Saturday, May 07, 2011

My very own Torah code

So, I just ran some Torah code software. Torah codes are, of course, nonsense, because as Rav Yosef says in Kiddushin 30aא"ל: אינהו בקיאי בחסירות ויתרות, אנן לא בקיאינן, that we are not expert in plene and deficient spellings of words, something which would entirely mess up any Torah code.  Regardless,I thought I'd give it a run. I'd expect to find, randomly, something that could pertain to me.

I'm just starting to get up and running with the software, so I don't know yet how to get other words in the same drawn matrix. But here is a neat one:

With an ELS (skip length of four letters), here is where we find ווקסמן, 'Waxman':

I think an ELS of 4 is pretty compact, and thus pretty significant. And what is the context in the plain text of the Torah? It is Devarim 18:10 and on:

י  לֹא-יִמָּצֵא בְךָ, מַעֲבִיר בְּנוֹ-וּבִתּוֹ בָּאֵשׁ, קֹסֵם קְסָמִים, מְעוֹנֵן וּמְנַחֵשׁ וּמְכַשֵּׁף.10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer,
יא  וְחֹבֵר, חָבֶר; וְשֹׁאֵל אוֹב וְיִדְּעֹנִי, וְדֹרֵשׁ אֶל-הַמֵּתִים.11 or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer.
יב  כִּי-תוֹעֲבַת יְהוָה, כָּל-עֹשֵׂה אֵלֶּה; וּבִגְלַל, הַתּוֹעֵבֹת הָאֵלֶּה, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מוֹרִישׁ אוֹתָם מִפָּנֶיךָ.12 For whosoever doeth these things is an abomination unto the LORD; and because of these abominations the LORD thy God is driving them out from before thee.
יג  תָּמִים תִּהְיֶה, עִם יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ.13 Thou shalt be whole-hearted with the LORD thy God.
יד  כִּי הַגּוֹיִם הָאֵלֶּה, אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה יוֹרֵשׁ אוֹתָם--אֶל-מְעֹנְנִים וְאֶל-קֹסְמִים, יִשְׁמָעוּ; וְאַתָּה--לֹא כֵן, נָתַן לְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ.14 For these nations, that thou art to dispossess, hearken unto soothsayers, and unto diviners; but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

With my opposition to fake psychics, such as Nir Ben Artzi, and championing the cause of Tamim Yihyeh Im Hashem Elokecha, that you should be whole-hearted with Hashem, your God, and not like the non-Jews, who hearken unto soothsayers and diviners like Nir Ben Arzi, I think this is a rather apt Torah code.

That said, I don't put too much stock into Rabbi Glazerson's Torah codes matching Nir Ben Artzi with the word חוזה, Chozeh, as Shirat Devorah points out.

Even IF Torah codes were real, they are open to interpretation, potentialities, and so on. Chozeh means seer, but just what sort of seer / prophet? I can point easily to Yechezkel 13:

ט  וְהָיְתָה יָדִי, אֶל-הַנְּבִיאִים הַחֹזִים שָׁוְא וְהַקֹּסְמִים כָּזָב, בְּסוֹד עַמִּי לֹא-יִהְיוּ וּבִכְתָב בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יִכָּתֵבוּ, וְאֶל-אַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא יָבֹאוּ; וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי אֲנִי אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה.9 And My hand shall be against the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies; they shall not be in the council of My people, neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Someone can be a chozeh or a navi, but one who is sheker! Nir Ben Artzi certainly puts himself forth as a psychic, who can 'see' things, and this is true whether or not he is authentic, delusional, or a con-man.

Indeed, even Rabbi Glazerson engages in such interpretation of his Torah code, for though the word Mashiach is present, he interprets it that it is the time of Mashiach, not that Nir Ben Artzi himself is the mashiach.

Look, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Yosef Yashar both support Nir Ben Artzi. This may be good enough for some. (Though if they don't follow these rabbanim in general, I would wonder if it is picking and choosing.) Even though I disagree with both of them, and plan on a post explaining just what might be misleading them, I prefer this much more than Torah codes. Feel free to disagree with my on this, of course.


Moriya's Place said...

Unfortunately, the Torah Codes software has been used as a form of avodah zara to predict the future, much of the predictions (see California earthquake 2010) have not come true. It is a very dangerous thing to put your faith and trust in technology, rather than Hashem. Hashem can change the Jewish destiny at any time, dependent upon real Jewish teshuva. Instead, Jews have fallen trap to science and technology (Torah Codes included), to dictate what to believe. This is truly חבל!!

I think it's about time to chunk the Torah Codes, so that we don't rely on its "codes of predictions!".

It's better to worship Hashem the simple way, pre-Internet era. Do not let blogs sway your thoughts. They are mostly nonsense. Instead of TV and Hollywood entertainment, Jews have become addicted to blogs and email lists that distract and have become followers of people's thoughts of insecurity in spirituality.

Yitz Waxman said...

Nice to know.

Tidbits of Torah said...

@ Moryia, did Rabbi Glazerson make predictions? I may have missed something but what I see in this video is a mere pointing out of Nir's name as seer in the time of Moshiach.

@Josh, Nir is already in Israel.

Anonymous said...

Do not let blogs sway your thoughts. They are mostly nonsense. ... Jews have become addicted to blogs and email lists that distract and have become followers of people's thoughts of insecurity in spirituality.

Moriyah, don't you have a blog ?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this response. I also wondered what would happen if they also looked for the word (in hebrew) false prophet and see if those words show up in Nir's section.


joshwaxman said...


i don't understand. where did i suggest otherwise?

joshwaxman said...

if you mean the quote from Yechezkel, this was not meant to pertain, aspect after aspect, to Nir Ben Artzi. rather, it was used to show that the root CHOZEH can refer to both false and true prophecy in Biblical Hebrew, so saying that someone is a Chozeh does not mean that he is a TRUE prophet.

Radak explains that pasuk as follows:
ואל אדמת ישראל לא יבאו -
בשוב גלות בבל.

that is, historically, referring to those who return from Galus Bavel. But certainly that does not mean that there were historically no nevi'ei sheker who lived in Israel. we read of plenty of them in Tanach!

kol tuv,

Yeshivish said...

R. Josh, You have mentioned several times how you consider Torah codes to be nonsense. I thought of your problem before(אינהו בקיאי בחסירות ויתרות, אנן לא בקיאינן). This is a good contention, but I think it is possible that Hashem could have had in mind the alterations that will take place in the text. Do you have any problem with the methodologies used by the Torah code personnel. On a personal note, it seemed to me to be pretty convincing.

joshwaxman said...

indeed, it is a nice counterargument, and indeed one I made myself back in 2005. see this previous post.

still, i advance it here as part of a three-pronged approach.

in terms of the methodologies, and whether it is pretty convincing, I will note a big difference between the original article, by the statisticians, and what Rabbi Glazerson is doing. Both the Torah codes opponents and the Torah codes proponents actually agree that if you go on a fishing hunt, the results are not statistically significant and are thus meaningless. Thus, you can find an eerie and convincing Moby Dick code predicting the death of Princess Diana, in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Were there a history of considering this a religious work, we might have Moby Dick codes alongside Bible Codes. See here for the matrix for Princess Diana.

Every person, event, etcetera, has about ten thousands pieces of information associated with them, and there are different words to describe that data. For Diana, perhaps limousine, car, vehicle, auto, and so on. And princess, royalty, king, queen, crown, and so on. If you look in ANY LARGE WORK, for a convergence of these 10,000 x 5 synonyms = 50,000 words, you will find some subset of them. It is easy, and not significant at all.

So the opponents of the Torah codes pointed out this 'wiggle room'. And the proponents responded that in their article, they used a methodology which precluded this wiggle room, so it WAS statistically significant. The opponents try denying this claim, and back and forth.

Does Rabbi Glazerson choose all the words beforehand, before starting his experiment, as the statisticians did? I doubt it. He only shows his results. Which is why we don't know if he searched first for Navi, when he didn't find it, he tried other Biblical Hebrew synonyms, such as Chozeh. We don't know how many other details of Nir Ben Artzi he searched for. We don't know if he also looked for Kosem, Sheker, Shav, Ganav, and so on.

To see a debunking by an actual Torah codes expert, Harold Gans, see this Hirhurim post and this Jewish action article:

What it does mean is that any well-trained mathematician would have recognized easily, as I did, how to poke holes in the methodology...

The main problem was that no a priori methodology was established prior to searching. A priori methodology means that all the parameters of an experiment are defined before the experiment is run. If the experiment is a priori, then a valid assessment of the expectation of the outcome can be made. If the experiment is not a priori, then it is usually the case that an accurate assessment of the expectation cannot be made.

It was only years later that basic a priori protocol for Torah Codes research was developed, though until this very day, much of the supposed “research” into Torah Codes fails to adhere to basic standards of scientific methodology.

Basically, then, what Rabbi Glazerson and others are doing is basically gematria, in which you can prove any thesis you want to prove. Except gematria has a much more impressive history.

So I am not impressed with the methodology. Such an argument, though, cannot be made in one line, as the one from Rav Yosef, and will not as readily convince as wide an audience.

kol tuv,

Yeshivish said...

When i say i was impressed I am specifically speaking about The methodology used by Professor Ganz and the like. Do you agree with this assertion? If not please explain what is nonsensical about it.

joshwaxman said...

regardless, it is important to point out that the methodology used by Dr. Ganz is irrelevant to this post, since that is not how Drosnin and various Jewish people use them.

to show Divine authorship... i know i don't know enough of the relevant math to really evaluate it. or if i do, i haven't devoted the time to work it out. but see here, under the section Criticism, and in particular the Robert Aumann quote at the end.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...


R yosef would be a problem for those that have used letter counting for divrei torah before-such as the Vilna Gaon-who did it in shas as well as torah-and no one will say that we are bekiin in every vav in shas- so there seems to be a history of using such "codes" despite anna lo bekiin

joshwaxman said...

please choose a pseudonym, at least.

indeed, it would seem to be a difficulty for the Gra. but,

(1) this is not the first time i have argued with the Gra.

(2) in Shas, assuming we have the correct text, we might be more bekiin, because spelling of Babylonian Aramaic and of Mishnaic Hebrew is (or can be) more or less regular. the malei / chaser in Torah is a different story.

(3) in short skip lengths, there is less likelihood of a mistaken malei or chaser messing it up. for instance, in my Waxman Torah Code, with a skip length of 4, it is much less likely that in those words a mistaken malei or chaser would occur, unlike in the Ben Artzi matrix, where the skip length and thus the total number of letters is more.

(4) tangentially, to what end was the Gra advancing this? as parperet lechochma, like a gematria, bolstering what was already known? or as a replacement to Torah-based derivations? i don't think the Gra would be in favor of using a Torah code nowadays to determine if someone was a lunatic or a true prophet. i think too much of the Gra to believe this. he would first use his sechel, his encyclopedic Torah knowledge, and his powers of investigation.

kol tuv,

Moshe Sharon said...

Ironically, the profound conglomeration of scientific thought called the “theory of everything” (TOE) sounds very much like the “future age of redemption” (AOR) foretold in the Torah, during which all physical phenomena will be revealed and understood under the leadership of the Meshiach. Moreover, if any of the scientists want to find out “how the primary creative force and the ongoing creative process relate to the universe and its contents”, they need only to open The Tanya, the previously mentioned work of Kabbalah compiled by Rabbi Schneur Zalman (of blessed memory) and published more than two hundred years ago in 1799. There they will find “The Theory of Everything” explained in clear, concise and lucid detail.

Moriya's Place said...

Here is the link to the one Torah codes website about the CA earthquake.

In it, it also says that "It is important that we don't assume the Torah Code can be used to make predictions." Yet, predictions have been made regarding 2012, redemption in 5771 and so forth in R. Glazerson's website.

I have a feeling 2012 will just come and go like the rest, and Jews will then start to be despair and really, c"v, give up altogether!!

Yes, I do have a blog, but I try to stay away from nonsense. I am not perfect, but I am committed to teshuva. I hope the rest of us too.

We may not agree but we still have to unite, if not in time of peace, then definitely in time of war.


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