Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Handwriting Analysis of Rav Kaduri's Note

To those following a link to this post. Please note: I think that Rav Kaduri was NOT talking about Jesus. And it is not acceptable Jewish belief to belief that Jesus was the messiah, for too many reasons to spell out here. This post just shows what I think is proof that he was writing about someone named Yehoshua. (And one of his close spokesmen is named Yehoshua.) But Yehoshua does NOT have to mean Jesus, as much as Christians may want it to. And if Rav Kaduri did mean Jesus, this would just mean that he was either (1) crazy in his old age, and/or (2) a closet heretic, and not someone who should be a role model for other Jews.

A short time ago, Mystical Paths posted this handwritten note from Rav Kaduri, which seems very problematic given that it identifies the name of Mashiach as Yehoshua, which is thus similar or identical with the name Jesus. Not that I personally take the note seriously, except possibly in the same way an amulet from Rav Yonatan Eibeshetz might prove that he was a closet Sabbatean (though not even that - Yehoshua carries the connotation of redeem).

As Mystical Paths noted:

"The note reads:

בעניין הר"ת [ראשי תיבות, ע.י.] של משיח. ירים העם ויוכיח שדברו ותורתו עומדים. באתי על החתום בחודש הרחמים [אלול, ע.י] התשס"ה, יצחק כדורי"
Subsequently, Mystical Paths posted on the main page some feedback from a commenter, which reads:
"Too bad you posted this nonsense.

First, the note says ד"ת and not ר"ת. It's Divery Torah and NOT Rashey Tevot (this is also the context of his note).

Second, the so called "Vav" before "Torato" as it is very easy to notice, is forged. All "Vav"s in the note appear as single line, while this "Vav" is made with two lines (in order to create the initials Yehoshua). Also "Divrey Vetorato" has no meaning in Hebrew. Only "Divrey Torato" has a meaning.

Third, give me a break, if the Rav wanted to say the name of Moshiach he wouldn't say: "hey, see the initials of this sentence". Oh, what a big secret...."

I think this commenter is simply incorrect. Let us analyze this, point by point.

1) The note says ד"ת and not ר"ת, and thus it is Divrei Torah and not Roshei Teivot.

Response: It is funny that this dispute is whether the roshei teivot spell roshei teivot or not. Heh.

But what makes the commenter think this is so? Presumably, that the horizontal line goes back a bit to the right from the vertical line, thus making it "obviously" a daled rather than a resh.

The problem with this? That line is thicker than the rest, showing that he went back over it for some reason, perhaps that it was somewhat squiggly initially. The carrying over to the right of the vertical line was an accidental artifact of this rewriting of the line.

Do all of Rav Kaduri's daleds have a portion of the horizontal line to the right of the vertical line? Not really. Rather, it seems that the general distinction between a resh and a daled in this note is that the daled's horizontal stroke dips down and comes up, while a resh only is a dip down or else is circular, looping up.

This, for resh: the horizontal stroke of the resh in ירים just goes diagonally down, in שדברו it loops, in הרחמים it loops.

For daled: the horizontal stroke of the daled in שדברו goes down and then back up. In עומדים I would argue it does as well (thus is a bit thicker and thus higher to the left). In בחודש this dip down and up is clear. In כדורי the dip down and up is also clear.

Looking back now at ר"ת vs. ד"ת, it looks like the resh was initially rounded, needed some clarification and he fixed it by going over it, making a horizontal stroke descending diagonally but not dipping back up. And we have precedent for Rav Kaduri making this type of resh in the word ירים.

Thus, it is clear that it is a resh and not a daled as the commenter suggests.

The next point:

2) The vav in ותורתו is obviously forged, because it is made of two strokes rather than one.

Response: When people write, they sometimes use different forms of the same letter. This is already apparent from Rav Kaduri's use of two forms of resh, one in ירים with a single line descending diagonally and one in הרחמים which loops. The same is true for some of his חs. Look at his mem sofits - in עומדים it is rounded while in הרחמים it is diamond-shaped.

What about his vavs? Most of the time he uses a single vertical stroke, based on Hebrew cursive. But sometimes he uses two strokes corresponding to block letters. Thus, look at כדורי in his signature. There is a slight horizontal stroke there. Similarly, if we interpret the last letter in the word שדברו as a vav (as Mystical Paths does) rather than as a yud (as his commenter does), then this vav clearly has two strokes rather than one.

Indeed, the yuds would bear this out as well. The yuds in ירים and ויוכיח have two strokes, while in באתי and הרחמים they have one.

Thus, I would not conclude that the vav is a forgery.

The next point:

3) Divrei VeTorato has no meaning in Hebrew. Only Divrei Torato has meaning. This would prove that the vav in the beginning of veTorato was added by a later hand.

Response: The question is really what the last letter of the word דברו is. Mystical Paths understood it as a vav, while his commenter understood it as a yud (and thus דברי).

I would note the squashed nature of this particular word, and conclude that it is a squashed vav, which thus appears yud-like. Then, the phrase makes perfect sense.

Also, why assume someone would forge this? One should be wary of claiming a ziyyuf when the contents are controversial, for this is an all too tempting approach which enables avoidance.

Finally, the last point:
4) Why make it the roshei teivot, as if to hide it, when it is then so easy to decipher? It thus could not be "roshei teivot!"

It seems that the commenter is unfamiliar with kabbalistic practices. Coding in Roshei Teivot of pesukim, together with atbash and albam encoding, is standard kabbalistic practice, for example in amulets. And here, he gets to send an additional message together with the roshei teivot, with meaning besides just the name.

It is thus not strange at all.

Thus, I would conclude that the text of the note is exactly as Mystical Paths reported it.


Josh M. said...

Interesting. Any idea why R' Kaduri would use this rare malei spelling of the name (IIRC, the name is only spelled this way in Tanach once or twice, but no idea where)?

joshwaxman said...

good point. i didn't notice that.

we'd have to ask Rav Kaduri that. ;)

joshwaxman said...

seriously, though, you make a reasonable point (not sure if you were trying to, or just noting that it was off):

if it is roshei teivot, then what is that vav doing there? one might then conclude that either a) ר"ת was really ד"ת and it does not spell out a name, and/or b) the vav there does not belong, it should really start תורתו, in which case the roshei teivot don't work out, in which case it was not roshei teivot implied earlier.

I find this doubtful given that Rav Kaduri previously said he met mashiach and that analyzing his words would reveal Mashiach's identity. And the best way of discovering identity is by naming names.

Why, then it is ketiv malei? It is possible that as someone whose name is not Yehoshua, he didn't recall at the time that the second vav is not there. Or it could be that he wanted to spell out this particular message as well in the process, and that it is most often spelled chaser didn't bother him. Or it could be that perhaps the malei spelling is currently more common (don't know). For the specific motivation, one would have to ask Rav Kaduri.

But I think all this is more plausible than e.g. imagining a later malicious hand modifying the note.

yaak said...

Perhaps the intent is to hint to Devarim 3:21.

On another point, Josh, I know you didn't mean disrespect to 2 people when you said: possibly in the same way an amulet from Rav Yonatan Eibeshetz might prove that he was a closet Sabbatean, but it sure looked that way. Please clarify. Thanks.

On a third point, I just noticed that I'm the first non-Yehoshua to comment here. :)

joshwaxman said...

to clarify, I *highly* doubt Rav Kaduri is a closet Christian. Extremely unlikely. (Much more likely that he is saying someone nowadays named Yehoshua is the mashiach.) But for all those saying this is proof that Jesus is mashiach ... if Rav Kaduri actually meant Jesus, then all that would show is that Rav Kaduri's was a closet Christian, and would *not* imply that Rav Kaduri was right and that Jesus is mashiach.

In terms of Rav Yonatan Eibeshitz, it is always difficult to go back to historical controversies and come to conclusions. History is basically the study of lashon hara of centuries past.

Given the spirit of the times, in which closet Sabbateanism was prevalent even among some righteous rabbis, there is a distinct possibility that Rav Yaakov Emden was correct in some of his charges (and a distinct possibility that he was not). This would not be to say that Rav Yonatan Eibeshetz was a black-hearted Rasha, but rather than he was a good-hearted soul and a brilliant man who was misled by a popular and acceptable idea of the times.

The specific reference was to a some amulets written by the kabbalist Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz. All his amulets he gave on the condition that they not be opened. One such amulet was given to a woman that she should get better, and instead she died. Her husband gave over the amulet, and Rav Yaakov Emden, also a kabbalist, analyzed it and found things in it that basically showed that the author was a Sabbatean. He published this and other amulets, and the analysis, in a sefer (IIRC, called "Sefas Emes").

Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz responded by saying that Rav Yaakov Emden misread the amulet either accidentally or deliberately -- similar to the above -- that e.g. a Chet was really a Tav, etc.

Recently (a few years back), Rabbi Dr. Leiman discovered a document from a French court, notarized, which contained copies of the amulet and signed by students of *Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz* admitting that the text of the amulet was correct. Which leans us back to the direction that Rav Yaakov Emden was correct.

Whatever one conclusion one comes to about Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz (and one cannot really pasken historical matters such as these), I found the situations similar enough to make brief note of the case. (namely, the silly idea that Rav Kaduri was a closet Christian and the parallel to alleging that the note was modified from the original, and the various interpretations thereof.)

I'll check out the pasuk.
Kol Tuv,
Josh (a Levi)

joshwaxman said...

also, if I recall correctly, the text on the amulet included various atbash and albam cyphers, as well as the pasuk "Yeled Yulad Lanu Ben Nitan Lanu," and ended with MB"D Shabtai (interpreted as Moshiach ben David, Shabtai), and one of the things claimed was that the word was שבחי rather than שבתי.

checked out 3:21. interesting.
Kol Tuv,

Anonymous said...

When looking at the word *shed'varo* its obvious that the last two letters are resh & yod and the word is "divrei".
No *pilpul hevel* can change this.
The same goes for your interpretation of ד"ת as rashei tevot.
IMO a more reasonable explanation is that the words שדברי ותורתו which is grammatically incorrect,was just an oversight by R.Cadduri.also we mustn't forget that even great Talmudic scholars didn't know Hebrew very well & very little knowledge of grammar,as a matter of fact they shunned it & considered it apirkorsus. (of course I don't mean the Rishonim).
The same goes for the Kabbalists.
One only has to hear the poor Hebrew spoken by R.Ovadyah Yoseph.
Let alone when we are talking about a person who wrote that amulet probably in his late years,when he might been on the verge of senility.

I think my explanation makes more sense than your pilpul s'rak.

Shavua Tov

Anonymous said...

I find all this amusing. Anyone can say anything. But you already have my responses above in the post.

Rav Kaduri moved from Baghdad to Eretz Yisrael in 1923. You are telling me he can't speak Hebrew well?

He worked for the British army as a translator. He can't speak Hebrew grammatically?

And this specific grammatical error would be an extremely silly and obvious one to make. I don't know how well Rav Ovadia Yosef speaks, but I highly doubt he would make such an error.

Add to that that Rav Kaduri had previously said that he had met mashiach and that he would reveal mashiach's identity, compound that with the fact that as written it clearly spells out a name, Yehoshua, and my sense is that it is obvious that he was trying to spell out a name via roshei teivot.

Also, this is not an amulet, but rather a note.

Feel free to disagree, of course.

Shavua Tov,

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure why there has to be a grammatical error here; is it not equally readable as 'devorai vethoratho' ?

joshwaxman said...

excellent point.
it would then mean "that my words and his (/His) Torah stand."

and it would still give the appropriate roshei teivot.

it depends though how one defines "equally readable." grammatical, yes. it seems slightly more awkward to me, yet still acceptable.

however, in terms of semantics, I was initially understanding the sentence to mean that by redeeming Israel, mashiach would prove that Hashem's Word (that is, promise) and Hashem's Torah stand. It could be lowercase h's, even there, in which case it would mean mashiach's word and Torah. If we say divaray, then it would refer to Rav Kaduri's words as well as someone else (mashiach or Hashem's) Torah, a slightly more awkward construction.

but definitely possible, such that there would not have to be a grammatical error if the letter was a yud.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Josh, for the clarification over at Mystical Paths.

In regard to the malei spelling, isn't Shoftim 2:7 more interesting? There in the same pasuk are the chaser AND malei spellings. Would this not hint at a Yehoshua who is distinct from the first? (And no, as the Catholic here, I'm not trying to be cute.)

As for Me's debating over Rav Kaduri's letters, Rav Kaduri was 106 years old. Anyone ever look at the handwriting of those who are very advanced in years? Irregularities abound.

Gut Shabbos, y'all.

joshwaxman said...

Shofetim 2:7 is indeed interesting in this regard. I don't think it really hints to a distinct Yehoshua though.

We're used to looking at the text on a peshat level and a derash level. On a peshat level, the reaction should be that such irregularities are no big deal. As I always say, peshat is often saying, "Nu, Nu." In terms of apparently "off" grammar and spelling, this is a result of the fact that the Hebrew language evolved over time, and what looks strange might well be a now-arcane grammatical form. (For example, the kal-passive in Moshe's name and in other places.) Spelling was regularized, but that does not mean it always was so, just as in the case of English.

As Chazal say, "Anan lo bekiin beMeleiot veChaserot," we are not experts in whether things were malei vav/yud or chaser, in which case many things could be off. This might be a more regular spelling of Yehoshua in Tanach than we have presently recorded, or the one in that pasuk in Shofetim might be a preserved scribal error. If spelling was not regularized in this way, then it makes sense that one can switch off, even within a single verse.

In terms of the plain (peshat) meaning of the verse, it seems fairly clear that one Yehoshua is intended:
"וַיַּעַבְדוּ הָעָם אֶת-ה, כֹּל יְמֵי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ; וְכֹל יְמֵי הַזְּקֵנִים, אֲשֶׁר הֶאֱרִיכוּ יָמִים אַחֲרֵי יְהוֹשׁוּעַ, אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ אֵת כָּל-מַעֲשֵׂה ה הַגָּדוֹל, אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל"
"And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD, that He had wrought for Israel."

thus, they were good as long as Yehoshua bin Nun lived and even after - for the length of the life of Yehoshua bin Nun's generation, because of the witness to all the miracles.

Of course, on a derash level, these types of irregularities are regularly taken as cues to deeper messages. I don't think the typical derash would be to say that this hints at another personage, however. I haven't looked into what derash exists on this pasuk, though it stands to reason that some exists. If I were making some up characteristic of the style of derash, I might relate it to the adding of letters to individuals names.

Thus, just as Avraham and Sarah had their names changed, (with some saying the yud was taken from Sarai and it was exchanged for a heh added to each of their names), and a yud added to Yehoshua's (some say borrowed from Sarai), and this has special import in terms of change in status. Moshe changed Yehoshua's name from Hoshea adding a yud, also making it a prayer that Hashem save Yehoshua from the sin of the Meraglim. We might note that all these letters are letters of the Divine name. And tie in the midrash about Amram that we see that Hashem only associated his name with Amram (together with Avraham, Yitchak and Yaakov) after the latter had passed away. Why? Says a midrash - because as long as one is alive, he might still sin. Here, the change from Yehoshua with one letter of Hashem's name added to a set of *two* letters, yud and vav, is that he has now died. Kol Yemai Yehoshua is spelled Chaser, for Yehoshua is still alive, and Acharei Yehoshua is spelled malei, for Yehoshua has now passed on.

This is just a sample of what a derasha might say. But of course, derasha is often inspired by the world view of the one making it.

You make a good point about Rav Kaduri's advanced years. Thanks for visiting, and for your comments.
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the generous reply and your derasha on the spot. I think I need to rephrase my question. Obviously in answering the matter of malei and chaser at 2:7, you take a rational approach. But what about a mystic like Rav Kaduri? Could a mystic like him choose to present a malei spelling in order to nudge the hearer toward the p'sukim w/the malei spelling (which I guess is Josh M's intimation)? If that is part of Rav Kaduri's intention--a big "if"--could someone of HIS orientation read a pasuk like 2:7 as containing reference to a second Yehoshua?

By the way, while I have your attention, I really liked the solution you came up with for the identity of Yitro. It's eminently sensible. It still is mysterious to me, however, that the point of Yitro being chotein Moshe is repeated several times within Sh'mot 18:1-6.

joshwaxman said...

I'm glad you enjoyed my theory on the identity of Yitro. I should warn you, though, that I myself don't think it is actually true - Rashi or Ibn Ezra's explanations are much more plausible - just that it was too delicious not to mention and record for posterity. :)

We might imagine the repeated stress on Yitro's relationship to Moshe as a way of underscoring Yitro's importance only because of his relationship to Moshe, now the Big Man On Campus. I've seen midrashim that take it that way.

Alternatively, we have an ancient Jewish opinion that the Torah was written in several different megillot (scrolls) at different points in the wilderness, with a final redaction at the end tying them all together. (This would be similar to the Documentary Hypothesis.) Thus we have Yitro's joining them and being honored, and we have Yitro's introduction of a court system. It could be an attempt at introduction and tying in the verses that only refer to him as Yitro with those that only refer to him as Choten Moshe. (And the ones that refer to YKVK vs. the ones that refer to Elokim.) Such that we might have two such introductions in which we want to bring in both appellations. Plus it referred to him as such, but then there was an interjection what happened to Tzippora, and the reasons for the names of Moshe's two sons. I'm sure LittleFoxling, who is linked on my blogroll, and who does Documentary Hypothesis, has seen or could come up with an explanation along these lines. (Though as I've said, one need not posit multiple authors for this.)

joshwaxman said...

In terms of nudging the reader towards specific pesukim, I'm not so sure that any reference towards any pesukim were ever intended. Nor do I think that kabbalistically, those pesukim with malei spelling have any messianic implication. My first guess would be that his message made more sense with the extra word (that Mashiach's arrival would prove both that Hashem's Promise AND Hashem's Torah {= Old Testament} are true and still stand), and either was not bothered by the malei spelling or at the time thought this the regular spelling.

I could see how Christians could seize upon that pasuk in Shofetim as having Christological implications, given the name Yehoshua and a trend of looking for precedents in Old Testament for New Testament. But from a pure *kabbalistic* point of view, I don't think that any of the pesukim with malei spelling of Yehoshua have any special, messianic import. (Even if now he is saying that the particular name of the potential mashiach alive today is Yehoshua.)

The question, then, would be: could Rav Kaduri have been a closet Christian, or have turned into a closet Christian, such that he found this verse to have some special import, such that he would direct the reader towards this verse with a hint in the malei spelling.

My reaction to this would be: anything is *possible,* but it is highly implausible, to say the least. The cultural, intellectual, theological, and sociological divide is just so wide that such a shift seems ridiculous.

Someone in the comment thread in the blog OnTheMainLine pointed out that such sudden shift are not unknown. For example, Yochanan Kohen Gadol became a Sadducee at the age of 80. And I've pointed out here the *possibility* that Rav Yonatan Eibeshetz was a closet Sabbatean. How is this any different?

In terms of Yochanan Kohen Gadol, or the Hashmonean dynasty, we need to realize that Sadducees and Pharisees existed side by side and were different streams of Judaism. And Sadducees has the historic Kohen connection, together with what were essentially stringencies in ritual Temple law and laws of purity. And favoring Biblical law as written to the disfavor of Oral law took political power from rabbis and placed it more in the hands of the priesthood. As such, such an idealogical shift was quite plausible and expected.

In terms of Rav Yonatan Eibeshetz, the messianic fervor that spread like wildfire through even rabbinic circles, and even after Shabbetai Tzevi's death, is well known. Plus, Sabbateanism was a specific flavor of kabbalah, and Rav Yonatan Eibeshitz was certainly a kabbalist (as was Rav Yaakov Emden). As such, it is easy to see how a kabbalist might be or become a closet Sabbatean, at least back then.

However, as I mentioned before, the cultural, intellectual, theological, and sociological divide for a Sefardi kabbalist initially from Iraq but who lived most of his life in Israel to become a sudden (closet) Christian seems just to wide as to be implausible.

I hope I don't insult you with this, and you probably know this already. But many Christians I've encountered think that Judaism just differs from Christianity in that they have not accepted Jesus as mashiach. In fact, from a Jewish perspective, while there may be a dispute whether Christianity is forbidden or permitted for non-Jews (as a combination of idolatry with worship of God), for Jews it is considered idolatry. The verses in Deuteronomy talking about a seducer trying to persuade others to worship his idol - while missionaries consider themselves to be doing God's work, religious Jews consider them to be exactly the seducers towards idolatry mentioned in the verse. (And since Christians often don't realize this, they take offense at anti-missionary efforts.)

Culturally, old *Sefardi* kabbalist to Christian seems too wide a divide. Christianity is no longer an offshoot of Judaism, unlike how Sabbatean kabbalah was an offshoot of mainstream kabbalah. etc. Where would he be receiving the Christian influence to suddenly make this decision?

This is just to explain that while I am not averse to seeing idealogical shifts in people, this particular one does not seem plausible to me.

All the best,

Anonymous said...

Again, I am honored with your generous explanations. Thank you.

For the many years I've been reading traditional Jewish explications on the Chumash, I've never heard of the "ancient Jewish opinion that the Torah was written in several different megillot (scrolls) at different points in the wilderness, with a final redaction." A proto-DH indeed! How old is this opinion? If you've blogged on this, please link.

Although I will take your discussion about closet conversions as a theoretical exploration, let me make my own posiiton clear here: I certainly don't gravitate to the notion that Rav Kaduri became a closet Christian (nor do I think I've written anything to that effect). I'd favor thinking that his handler, Yehoshua Meiri, had something to do with the note before I'd think that the Rav was making reference to Jesus.

I guess when it comes to someone like Rav Kaduri, I tend to credit with him with being careful and intentional with a message like this. Therefore, I envision him from the outset deciding which spelling he would advance and compose his note accordingly. (I'm working on the assumption the message is his composition. He hasn't enlisted a known saying, has he?)

You say he possibly "at the time thought this the regular spelling." If you mean the regular spelling in Tanach (which looks to be the context of your statement), I think the Rav would know, given that it's knowledge that even a Torah naif like me has. However, your point leads me now to the simplest explanation which was probably a given for you all along in this discussion. When it comes today to the way Hebrew speakers named Yehoshua spell their own name, is malei preferred over chaser? Through googling I'm seeing that malei appellations of Yehoshua exist. I guess this settles the issue for me. A malei spelling is not so rarefied a matter in the world that one must resort to considering its appearance in Tanach.

Kol tuv to you and yours.

joshwaxman said...

in terms of the yehoshua business, your suggestion that his handler was intended strikes me as a possibility. (though I have a feeling we'll never know.)

in terms of the compositions with a final redaction, i was a bit inexact in calling the entire approach as a whole ancient. that would be my understanding of what the sources say, but others might understand it differently.

there is a dispute in the gemara (Gittin 60a) as to whether the entire Torah was written all at once or in multiple scrolls throughout the wilderness, between Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish. Each musters scriptural support for his opinion:

"אמר רבי יוחנן משום ר' בנאה, תורה - מגילה מגילה ניתנה, שנאמר 'אז אמרתי הנה-באתי במגלת-ספר כתוב עלי' (תהלים מ, ח). רבי שמעון בן לקיש אומר, תורה - חתומה ניתנה, שנאמר 'לקח את ספר התורה הזאת' " (דברים לא, כו).

though there is subsequent analysis by the setama digmara.

joshwaxman said...

in terms of a redactive, explanatory editing, I think of that as what happened at the end, by the commandment to write down the Torah. IIRC Ibn Ezra points to בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב in Devarim 27 as the scriptural basis for this.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Thank you for your work and responses on this matter. This by far has been the most informative and objective of the sites i have consulted on the "curious" message by Rav Kaduri.

I would be interested to know whether other such revered teachers of Judaism have ever made similar announcements about the revelation of the Name of Mashiah. What did they say if anything?

Also, despite the expansive writings of previous and current Ravs forming the current scriptural tradition, is it ever considered that the Mashiah would be fully contained or understood therein? Even for Christians, with reference to the ancient texts, this would be considered blasphemous.

If we are to explain this note and its signification rationally, I would have to go along with your very logical statements and explanations (despite being almost entirely ignorant to the laws, language and tradition that form this field of knowledge, i wish i could be more help here).

But my real concern relates to what the Rav actually saw or was revealed, if anything, that led him to write this. It would be poor of us to simply take the cold religious stance and simply say, "this does not fit what we know to be true." If our traidtions stand in the way of God's revelation, then I would say let us be bold and shun those traditions.

My take is that the Mashiah will never fit what "we know" to be true about Him.

I would seriously doubt that Rav Kaduri was a crypto-Christian, but i would be cautious about making assumptions about the revelations made to him. This is not about Judaism or Christianity, despite the many technicalities here involved. It is about the Truth...

thank you

Gary W. Harper said...

Mashiach is who Mashiach is. It is up to God, not man, to choose Mashiach. Mashiach may or may not reveal himself. Again that is up to God and Mashiach, not men. Men can argue over names all they want, but the name of Mashiach is known only to God and Mashiach himself. And Mashiach will work God's works, not men's, so he is always rejected by all but the most discerning. My humble opinion. Gary W. Harper

joshwaxman said...

while it may well be up to God to choose mashiach, that does NOT mean that thinking people are unable evaluate the evidence and decide that it is absolutely wacky to interpret Rav Kaduri's letter as an endorsement of Jesus.

unfortunately, people outside of the Jewish religion are unaware of the sociological and theological factors which make it so absurd. and are unaware of their own lack of knowledge, and so cannot be successfully corrected on the matter. and then people write silly books.

Joe in Australia said...

Since this post has been reawakened I might as well add my two cents: the writer was obviously struggling, and it would make perfect grammatical sense is we suppose that a vav failed to register on the paper for some reason and that the word should be "דבריו", "his words". Incidentally, I also think that the acronym works better if it signifies "divrei torah", since that's the topic of the passage.

JewishChristian said...

Regarding the unusual spelling of Yehoshua: In the MT, it's 2 times compared to 194 times for the common spelling.
Deut 3:21 in DSS spells it the normal way. There is no DSS for Jdg 2:7.
DSS uses another spelling rather commonly, which is with a vav after the shin, but no vav after the heh.

I don't think divrei torah is very meaningful. Torah alone in such a case is sufficient. What value-add is there from divrei?

I think it says, "He will lift up the people and prove that my word and His law stand." "my word" is the Rabbi's specific word that the Messiah's name is Yehoshua.

From the Rabbi's earlier comments that the Messiah was currently living in Israel, I don't think he was a Christian. He may have given a true prophecy without really knowing the interpretation of what he said, like Gen 4:1 or in the NT, John 11:49-52.

JewishChristian said...

Correction to my previous post: DSS does have the unusual spelling of Yehoshua in Deut 3:21. There are 2 DSS witnesses here: 4QDeutD has the normal spelling and 4QDeutM has the Rabbi's spelling.

There are 2 other places in DSS where the Rabbi's spelling of Yehoshua is used: Josh 6:7 (where the MT just has "he") regarding Jericho.
Josh 8:3 regarding Ai.

The Samaritan Pentateuch does not have the Rabbi's spelling of Yehoshua anywhere.

Anonymous said...

This is a very helpful posting Joshua. Many thanks! If you are interested to read my Amazon review of Gallups' book, please go to this link:

george said...
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Anonymous said...

Larry -

Why did Eisav use the word "na" when he was asking Yaakov for the lentils, if he didn't even use that word when asking his father for the blessing?

george said...
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george said...
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george said...
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Anonymous said...

Mr. Waxman's analysis and conclusion are most convincing: it's highly improbable that Rav Kaduri was a christian. Here is another example of a name spelled out in final letters:

רוּחַ-אֵל עָשָׂתְנִי וְנִשְׁמַת שַׁדַּי תְּחַיֵּנִי God’s spirit has made me, and Shakai’s breath has quickened me (Job 33:4). יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshua, cf. Nehemiah 8:17), is spelled out with equidistant letter skips of five, in reverse, starting with the penultimate מָשִׁיחַ ;י (mashiaḥ), Messiah, is spelled out starting with מ in equidistant letter skips of two.

joshwaxman said...

thanks. regarding the equidistant skips, such a skip is statistically irrelevant. because the letters involved are so incredibly common (with vav and yud being used for morphology [to denote who is taking the action, or who something belongs to], and shin being also a very frequent letter), and because the word is so short (only four letters), you will get this all over the place.

(I'm currently writing Torah code software so I am running these queries and find it out, and am getting a sense as to the prevalence of these patterns.)

thus, ישוע will be found in the Torah text (not just Nechemia) at equidistant skips of 1-999 (or at least, in 993 out of those 999). But swap the ayin for a slightly more common resh, and ישור will be found in the Torah text at equidistant skips of all of the 1-999 out of those 999). In contrast, introduce a less common letter like samech, and ישוס will only be found in 603 out of the range 1-999.

That one instance of this incredibly common pattern happens to overlap with a word of mashiach is likewise irrelevant.

joshwaxman said...

משיח, by the way, in skips of 966 out of the range of 1-999. So also extremely common.

tillerofthesoil said...

Thanks for your follow up comments Josh. I totally agree with them. It was perhaps irresponsible of me to offer that example without stating my own positional; I don't want to be misunderstood: I am a traditional Torah and Mitsvot Jew who in no way acknowledges Jesus the Nazarite as a messiah or a god, perish the thought.

I shared that example merely to posit that perhaps according to our tradition and its internal logic there is a way to understand Rav Kaduri's letter, assuming it is authentic. As Rabbi Yeḥiel of Paris once said, "Not every Louis... is the King of France [!]"

I don't believe in the veracity of finding current political events hidden in verses of Tanakh but there is something to equidistant letter skips, especially when they answer the simple meaning of a verse:

“A major principle, according to the Gaon [of Vilna], appears in Sifra de-Tsni’uta, [and that is] everything that was, is, and will be in all the upper and lower worlds, as well as all the general and particular things that will happen in every generation—all these are hinted at in the Torah [cf. M Avot 5:26: Ben Bag-Bag said: Turn it [Torah] over and over for everything is in it; BT Ta’anit 9a: Is there anything written in the Writings to which allusion cannot be found in the Torah?]… every person can find his name and mission in verses” (Qol ha-Tor 1:1; 3:11).

Some compelling examples:

אִם-לַלֵּצִים הוּא-יָלִיץ וְלַעֲנָוִים יִתֶּן-חֵן But to the humble he grants favor (Proverbs 3:34)—אֱלִיָּהוּ חי, Elijah lives, is spelled out by the initial letters of the verse (Arizal).

אוֹר זָרֻעַ לַצַּדִּיק וּלְיִשְׁרֵי-לֵב שִׂמְחָה Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright of heart (Psalms 97:11)—ר עֲקִיבַה, R. Akiva, is spelled out in the final letters of the verse (Arizal).

עִיר וְקַדִּישׁ מִן-שְׁמַיָּא נָחִת And behold, a watcher, a holy one came down from heaven (Daniel 4:10)—שׁמעוֹן, Shim’on, is spelled out by the initial letters of the verse (Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav, Lekhu Hazu).

כִּי לֹא תִשָּׁכַח מִפִּי זַרְעו For it shall not be forgotten in the mouth of his seed (Deuteronomy 31:21)—יוֹחַאי, Yoḥai, is spelled out in the final letters of the verse (Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav, Liqqutei Moharan, cf. BT Shabbat 138b: The Torah is destined to be forgotten from Israel).

לְמַעַן) רְבוֹת מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם) (So that) My portents may be multiplied in the land of Egypt (Exodus 11:9)—רמבּם, Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), is spelled out by the initial letters of the verse.

נַחַל נֹבֵעַ מְקוֹר חָכְמָה A flowing stream, the wellspring of wisdom (Proverbs 18:4)—נַחמָן, Naḥman, is spelled out by the initial letters of the verse (Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav, Liqqutei Moharan, Ḥayei Moharan, 189).

וְנֹקֵב שֵׁם-יְהוָה מוֹת יוּמָת And he who invokes YHWH’s name shall be doomed to die (Leviticus 24:16). יֵשׁוּ (Yeshu), Jesus, is spelled out in reverse, indicating judgment, by the first three letters of the first three words (Rabbi Meir Paprish [Poppers], Ohr Ner).

joshwaxman said...

I don't believe in the significance of first-letter-of-word encodings either, so perhaps I am not the one to best argue this. However, I see no one else prepared to do so, and so will take on the task.

There is a major qualitative and quantitative difference between these examples of yours and Torah Codes.

The prophet Jeremiah said (23:28):
הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר-אִתּוֹ חֲלוֹם, יְסַפֵּר חֲלוֹם, וַאֲשֶׁר דְּבָרִי אִתּוֹ, יְדַבֵּר דְּבָרִי אֱמֶת: מַה-לַתֶּבֶן אֶת-הַבָּר, נְאֻם-ה.
"The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath My word; let him speak My word faithfully. What hath the straw to do with the wheat? saith the LORD."

Just because prophecy and dreams bear similarities does not make them equals. One is chaff and the other is wheat.

I may make it into a post, but in short:

The qualitative difference
In works of literature produced by humans, authors employ anagrams as a literary device. Thus, interpreters of that literary text might be expected to look for such messages and (since dibra Torah kilshon benei Adam) it is not surprising for a Divine author to likewise employ it. Utilizing the last letters of words, rather than the first letters, is a simple extension of this.

In contrast, the use of equal skip letters throughout a text, backwards and forwards, with overlapping words in a grid formed by those letters was not historically used as a literary device. It is more like a cipher or steganography than a literary device. The claim is that this message could be intended and deployed alongside the plaintext by someone with Divine Powers. Sure, but a "could" is not the same as a "would".

The quantitative difference
First-letter-encodings: There are 79,847 words in the Torah, which means the corpus formed by first letters of words is of size 79,847. Similarly, the corpus formed by last letters of words is of size 79,847.

If one searches and finds a message, this is looking for and finding a needle in a haystack.

Torah codes: There are 304,805 letters in the Torah. That means that the corpus for an ELS (skip length) of 1 is 304,805.

What about for an ELS of 2? Well, the corpus size would be half of 304,805 letters, because we are only looking at only every other letter. But there are two such corpora -- one beginning with the Bet of Bereishit (and looking at every odd letter) and one beginning with the Resh of Bereishit (and looking at every even letter). So we have a total corpus, for ELS of 2, of 304,805.

What about for an ELS of 3? Each corpus is a third the size, but there are three such corpora. So, total length of of 304,805.

ELS of 4? Each corpus is a quarter the size, but there are four such corpora. So, total length of 304,805.

And so on and so forth. That means that the total length of the corpus, considering every positive number ELS, 304,805 squared. That is 92,906,088,025 letters. That is 92 billion letters. And if we consider negative ELS as well, it is twice that, 185,812,176,050. That is 185 billion letters.

Compare 185 billion letters to search through for Torah codes vs. 79 thousands letters to search through for first-letter acronyms. Of course you are going to find something. Given how many instances there will be, of course in a few of them you will be able to convince yourself that there is some significant tie-in to the enclosing verses.

This is searching for hay in a haystack and declaring it to be a needle!

There is only one ELS that I am persuaded carries an intended message. That is an ELS of +1.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

The word יוכיח appears only once in torah in bereshit 31.37.

Anonymous said...

Where is the Bet Hey or the Bet Samekh Dalet at the top of the note? The gentiles who forged this note either didn't know about it or forgot to add it. Dummies. Rav Kaduri would never write a "note" without those letters on top.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

In all likelihood this is a forgery by the student of Rav kaduri now exposed as a Christian missionary - Michael elk ("elkohen" )

Anonymous said...

"Yehoshua" refers to Joshua, that is, Joshua ben Nun from the tribe of ----------- EPHRAIM. That is the name of the Messiah.


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