Volume 44 Number 08
                    Produced: Tue Aug 10  6:54:22 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Gematria/ Ktav Ivri
         [Stan Tenen]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Aug 2004 18:54:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Gematria/ Ktav Ivri

>Nathan Lamm wrote:
>What we call "Ktav Ashuri" is, simply, the Aramaic Alphabet. It was
>widely used for Aramaic by many non-Jews. Therefore, any theories about
>"Ashuri" meaning anything other than "Assyrian" have no basis.

As I quoted in my long posting just above Nathan Lamm's, our sages (you
can read the whole quote again for the details) tell us the opposite.

The Meruba Ashuris letters pre-date the Babylonian Exile, but until the
Babylonian Exile, they were not confused and confabulated with the
stick-figures of the ksav ivri.

The scholars believe as Nathan Lamm wrote, but our tradition does not.

I go even further than the discussion in Nosson Scherman's Appendix to
Munk's "Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet". What I'm proposing is entirely
consistent with what R. Scherman tells us, but due to my 30-years of
research on this, I'm adding the results of some additional insight
(which has been reviewed by Torah scholars).

The word "Meruba" is generally taken to mean Mem, "from", Arba-ah,
"four", and thus to mean "four-fold". Without reason to go further, this
has in recent times been assumed to mean "four-fold" in two dimensions,
and to refer to the squarish outline of the Torah-scroll letters (in
their many variations, and in particular as they appear in draftmans'
detail in Mishnas Sofrim).

This is sort of correct, but -- because of the same problems discussed
at great length in J.F. Schachter's posting in MJ Vol. 43 #91, on the
supposed "Cryptic Nature of Torah", the actual deep meaning of four-fold
has become blurred. So, the obvious has replaced the deep. The letters
are obviously squarish in form, and thus there is no reason for the
scholars to think that Meruba refers to anything other than a
2-dimensional squarish or rectangular outline.

Instead, there is more than ample reason to believe that Meruba means
four-fold, but not in two dimensions -- actually, in three
dimensions. In three dimensions, the most elegant form that has the
quality of four-fold -- and no other quality -- is the regular
tetrahedron, which is a pyramid-shape with a triangular base, and three
triangular sides that are all equilateral triangles.

In my research, I refer to this metaphorically as "the Meeting
Tent". It's the most compact and symmetrical form in 3-D, and in fact,
it may be referred to traditionally as a "pur" (die/dice), or because of
its perfect symmetry, as "thummin".

The word "Ashuris" is always taken by the scholars to be an Hebraization
of "Assyria", and thus it's generally translated as "Babylonian"
(another name for Assyrian). As R. Scherman points out, this is
_explicitly_ incorrect.  As I quoted in mj V. 43 #90, "But it is clear
that they would explain the name as Rabbi does: it means _not_ Assyrian
script, but exalted script."

Of course, I'm the skeptical sort, so while I accept the authority of
our sages in principle, I'm never quite comfortable until I can follow
their reasoning.

Assuming that R. Scherman, et al., are correct, Ashuris does not come
from Assyrian, but rather, is related to Ashrei, i.e., "praiseworthy".

This is satisfying, but I'd go further.

The word "Ashurit" consists of two parts. The first part refers to
''aish", meaning fire or flame, and the second part refers to "ur",
light. Well, over the past 30-years, I have developed a geometric model
that is _directly_ produced by pairing the letters at the beginning of
B'reshit, that looks like a little vortex-shaped fire or flame. It's an
entirely asymmetrical 3-D shape, and thus it's mathematically
complementary to the utter symmetry of the tetrahedron.

I put this "light" into the "meeting tent", and I call it, "The Light in
the Meeting Tent." What's extraordinary about this form is that one can
view different perspectives of the asymmetrical 3-D "aish" through the
symmetrical windows (triangular sides) of the tetrahedron, and what one
sees in 2-D outline are the rabbinic form of the Meruba Ashuris letters.

A survey of a wide range of examples of fluid rabbinic Meruba Ashuris
always centers on the "shadowgram" produced by this model. The letters
are extremely accurate and readable.

But this isn't enough.

The first word of B'reshit, "B'reshit", also contains the same
model. Aish and Shith. In this case, "shith" can be interpreted as
meaning either "six", or as referring to a "thorn" (dictionary
definitions). A six-edged thorn, of course, is simply a common
description of a tetrahedron, which also looks like a thorn.

So the same model that I'm calling the "light in the meeting tent", is
also named, in a sense, in the first word of B'reshit.

But even this isn't enough.

The problem is that while this model makes 2-dimensional outlines from
various perspectives that look like Hebrew letters, this doesn't prove
anything. I believe it's correct, but it's not good enough by itself to
make the case, because there's no natural viewing direction to produce
each of the letters, and while the letter-outlines are there, they don't
carry any particular meaning.

And worse, one could take a wire coat hanger and bend it to include two
or three loops in 3-D, and by working hard enough at it, find 2-D views
that look like just about any letter in any alphabet. So, who's to say
that I'm not just "force-fitting" this? It sounds nice, and when it's
stated by sages, it's probably acceptable. But I'm not a sage. <smile>

Several years later (about the time that mail-jewish came into being), I
met and befriended a very serious (and somewhat well-known) rabbi and
kabbalist. Eventually, he spent Shabboses with us when he was in the
US. Of course, he felt obligated to get me to upgrade my
mitzvah-keeping, which at that time was minimal. Shabbos and kashrut
were easy for me, but I had a resistance to putting on tefillin, because
like most modern techies raised outside of Torah, this felt kind of
superstitious. Eventually, however, I realized that I was being
egocentric and stubborn. This rabbi was serious, honest, caring, and
accomplished. If I didn't take his advice, I would really be foolish,
because who better to take advice from than an honest, caring,
accomplished Torah Jew? So, I relented, and one morning (by myself), I
dug out my grandfather's tefillin, and put them on. (My father never had
an education, and my mother is fervently anti-religious.)

As I was putting on the tefillin-strap on my arm and hand, and looking
for Shin-Dalet-Yod, to make certain I was doing this appropriately, it
finally struck me. The small vortex model that I was calling "aish",
"fire/light", which I had placed in the tetrahedral frame, could well
have been a kind of tefillin strap. I was stunned. I quickly made a
model large enough to fit on my hand, and it fit perfectly.

Then, I was really stunned. When I made various gestures, I could see
the outline of each of the letters. And amazingly, the natural meaning
of the gesture that displayed the letter matched the name of the
letter. Almost all of the letters were unambiguously connected to
particular gestures that gave them natural human meaning, because it has
been demonstrated that all humans, world-wide, make essentially the same
gestures. (The published literature shows that persons who are blind
from birth, when asked to indicate "pouring out", make the same gesture
that I had published 10-years earlier for the letter Dalet, which means
both "to pour out" (as in a DeLTa, the Greek equivalent letter), and to
be poor (in the sense of dissipated or "poured out"), which is the
Hebrew meaning of DaL. (The dictionary definition of DaLeT as a door is
consistent with both of these.)

This is now the basis of my proposal for how we should understand the
term "Meruba Ashuris". Meruba Ashuris refers to a tetrahedral frame that
looks squarish in 2-D (when you look across the edges of a tetrahedron,
it looks like a square), and Ashuris refers to the fire/light in the

When the model hand (which I call "First Hand") is worn, and gestures
are made, all of the letters can be seen. When many (most that we've
checked) Torah roots are spelled using these gestures, a naive viewer
can tell the general meaning.

For example, the gestures that spell the simple root "Gal", meaning
"round", literally force a person's hands to make the
"basketball/sphere/globe/round" gesture in order to see the letters
Gimel and Lamed. Gimel-Lamed, GaL,in gestures, is naturally and
universally understandable. (Therefore, I have been proposing that it is
these gestures that underlie the Meruba Ashuris letters -- but not Ktav
Ivri, which is based on simplified stick figures representing pagan
idols -- that were lost at the time of Babel.)

Even assuming those reading this can follow what I'm saying, I still
don't expect it to be accepted without great skepticism. So, please, if
you're interested, ask me for more details, and I will respond to
questions and comments.

My original archive paper, "The Light in the Meeting Tent" (written before 
I was seriously observant) can be found at 
http://www.meru.org/lightintent/lightin.html . A chart of the 22-letters 
(in At-Bash arrangement) produced by the gestures and compared to a sample 
of rabbinic Meruba Ashuris, can be found at 
http://www.meru.org/Gestures/Atbashgest.html .

BTW, another confirmation that what I'm proposing is consistent with
traditional teachings is that this means of generating the letter-shapes
objectively confirms the AT-BaSh relationship. _ONLY_ with this model is
it true that each of the AT-BaSh (front-back) alphabet pairs is
180-degrees rotated from the other.

Thus, when you turn the rabbinic K-shaped Alef 180-degrees by inverting
the gesture that makes it, you see a fluid rabbinic Tav. When you turn
the Bet 180-degrees (on a different axis), you see an exact outline of
Shin. There are a few rough spots, because this is still a work in
progress, but this is really and simply true for at least 2/3 of the
AT-BaSh letter pairs.

This is not a coincidence, and these results could not be duplicated by
use of a randomly twisted wire coat hanger.

Also, unlike "the Light in the Meeting Tent" model, this means of making
use of the fire/flame-shaped vortex does impart a natural meaning to
each letter, and these meanings are, by and large, universal (as
published in recent independent scholarship).

And also, by the way, I didn't make up the asymmetrical fire/flame
vortex model. This model -- this shape -- this ur-tefillin, l'havdil, is
produced exactly by pairing the letters at the beginning of B'reshit,
and following a geometric interpretation of the instructions in Sefer
Yetzirah, Zohar, and Ain Dorshin.

(If you would like to know who "holds by this," and/or if you'd like to
view it for yourself, just ask.)

>If what you mean by "Meruba Ashuris" are modern STaM letters (in
>various forms), they are exactly that- (relatively) modern, developed
>from older Ashuri letters. A Sefer Torah written with thin Hebrew
>"block" letters is valid.

I know this is the common scholarly teaching, but it is incorrect. I
know it's incorrect, not only because scholars like R. Scherman say
otherwise, but also because of my own (now partially peer-reviewed)
30-years of research.

> > rules that the correct one is the third, which denies that Jews ever
> > used Ksav Ivri.  This ruling is based on Scriptural and Talmudic
> > proofs and, finally, on the number of Tannaim and Amoraim associated
> > with it.
>This is simply wrong. There are many artifacts from the era of the First
>Bayit written in Ktav Ivri. A seal of Baruch ben Neriyah himself has
>been found, and it's in Ktav Ivri.

There is no inconsistency here. If I'm right, and if R. Scherman (et
al.)  are right, then the two alphabets were used at the same time
throughout Jewish history. But the Meruba Ashuris alphabet only was used
fitfully for non-Torah purposes, until the Babylonian period, and then,
because of the loss of knowledge caused by the Babylonian tyranny, it
became confused with Ktav Ivri.

When you look at both the Ktav Ivri and the Ashuris letters carefully,
it becomes obvious that they are independent. A Ktav Ivri Ayin is a
circle, while an Ashuris Ayin is Y-shaped. There is no smooth
orthographic drift that can account for this and other inconsistencies.

The scholars, of course, have a vested interest in proving that Meruba
Ashuris derived from Ktav Ivri in Babylonia. They have a need to
demonstrate that Torah is a storybook that was authored, composed, and
edited by inspired people during the Babylonian period, so as to reduce
it to the same story-book status as the Christian teachings and later
Moslem teachings. If Torah and its alphabet are sacred and special in a
real, meaningful way, then they are _different_ in kind from ordinary
story-books, like the Christian and Moslem sacred writings. Even today,
even among scholars who are Jewish, there is still a built-in
presumption of supercessionism, and it has resulted in the documentary
hypothesis and the school of higher criticism, both of which deny that
Torah is via Moses, min Hashamayim.

Our tradition teaches that Avraham Avinu was the original source for
what R. Akiba later knew about the alphabet, and then wrote down as
Sefer Yetzirah.

This implies not only that Avraham Avinu knew the Meruba Ashuris
letters, but that he found them at the same time as he discovered the
Unity of Hashem/Elokim. In fact, one way to understand the model "First
Hand" in B'reshit is that in fact, it is a 3-D projection of the
topological relationship defined in the Sh'ma: Hashem/Elokim, Hashem
Echad. (For those who would like to see the details of how and why this
makes sense, please ask.)

> > particular, parts of the Introduction to the Zohar, which discusses a
> > 13-petaled rose, with a "second layer" of 42,
>Well, the Zohar was written, at the earliest, in the Talmudic Era, when
>Gematria was already in use. So the presence of Gematria in Kabbalah
>doesn't neccesarily speak to its antiquity.

Unfortunately, the later Kabbalah has many cultural innovations that
weren't in the earlier works, such as the Hekhalot literature.

There may be gematria used in the most popular more-or-less-modern forms
of Kabbalah, because by this time, Greek ideas had crept in. If Greek
letters had numerical values, then why shouldn't ours? Also, it's a
convenient notation. It's just not original.

> > spheres that surround it.  This arrangement also makes sense of the
> > triple-keterim on 9 of our letters, which have not been understood
> > satisfactorily since Akiba.
>Nine? Don't you mean seven? (Or do you include the final forms?)

Yes, I'm including the final forms. And you can see for yourself that
all of the 9-letters that have these triple crownlets with little
spheres on their tips, cluster around the corners of a tetrahedron where
there are also little spheres on the ends of each edge of the
tetrahedron. (These twelve little spheres later become the twelve
spheres surrounding the central sphere that is alluded to in the
introduction to the Zohar in its discussion of the 13-petaled rose, and
the field of lilies among the thorns.)

To see how the keterim naturally result from the need to have a
coordinate system in order to organize the alphabet, go to
http://www.meru.org/Lettermaps/triptag5feb.html . (For some detailed
comments by a Torah scholar who has carefully reviewed this, go to
http://www.meru.org/090400/sendor4.a3.pdf .)

For the polyhedral unfoldment of the "13-petaled rose" (as defined by the 
letters at the beginning of B'reshit), go to 
http://www.meru.org/Posters/lahcolor.html , and for more detail, go to 
http://www.meru.org/Posters/trsknotrngsphere.html and 
http://www.meru.org/Posters/lah72sph.html .

>In any event, the crowns are not found on even all forms of STaM
>writing, let alone older forms of Ktav Ashuri.

This is correct. What's the significance of what you're saying? (I'm
aware of this, and I don't think it affects what I'm proposing.)

>  What exactly is meant by the story of Moshe and Akiba can be
>explained in a number of ways.

Yes. But what I'm proposing makes explicit use of the details in the
gemara for Ain Dorshin. It seems to me that if the details I say are
there, are there, then Ain Dorshin should be taken as the authoritative

By the way, the same geometry that is found by pairing the letters at
the beginning of B'reshit (and thus re-weaving -- if I'm right -- the
ketonot passim) also outlines geometrically the story of the life of
Rabbi Akiba.

_METAPHORICALLY_ (in geometric metaphor), the geometry in B'reshit
includes "12-thousand pairs of students" who pass away from a "breathing
disorder", and the formation of a class of five new "students". In fact,
just about all the details recorded on the life of R. Akiba and his
companions are accounted for -- metaphorically -- in the geometry of
Genesis, where there is a parallel for each and every incident and fact.

In a sense, the life of Akiba as we know it literally acts out Sefer
Yetzirah, and in so doing, shows us how to make the letters based on the
principle of the Unity of God's Name (which is also coincident with the
geometry in B'reshit), and how to use the letters to understand
B'reshit, and Merkaba, and how to use these to get to Pardes and return

The geometry in B'reshit does not conflict with any traditional
teaching.  In fact, what I'm proposing is fully consistent with
traditional teachings, and it undergirds and supports these teachings in
a very robust and convincing way (once the data is examined).

>One might include actual crowns on letters, but not the ones we're used
>to thinking of with that word (on seven/nine letters), as they didn't
>exist in the times of the Gemara- more like lines at the letters'

I don't know where you're getting this, but to my knowledge, it's simply
wrong -- or certainly incomplete.

Also, this doesn't conflict in any way with what I'm proposing.

Be well.
Meru Foundation http://www.meru.org <meru1@...>
POB 503, Sharon, MA 02067 USA Voice: 781-784-8902 eFax: 253-663-9273


End of Volume 44 Issue 8