“I am statistically significant” – was a sign
written on a t-shirt I used to wear while in
Since the issue of Torah codes is subject to so many people’s writings one could only wonder what I am hoping to add? The answer is twofold: first of all I want to describe certain historical details regarding how the ideas of codes were used by Rabeinu Weissmandel. Secondly, I can add my personal experience with the codes I found BS”D and let the reader arrive to their own conclusions. Our sages teach: “Nikarim divrey emes” – the words of truth can be perceived. This statement in my opinion can be fully applied to those people who are involved in the Torah codes research. One can usually distinguish between those who have something to hide and perpetrate a hoax and those who are honest. In case of my contact with professor Rips since the time he gave me the program the day after Chanukka and until now I can only get convinced that his sole interest is that others can independently verify the findings and see for themselves the truthfulness of the codes. This alone attests to professional honesty and integrity.
It is known that one of primary objections to the codes is similar to the famous allegory of the Maggid of Dubno, about the one who shoots arrows and then draws a circle around the places where they landed. This way he creates an impression of perfect hit! The same way the Torah codes researchers are being blamed for first finding what fits and then presenting it to public, while hiding all the cases of the “hidden failures” where the error missed the target.
Indeed there is nothing new about this type of accusation. Similar charges have been made by scientists in various areas a number of times and indeed there were many situations when “researches” were caught red-handed on perpetrating a hoax. There were even cases of scientists who actually hid something in the earth so as to later “discover” it and write long scientific papers about it (see letters of Chazon Ish 1:206). However regarding the Torah codes my experience tells me that this is definitely not the case. I will present my findings and let the reader make his own conclusions.
Let me first give a historic introduction. The general consensus of Torah Codes researches is to credit Rabeinu Michoel Dov Weissmandel with the first discovery of what later became known as the “Torah Codes”. Rabeinu Weissmandel himself was an extremely modest man who wrote only one book in his life which we will later describe. In the world of Holocaust historians, Rabeinu Weissmandel is known as one of the foremost members of Hatzalah who saved thousands of people during the World War II. After coming to America, he re-established his Slovakian yeshiva in the town of Mount Kisco in Upstate New York. Rabinu Weissmandel passed away only 12 years after the Holocaust, but his yeshiva and the nearby settlement continues to function till this day. His righteous widow TLIT”A brought up their children born after the Holocaust and she continues to live in Mount Kisco.
great humbleness and meekness of Rabinu Weissmandel was what caused him not to
publish his findings and everything we know about his Torah Codes research
comes from his students. He revealed some of his results while in
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Only a small part of the book is devoted to letters of the Torah research.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Even that research contains primarily not what we would call “Torah Codes” today. There are a number of various hints in the Torah including numbers of letters; numbers of words; first letters of sequential words; Gematrias (numerical values); small and large letters in the text; and at last ELS’s (letters equidistant from each other) – what we now call the Torah Codes.
<![if !supportLists]>- <![endif]>Most of the ELS’s of Rabeinu Wiessmandel have a specific distance carrying some significance. It is often 49, 50 or 613 or a Gematria (or number of letters) of some word or expression related to that ELS itself.
When once asked how did he arrive to the idea of looking for equidistant letters in the Torah, Rabeinu Weissmandel answered that it occurred to him when he read Rabeinu Bachye’s commentary on the Chumash (this was one of his favorite commentaries which he got as a Bar Mitzvah present and which he held in his hands right before dying). It is worth noting that Rabeinu Bachye brings in his commentary tens of other types of hints (numbers of letters or words; first letters of words; Gematrias etc). Yet only once does he use a “Torah Code”, in his commentary to Bereishis 1:2 when he discusses the primordial new moon that is the starting point from which we count all subsequent new moons until today<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. The prehistoric new moon is fixed at second day (Beis), fifth hour (Hei) and 204 (Reish-Dalet) chalakim (chalakim are 1/1080 parts of an hour, i.e. slightly more than 3 seconds, a time to take one breath). Thus the hint for the primordial new moon is B H R D (2 – 5 – 204). Rabeinu Bachye then explains that this time for new moon is hinted with skips of 42 letters from the first letter of the Torah.
Some people asked why Rabeinu Bachye is using 42 letter skips? After all, a short word like “BHRD” appears with many different skips all over Torah? The truth is that there is a great Kabalistic significance in what Rabeinu Bachye wrote. The GR”A explains in his commentary to Tikuney Zohar (end of forth Tikun) that there are 3 mystical 42-letter Names of Hashem in-between these letters of “BHRD”. These names come from Gevurah (Divine Strength) and were used in the creation of the world. According to this even the single “code” mentioned in Rabeinu Bachye is not exactly the Torah Code but rather a Kabalistic concept he is hinting too. But note, Rabeinu Weissmandel never claimed that Rabeinu Bachye uses Torah Codes in his commentary. He just answered how the idea to try to look for equal letter skips occurred to himself. Our thinking is certainly associative and once he saw a “similar” idea in Rabeinu Bachye’s commentary he tried it himself and it worked. We will later see that the current Torah Codes research is not exactly similar to what Rabeinu Weissmandel did and yet the idea clearly comes from him. We know in general that “Lika midi delo ramiza beoraisa” – there is nothing that’s not hinted in the Torah. But the exact ways of hints are many and Torah Codes research concentrates on just one of them.
We will now discuss some examples of Rabeinu Weissmandel’s findings including that ones that are not exactly Torah codes. These examples are all taken from Sefer “Toras Chemed”.
Examples of numbers of letters and words:
There are two holidays called Atzeres – the Shavuos Holiday and the Shmini Atzeres. The Torah portion that is read during the Shmini Atzeres as well as during the second day of Shavuos has exactly 960 words, like the Gematria of the word “Atzeres<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>”.
Examples of Gematrias:
Yehoshua and Mordechai both fought Amalek. However Yehoshua fought a physical battle while Mordechai – spiritual one. Our sages teach that the Divine Name Y-H-V-H is not full until Amalek is destroyed. The Gematria of “Yehoshua” is the same as the Divine Name (26) plus 365 (number of negative commandments). The Gematria of “Mordechai” is the same as the Divine Name (26) plus 248 (number of positive commandments). It is known that the physical hanhaga has to do with the left side, while the spiritual – with the right, that’s why in case of Yehoshua we take the number of negative commandments and in case of Mordechai – the number of positive ones.
Examples of use of small and large letters:
is known that the Holy Tongue has no capital letters, all the letters in the
Torah the same. However there are a few letters that are written smaller or
larger than the rest. The reasons for this are generally unknown although there
are some interpretations offered in Midrash “The Letters of Rabbi Akiva” and in
other sources. Rabeinu Weissmandel found that in Megilas Ester, in the place
where the names of ten sons of Haman who were hanged are written there are 3
small letters and one large one. The small letters spell the year “707” while
the big one points to the sixth millennia, thus the total year hinted being
5707. This was the year when ten Nazi criminals were hanged by the allies after
Examples of “Codes”:
As we mentioned, many codes found by Rabinu Weissmandel are with skips of 49 or 50 letters. The question is why? Indeed Rabeinu Weissmandel himself wrote the letters of Torah on cards with 50 letters per line which made it a lot easier to notice a code with skips of 49 or 50. In that case there is no reason today to limit the research to such codes since using the computer we can look for codes of any length. Even though 49 or 50 letter skips may give significant results, as far as I know all the research today does not concentrate on skips of these lengths. Some examples of Rabinu Weissmandel’s codes are:
- Bereishis and Shemos having the word “Tora” in 50 letter skips both in the beginning and the end of each book. Bemidbar and Devarim have the same word backwards also both in the beginning and the end of each book. It’s as if the Torah pointing from all side to the middle, like a Menorah. The middle book (Vayikra) has the Divine Name in the beginning with seven letter skips.
- Our sages (Yalkut Shimoni, 18) teach that the world was created for the sake of Avraham. Indeed “Avraham” appears in the Torah with 50 letter skips in the passage dealing with creating the first man.
- The last of the miracles to be commemorated by additional commandments in the Jewish Law was Chanukka. The word Matityahu appears in the very end of the Torah with 50 letter skips.
Truma and Peah are two mitzvos that have to do with the
The most famous example is Rambam – once the greatest sages we ever had who
As you can see the findings of Rabeinu Weissmandel are quite impressive but it very hard to calculate the exact probabilities of them randomly appearing. This would depend on how many other things Rabeinu Weissmandel tried and did not succeed, on how significant is number 50 and on other factors. Rebeinu Weissmandel himself said that he knows where other sages are hinted but this is unfortunately one of the secrets that he took with him. Moreover his findings generally include a number of factors like first letters of words and Gematrias and these are hard to analyze statistically and it is also difficult to look for new Torah Codes in his style.
When Professor Eliyahu Rips and Rabbi Doron Witztum learned about the findings of Rabeinu Weissmandel and started looking for more Torah codes they got convinced that the phenomenon actually exists, but the question was: how to prove this statistically? The experiments had to be thorough and precise. The problem with this analysis is that relatively small words can appear thousands of times in the Torah with equal skips. However longer phrases are very unlikely to appear. With each extra letter, the probability goes down by a factor of about 20. Thus for instance a phrase of 20 letters has extremely low probabilities of occurring as ELS. As you can see on the paper by Professor Rips, http://www.evrey.com/sitep/conference/soobschen.htm and on the site of Rabbi Art Levitt http://www.torahcodes.net/new/pages/lecture_tt.html there are a number of phrases found as ELS’s in Torah that have more than 20 letters. One example is: “I will call you an outcast, cursed is Bin Laden and the revenge is [left] for Moshiach”. I personally challenged the opponents of the Torah codes some time ago if they can find even one meaningful phrase of 20 letters in any book other than Torah. So far the challenge is left unanswered.
Another possibility of looking for statistically significant codes was suggested by Rav Witztum. He offered to look for minimal skips of letters for the words. Even though a 5 or 6 letter word will appear in many places in the Torah, it will usually appear in just one place with minimal skips. The question will then be of how significant is the appearance. One way to check this is by testing if words that have a connection also appear with minimal skips in close proximity. Indeed the “Famous Rabbis Experiment” was based on this idea. The dates of birth and death of a list of rabbis was checked against their names. The appearances of the smallest skips for the date and the name proved to give significant results. Similarly Dr. Harold Gans checked the closeness of the cities these rabbis lived in against their names and also achieved success.
Another interesting idea is to see where the smallest skip for a particular word appears in the Torah and the context of the verses that pass through this skip. It is this idea that I personally picked up on and it immediately gave me interesting results. Obviously one can claim that I had tried hundreds of different words or phrases and am only showing the interesting ones. However this claim can be only made only if I showed a small number of results with probabilities in the order of 10% or so. If for instance many examples are shown and their probabilities seem lower than 1% than even if I had tried many more examples and they failed, the successful results are still significant. In truth however, in the two weeks of trying I so far ran only 242 searches. Though my findings are not very rigorous, I think they are interesting enough so I wanted to share them. After all, even if the findings look like they are not a priory, since their probabilities are quite low and there are a number of them, I would have to search for tens of thousands of examples in the hope of maybe randomly getting some that will be as significant.
1) I first tried to follow Rabeinu Weissmandel’s footsteps and looked for the shortest ELS for Matityahu. It appeared with 6 letter skips in Bemidbar (10:9):
וְכִי תָבֹאוּ מִלְחָמָה בְּאַרְצְכֶם עַל הַצַּר הַצֹּרֵר אֶתְכֶם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹת וְנִזְכַּרְתֶּם לִפְנֵי יְ-הֹוָה אֱ-לֹהֵיכֶם וְנוֹשַׁעְתֶּם מֵאֹיְבֵיכֶם
And if a war will come to your land against an enemy who tyrannizes you, then you shall blow with the trumpets; and you shall be remembered before the Hashem your G-d, and you shall be saved from your enemies.
The verse right before reads: “And the sons of Aaron, the priests shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations”.
Seems like an interesting summary of the entire Chanuka story. The question remains if there was actual blowing of trumpets during that war. Here is what I found in Josephus (Antiqueties 7:7:4):
So he commanded the trumpeters to sound for the battle; and by thus falling upon the enemies when they did not expect it, and thereby astonishing and disturbing their minds, he slew many of those that resisted him, and went on pursuing the rest as far as Gadara, and the plains of Idumea, and Ashdod, and Jamnia; and of these there fell about three thousand.
Here is a quote from the Book of Maccabees 1:3:54: “Then sounded they with trumpets, and cried with a loud voice”.
Now I challenge any reader to find a better verse in the Torah that would summarize the Chanuka story<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. We have almost 6000 verses in the Torah and interestingly Matityahu appears with smallest skips in the most appropriate one<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>!
2) Next I decided to look for other important people in our history. I tried King Dovid, King Solomon and Shmuel the Prophet. I used the phrases that are most common for how these people are pronounced and how they appear in all our literature: DOVIDHAMELECH, SHLOMOHAMELECH and SHMUELHANAVI. In case of DOVIDHAMELECH I spelled Dovid with Yod, the way he is spelled in Divrey Hayamim which is the spelling that gives him greater importance, (see Rashi on Divrey Hayamim 2:15). The other reason I started with this longer spelling is that I prefer to get fewer “codes” and since seven letter sequences often appear in the Torah more than once, I would prefer to use 8-letter sequences that are uncommon. I honestly did not check where the spelling without Yud ends up but I did later run a quest to see that indeed that spelling appears many times and therefore is less interesting<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. When spelling with the Yod, there is one occurrence of the ELS for DOVIDHAMELECH. The interesting discovery is that practically all the significant events of Dovid’s life are hinted near this ELS. The following 8 verses cross the words DOVIDHAMELECH.
Bereishis 30:40: Yakov pasturing the flocks of Lavan.
Bereishis 34:11-12: And Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what you will say to me I will give. Ask me ever so much as dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the girl for a wife.
37:35-36: And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he
refused to be comforted; and he said: “For I will go down to Sheol to my son,
mourning”. Thus his father wept for him. And the Midianites sold him in
41:44: And Pharaoh said to Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without you shall no man
lift up his hand or foot in all the
Bereishis 44:30: Now therefore when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us; and his soul is attached to his soul.
Bereishis 48:16: The angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Yitzchak.
3:12: When you bring forth the people out of
Shemos 7:19: And Hashem spoke to Moshe: “Say to Aaron, Take your rod, and stretch out your hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood”; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in utensils of wood, and in utensils of stone.
We will now discuss each of these verses separately.
1. Yakov pasturing flocks: perfectly fits the beginning of Dovid’s life.
2. I will give any as dowry for the girl – fits into Dovid risking his life to kill 100 Plishtim in order to marry Michal. The same word is used here for “dowry”.
3. His father cried after him – fits Dovid’s crying after Avshalom died during the rebellion.
You will be the sole ruler – fits Dovid becoming the king over all
5. His soul is attached to his soul – compare to the love of Dovid and Yehonasan where exactly the same expression is used. The wording of “the soul being tied up with another soul” is used only in these two places in the entire Tanach.
6. Yakov blessing Yosef’s children that his name as well as the names of Avraham and Yitzchak will be called upon them. Compare this to Dovid’s prayer that just as Hashem is called the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchak and the G-d of Yakov, He should also be called the G-d of Dovid. Indeed in Kabalistic literature Dovid is called “the fourth leg in the Merkava” (see also our word on Parshas Vayerah.htm).
You shall serve G-d upon this mountain. After the plaque is stopped, Dovid buys
the place on
8. Blood is everywhere – our sages teach that Dovid was predisposed to spill blood, and that's why Shmuel did not want to anoint him at first. However Hashem said that Dovid will be spilling blood of our enemies Leshem Shamaim.
Note that an ELSs for the word "BasSheva" is passing nearby as well with Bas Sheva having probability of about 7%.
ELS for ShlomoHamelech appears a few times in the Torah. I studied the minimal
skip. All the verses that pass through these letters deal with either the
construction of the Tabernacle or bringing of
4) ShmuelHanavi appears only once which in itself is interesting since this is a 10 letter sequence. The probability of a word this long to appear at all is about 3%. On top of it, the name of his father Elkana appears in close proximity with probability of about 10%. The name of his Rebbe EliHacohen also appears close with a similar probability. I later ran this combination of ShmuelHanavi with Elkana and EliHacohen against 2000 other random texts and got a score of 20 and 29 respectively (about 1% probability for each). After this Professor Rips performed a search for the expression “prayer of Chana” and it also came out in the close proximity with probability of less than 3%. The pesukim that pass through SHMUELHANAVI are somewhat related to his life, and further research is necessary.
5) Besides the positive personalities from our past, I also tried a negative one. The code for “MOSHIACHSHEKER” (false Moshiach) appears once in the Torah. One of the verses that pass through it is (Shemos 30:33) is talking about anointing oil: “Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it upon a stranger, shall be cut off from his people”. Since Moshiach literarily means “anointed” this verse is very appropriate to the concept: a person who misuses the anointing oil will get Kares. The challenge again is whether there is a different verse in the Torah that can better fit the concept of false Moshiach. What’s even more amazing is that the phrase does not end with MOSHIACHSHEKER but continues. The next letters spell the word ASHAM – is at fault. The entire message is then: “false Messiah is at fault”. Since many people throughout history assumed themselves to be the Moshiach, one can think that it is often not their own fault. However the Code here states otherwise (see also Rambam, “The Letter to Yemenite Jews” who discusses this topic). I next looked for an ELS of Bar Koziba – arguably the most famous of false Moshiachs<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>. Note that this is the way he is spelled in our texts (Talmud, Sanhedrin 93b; Eicha Raba; Yalkut Shimoni). Though non-Jews usually call him Bar Kochba, this expression is not found anywhere in our writings. The ELS for BarKoziba appeared in close proximity to the ELS for MOSHIACHSHEKER with probability of less than 10%. Professor Rips and I also found other false Messiahs around the same area but further research is necessary to determine the exact probabilities. One possibility is to take the names of all false Moshiachs in our history and see if their appearance in this section of Torah is statistically significant.
6) Last but certainly not least, I searched for the ELS of the founder of Torah codes, "MICHOELDOV". The only book that he wrote by himself is called Min Hametzar and it deals with the effort to save the Jewish people during the Holocaust. I found that the ELS for "MINHAMETZAR" passes near his name with probability of about 3%. The themes of the verses that pass through his name are from the meetings between Moshe and Pharaoh and the saving of the Jewish people! These verses can be connected to Rabienu Wiessmandel’s effort to save our nation through meeting with Gestapo and SS leaders throughout the World War II. Even minor details of his operation are hinted. For example, in the verses that pass through the beginning of “MICHOELDOV” describe how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he did not let the Jewish people leave. Then Hashem told Moshe to meet Pharaoh when he is going out to relieve himself. Interestingly the policy of Rabeinu Wiessmandel which he also shared with his working group, was that in order not to be afraid of the Nazi in charge of Jewish annihilation (Dieter Wisliceny), when talking to him one should imagine that the Nazi is sitting on a toilet<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>! What’s even more interesting is that the name Wisliceny appears as ELS in the same area with probability of about 2%.
When I reported my findings to Professor Rips, I did not tell him how I spelled the name Dov and how I spelled Min Hametzar (there are two ways to spell Dov, the full way and the short way without writing the Vav and two ways to spell Meitzar - with the "yud" or without). He checked my results but he used a different spelling and got even more impressive results with probability better than 1/300. I found that out when he sent me the resulting table (see below, my computer does not allow making exporting tables in picture format). This code of Rabeinu Weissmandel’s name also appeared in the Torah in the story of Exodus and many verses can be understood as hints about Rabeinu Weissmandel’s life. As we mentioned the opponents of Torah codes often claim that there are many “hidden” failures that we do not show. In this case we are dealing with a clear “hidden success” where the original spelling I tried produces a result that is significant but there is actually a far more significant result that Professor Rips found<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]>!
In conclusion I would like to recommend a book dealing with the topic of Torah Codes. It is called “And all this is truth” by Dr. Rotenberg, and it can be found on http://www.torahcodes.net/bookall.html
What I shared with you are only a fraction of the many other discoveries that BS”D I was able to find. As I mentioned, my research is not very rigorous in terms of probabilities, and in some cases a skeptic would probably find room to argue or even ridicule many points I made. However I still wanted to share some of my findings, as it says: “The ways of Hashem are straightforward, righteous walk in them while the wicked stumble in them” (Hoshea 14:10).
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Rambam, Laws of Kidush Hachodesh 6:8. Indeed two pieces of information are needed to correctly compute the new moons: the starting point, and the average lunar month. Both are received by tradition and we are still using our accurate calendar till this very day.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Toras Chemed for more similar examples. This seems to indicate that when our sages determined what portions of Torah to read during which holiday they kept in mind using various hints and Gematrias as well, probably hoping that one day someone will discover this.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> A few similarities are pointed out. There were many war criminals judged but exactly 11 were supposed to be hanged, and one (who happened to be gay) committed suicide he brought the number down to ten. Indeed our sages teach that Haman’s daughter committed suicide. The Nazis were actually appealing that they should be executed by another method, but their appeal was rejected by the allies. The criminals were hanged on the day of Hoshana Raba, the last Day of Judgment according to our tradition. The parallel between them and the ten sons of Haman was so obvious that one of the Nazis actually cried his final words in German: “Purim festival of 1946”.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Note that while the Torah Codes of a four or five letter word are expected to appear numerous times in any text and even six-letter codes are very common, the first letters of consecutive words occur a lot less often. Therefore by trying a particular four-letter sequence most often we don’t find it as first letters of consecutive words even once.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> One might argue that the miracle of the Menorah is not mentioned in this verse and therefore the verses of the Torah dealing with Menorah are more appropriate. However we know that the main miracle of Chanukah was obviously not the Menorah. Indeed in our prayer of Al Hanisim we don’t even mention this miracle. Moreover, Matityahu never lit the Menorah and died before the war was over. Note also that an ELS’s for the word Menorah also passes near this posuk. However I am not sure there is any significance in this since this word is relatively short and can be expected to appear with relatively high probability.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Again, a skeptical reader might claim that there other words related to Chanukah that I had tried and did not succeed. The truth is I only tried Matityahu since that was what Rabeinu Weissmandel found. However, even if the accusation was true, and let’s say there are ten words related to Chanukah that are worth to try, still the probability of even one appearing in this verse is amazing low, less than 0.2%.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> However it is worthwhile researching the second spelling as well since the Torah may code a person with more than one spelling, see below the case of Rabeinu Weissmandel.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> Bar Koziba was supported by the greatest sage of his generation: Rabbi Akiva. This is probably the only false Moshiach that was supported by a sage of such caliber. (Yishu Hanotzri for instance was not supported by a single sage or any knowledgeable Jew and was only able to impress ignoramuses.)
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> See Ish Chamudos – Rabeinu Wiessmandel’s biography published by his grandson.
<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> In general, both spelling can be real codes that were put in the Torah for a purpose. Even in the open text of the Torah sometimes different spellings are used for the same word, with Vav’s and Yud’s or without them. This usually hints to different aspects of the same person, with the full spelling being the more honorable one. Here too, the Codes of Torah may be hinting to various aspects of Rabeinu Weissmandel’s life. The last verse that passes through the second code, which spells MICHOELDOV without the Vav, tells about Hashem’s anger with Moshe’s delay to circumcise his son. This may be a hint to what was happening during the saving of the Jewish People, although Rabeinu Weissmandel tried to be as fast as he could, he was often prevented and delayed, see Min Hametzar.