmud, and even all through the Middle Ages mazal meant
constellations, astrology. When we wish a mazaldike sho, or sing "siman
tov umazal tov yehe lanu", these are in the future tense. But how am I
supposed to understand "Mazl tov, I heard that your son got married!" Is
this a prayer to the stars about something that is done already? Or does
it mean, that the marriage should turn out to be successful? In which
case mazl means success, not stars. This is of course still not luck,
unless you are ready to claim that a successful marriage is only a
matter of luck! David Braun is (2.05 #2) absolutely correct, that mazl
came to mean "congratulations". ((Regarding the ironic use of mazl tov
when something breaks: since we scream mazl tov at a wedding when the
glass is broken, one might argue that this reaction to the sound of
breaking glass in other situations may be a Jewish Pavlovian reflex.))

The English words are confusing, too. Fortune magazine is not about
winning in Las Vegas, and the game-show Wheel of Fortune is not about
picking the lucky stocks. I know that I am not clear, but I don't have
an answer yet. All I know, is that this is a very understudied concept
called "chance", which would belong to a network devoted to Jewish
philosophy, called - I guess - Spinozele. ((This must mean "nose
twisting", if we follow the oylem - goylem phallacy that David Roskies
described in his article: Forward 5/22. Are you online, Reb Dovid?))

As for the conventional wisdom which explains the shlemiel spilling soup
on the shlimmazal, I have problems with it. First of all, as far as I
can see, and I am eager to hear if somebody has proof to refute me, this
definition does not appear in ANY European source. Moreover: If
shlimmazal is an event of bad luck that can happen to anybody, why is
the person sitting there called shlimmazal? Is it a person, or an event?
And if it is a person, but can happen to anybody, why does he have a
special name? If you believe that they are two separate categories (I
disagree) then shouldn't the case be the reverse? Shlimmazal spilling on
the shlemiel? "I was just getting ready to have my soup, when, to my
shlimmazl, can happen to anybody, my sleeves got caught in the edge of
the table, and there went the bowl. And that poor loser Shlemiel sitting
there, the soup could have gone to my left, to my right, but no, it
landed straight on his new suit!"

Yitzhak Kertesz


End of Volume 17 Issue 94