Thursday, June 30, 2011

Minchas Shai on the Gog-bama Torah Code

Yeranen Yaakov has been running an English translation / presentation of someone's masterpiece as to why 2012 is the time of mashiach, according to (mis-)interpretations of Zohar and the Gra. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7 there.

In part 5, we read:
 Similarly, the Zohar notes that close to the end of the 72 years, the nations of the world will be energized against Yerushalayim, and it will be "and it is a time of trouble unto Jacob, but out of it shall he be saved," that which unfortunately, we already see in our days that the United States is going against Yerushalayim. And also the President of the United States Obama [אובאמה] is hinted to in the verse (Yehezkel 38:2): "בֶּן-אָדָם, שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ אֶל-גּוֹג אֶרֶץ הַמָּגוֹג--נְשִׂיא, רֹאשׁ מֶשֶׁךְ וְתֻבָל; וְהִנָּבֵא, עָלָיו. וְאָמַרְתָּ, כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה" ['Son of man, set thy face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say: Thus saith the Lord GOD...] with a 7-letter skip. [YY - See Yehudi Yerushalmi and Shirat Devorah as examples where this was mentioned previously.]  And also Magog, the land of Gog, in gematria is 52, which equals the number of states in the United States [YY - I'll assume the author is including Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, but this is a bit far-fetched.  צ"ע.]
 I'd like to consider this Obama Torah Code for a moment. Firstly, it is not really a Torah code. It is a Navi code. While I think the Torah codes are nonsense, all the research, and I am pretty sure your typical Torah code, is done on Torah, not on Neviim and Ketuvim. And there is a theological divide between the two. There is a kabbalistic idea of the Torah being a long encoded Divine Name; not so for Neviim and Ketuvim. And Torah was direct Divine revelation to a prophet whose caliber will not be repeated, such that we might expect to find hidden messages in Torah more than that of some random navi. And so on and so forth. So a 'Torah'-code in Yechezkel is somewhat out of the ordinary.

There is also the question of whether this 'Torah'-code even works. It assumes a skip length of seven. But Minchas Shai on this pasuk reads:

On Yechezkel 38:2, "In most precise sefarim the vav is missing {in Tuval}, and so too the one in the pasuk after it. And there are sefarim in which both of them are malei {with the vav present}."

Thus, the entire Ezekiel Code is predicated on assuming that the text we have in our Mikraos Gedolos is letter-accurate. But it is possible that it is not, and that the relatively few precise sefarim which have both Tuvals malei are correct. If so, then this would be the seven letter skip:

בֶּן-אָדָם, שִׂים פָּנֶיךָ אֶל-גּוֹג אֶרֶץ הַמָּגוֹג--נְשִׂיא, רֹאשׁ מֶשֶׁךְ וְתובָל; וְהִנָּבֵא, עָלָיו. וְאָמַרְתָּ, כֹּה אָמַר אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה

This would them spell Onoy. I don't know who Onoy is, but if he is Gog, then surely Barack Hussein Obama is not!

There is also the wiggle room issue. In Hebrew, one can spell Obama in a number of ways. And thus one can run these searches and find the best match for the content you want, and then select the spelling later. As is pointed out in this blog, this is not the standard way of spelling Obama, with two alephs. Rather, from their campaign pins.

Indeed, doing a Google News search on recent news, on the two spellings, without the second aleph yielded about 625 hits, from a number of different Israeli news sources, while with that second aleph yielded only 23 hits, from far fewer sites.

There is also the undercurrent of lunacy that pervades this sort of Obama / Gog allegation. It is associated with conspiracy theories about his birth certificate, associations with the Illuminati, the New World Order, and so on and so forth. I opposed it back when it was President Gog Bush and I oppose it for President Barack Gogbama. It is silly.

I suppose he included it because it makes for even "better" proof of the coming apocalypse. But I think that this is one instance in which Chazal's statement of ""kol hamosif, gorea " strongly applies.


yaak said...

Thanks for the links, even if done to be critical. I'm in the process of updating all the posts with the latest pdf from the author. I'm currenly on the third part, so check back in a few days for more updates.

Regarding what you wrote, I'm not sure why you care about standard spelling. In Gittin, there are spelling rules based on pronunciation and not always on standard spelling.

In this case, if someone came from Mars knowing Hebrew and the word אובמה was presented to him, he'd think it was pronounced "Obma" or "Ovma" - not "Obama". The Alef definitely helps the reader.

Regarding the Minhat Shai, OK - good point, but so what? According to some sefarim, it works. I'll call it "a code with an asterisk". These are all just Remazim anyways. No one is deriving any halacha from it. It's not gorei'a at all.

For the record, I have no idea if Obama is Gog or not. But I contend that it is possible to be (if I can coin a phrase) a Goger without being a birther. By attributing lunacy to this code, it shows your disdain for Geula blogs in general. This may earn you praise with some of your rationalistic readership, but it doesn't look good on your record.

joshwaxman said...

"In Gittin, there are spelling rules based on pronunciation and not always on standard spelling."

I am thinking back to the great Torah code experiment of Witzum, Rips, and Rosenberg, in which it was only statistically significant because of an a priori determination of how it is to be spelled. without this, there are so many variations that you can pick ANY message and demonstrate it -- that Obama is really Kenyan, that he is the masiach, that he is the tooth fairy.

more later...

yaak said...

Yes - exactly. And that's why it's "better" to spell Obama with an Alef, being that we don't have any early source for spelling a name like that.

joshwaxman said...

bli neder, i'll reply when i get the chance, why this ex post facto explanation is unconvincing.

but isn't the final 'a' of Obama to be transliterated as an א rather than a ה? I'll have to review the relevant section in Shulchan Aruch.



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