Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Validating the Torah Codes

Rabbinical Support for the use of Torah Codes

Question: Is it allowed to show the truth of the Torah or try to prove its truth in different ways like the words which appear in Torah at equal interval skip distances.

Answer: I was surprised and wondered about such a foolish question. It does not require thought. It is simple. It is a great mitzvah to do it. In every generation the Sages of Israel, who were the experts to answer the atheists, used ways appropriate to their generation to prove the truth of Torah. Look at the tractate Hulin, page 60b. The Sages ask: Was Moses a hunter or did he know all the animals in the world, [to be able to say that the only ones which chew their cud and do have split hooves or which do not chew their cud and do have split hoofs are the ones mentioned in Torah?] The Sages answer from here that Torah is from Heaven. For only G-d knows the characteristics of all the animals. Since the facts show that this kind of proof has a great impact to strengthen the faith that Torah is from Heaven, it is a great mitzvah for those who occupy themselves in these matters. But they must be on a level to properly deal with this on a scientific basis. They must not be like the people who do not know enough who spoil instead of rectifying. All those who occupy themselves in these matters will be blessed by G-d in all blessings which are for those who help others to be more meritorious and bring back those who are far away. Their hands should be strengthened. Heaven forbid, they should not be discouraged by any pious and righteous arguments because those who are arguing out of piety, do not speak with sense. It is better that they should keep quiet.. Blessed will be those who establish words of Torah.

Rabbi Shlomo Fisher This answer was shown to the Gaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Oyarbach by Professor Branover. Rabbi Oyarbach said that he would say the same words:
[Click to enlarge]

A number of contemporary Gedolim and Torah sages have repeatedly given their strong support for the use of Codes as a Kiruv Rechokim tool. Included in this prominent group is the renowned Jerusalem Posek and Rov, Rav Shlomo Fisher. In addition to his own 1989 Psak Din stating that "it is a Mitzvah to teach Codes," Rabbi Fisher recently issued a public letter wherein he states that he met with Doron Witztum and Dr. Rips on several occasions, together with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Zt'l. He testifies that Harav Auerbach not only gave his unequivocal approval of the Codes research but also strongly encouraged the use of this material in Kiruv Rechokim efforts.

Numerous prominent Roshei Yeshiva and Rabbonim have personally sat through Codes presentations at our Discovery seminars. Among those who have attended - and gone on record as supporting the use of Codes for Kiruv Rechokim - are Rav Yaakov Weinberg, Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky, Rav Moshe Heinemann, and Rav Yisrael Meir Kagan. In fact, Mr. Harold Gans, a former senior cryptologic mathematician with the United States' National Security Agency for twenty-eight years, has had a number of long discussions about the Codes with Rav Moshe Heinemann. Despite the recent controversy surrounding the topic, Rav Heinemann remains emphatic in characterizing the Codes as "absolutely part of our Mesorah, and a Kiddush Hashem to teach."

If you want to read more, click here.


Anonymous said...

"They must not be like the people who do not know enough who spoil instead of rectifying."

This says it al for me...

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as "foolish question" in my mind.
Only a foolish reply. I suppose this was just a 'slip'. Never-the-less wise men aught to mind their words... Sorry, Sir, I don't mean to be disrespectful in any way, shape or form. (Nobody's perfect, I suppose) Sigh...

Leah said...

A big yasher koach, Devorah. Very important words for all generations.

joshwaxman said...

Thanks for posting this. This is a great source. And I've seen this discussed before.


(1) Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach approved of it for kiruv purposes, not for derivational purposes. (This is quite similar to the autistic messages, approved for kiruv purposes but explicitly not for derivational purposes.)

(2) That is, if you showed Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach how it was being used, to predict apocalyptic catastrophes in line with the ravings of an insane person, or to support the prophetic nature of someone condemned by the vast majority of major Israeli rabbis, he would likely withdraw his support. Because it is not just kiruv anymore.

Indeed, in the previous thread, Dr. Haralick made clear that these codes should not be granted any predictive value.

(3) I wonder if the frum opponents were given opportunity to present their side, or if it was just cast as a bunch of atheists trying their hardest to disprove the divinity of the Torah.

(4) And the obvious rejection of this, from a frum perspective, it is possible that he would not consider. See S.'s comment here, about whether Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach would consider the tremendous difficulty to Torah codes presented by the existence of Minchas Shai.

Devorah said...

I should have written that these soures were sent by Rabbi Glazerson - you don't have to thank me, thank him.

joshwaxman said...

I'll add one other stress:

Among those who have attended - and gone on record as supporting the use of Codes for Kiruv Rechokim.

I figured as much. This in trying to counter my assertion (in the previous thread) that this is not Torah and is not kabbalah, but rather nonsense and Bibliomancy. I repeat this assertion. And I would like to see an endorsement by all of the above rabbis, such as Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky, to the 2012 Mayan end-of-days prediction and the Planet Nibiru nonsense, where someone from the opposing side was given opportunity to show how it is nonsense. Indeed, even evidence that they have heard the frum opposition to the Torah codes, on a halachic, hashkafic, and mathematical level.

Please don't think that it is only Josh Waxman who thinks this is wrong. Rabbi Gil Student, of Hirhurim, also opposes it. (See here.)

And so says Dr. Barry Simon, an Orthodox opponent of Torah codes:
Can one tell a lie to non-religious Jews to get them to keep Shabbos? Everything that I regard as central to Judaism tells me that the answer is "no". Not only do I, a halachic layperson, think this, but also rabbonim that I’ve consulted say unequivocally that something you even suspect may be false should not be used as part of outreach.

Devorah said...

There is a lot of evidence that Nibiru ["the 10th planet"] is real, notwithstanding all the alien stuff and other strange sources giving it a bad name.

I would expect Torah Codes to show everything that happens in the world, whether it's a made-up rumor or whether it's the truth, if enough people believe in something, it becomes a major event in their minds, and therefore newsworthy, even if it turns out to be a non-event.

The actual outcomes are something we have to wait for, and once we know what the outcome is, we can then find it was there all the time, in the Codes. We just didn't know what words to look for before then.

If we believe the Torah is the blueprint for the entire world [which we do] then even internet rumors and names of potential Planet X's would be mentioned there, whether they were real or not, they are in existence just by people believing in them, they are potential world events and therefore could reasonably be found in the Codes.

In the end it comes down to what kind of emunah you have, you either believe or you don't. Josh, you want to rationalize something which is not rational - it's not logical to believe that codes can occur, unless you fully believe Torah was written by Hashem - a super intelligence- and within it are encoded all the events of the world from start to finish.

Torah is supernatural, and so are the codes. It is above derech hateva.

There are many ways for a situation to play itself out, but all variants/options of that situation would appear in the Torah codes, it is not until the event has occurred that people can be sure which one will necessarily occur.... and maybe some won't occur at all, but they were a potential event.

I don't believe the codes should be used to predict the future, because we cannot know for sure how the actions of the people will affect that future. Evil decrees can be cancelled, but they can still be encoded in the Torah as they were/are a potential threat.

So to me, all of that means the Codes are valid, and you Josh are more rooted in b'derech hateva instead of understanding that as a Jew you are able to transcend the derech hateva [something I try to do all the time, with a lot of success] :) you just have to believe.... the path you choose to follow is the way you will be lead.

Devorah said...

That whole thing about using the Codes for kiruv but nothing else, because the codes are not really kosher, is ridiculous.

No self-respecting rabbi would get up and m'kerav people with something he didn't believe in himself. If a rabbi genuinely thought the Codes were suspect, he wouldn't use them fullstop.

I think people are entitled to their opinions, but shouldn't be slandering other rabbis in the process, and to basically imply that they are conmen who sell the Codes to innocent newcomers, but don't believe in it themselves, is slander and untrue.

So ultimately I find all that to be just a ridiculous assumption. It's outrageous to come to that conclusion.

joshwaxman said...

yes, I agree that it is the more obviously 'frum' position to take the codes as real.

even so, there is good evidence that the codes are nonsense. it is not evidence that the hamon am (or even many big rabbis) are able to readily comprehend. and unfortunately, a lot of frum people believe a lot of nonsense, and think it is the frum thing to do.

it is hard to prove any of this, but I really, truly, do believe that the Vilna Gaon, living today, would not be a proponent of modern Torah codes.

the problem with evidence for Nibiru, or even for many things brought in the mystical Jewish blogosphere, is that there are hundreds of pieces of 'evidence'. and i could debunk any individual one and show how it is the result of a misunderstanding. (for example, the collected writings of Rabbi Yekusiel Fish.) but all people will take from this is the one nitpick, and that I am nitpicking, against the seeming tremendous weight of evidence. but in fact, there is a good debunking of almost **every** piece of 'evidence', because the people coming up with this stuff don't know how to properly evaluate the world.

joshwaxman said...

For one example, see what Rabbi Chaim B. (I can give you his full contact info elsewhere) writes in the name of the Yismach Moshe (Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum), here:


He (Rabbi Chaim B. at least) is in favor of dissembling for the sake of kiruv.

For another frum person who believes this, see LazerA's comments here.

There IS an idea of presenting to young children things on the level they can understand and accept, only to replace it with a more sophisticated understanding later. Certainly many kiruv organizations present such a simplified version of Judaism, glossing over many of the rougher points. (Such that sometimes Baalei Teshuvah will react with shock that a Rishon could say a midrash aggadah is not literal, for example.)

At the very least, this sort of stuff does not need the same sort of rigor that one would subject halacha or hashkafa to. One can rely on things supported by a daas yachid. It sounds good and frum, and gematriot and roshei teivos are established as legitimate. That is not really lying. But it is not endorsement as certain and determined truth. But they forgot that חכם עיניו בראשו, and where this might lead. By taking off the royal signet ring and handing it to the researchers (or handing it to the autistic facilitators), they passed off leadership of klal Yisrael to a bunch of wannabe prophets.

joshwaxman said...

btw, here is Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein, as another frum opponent of the Torah Codes, who considers it using falsehood for kiruv purposes.

Devorah said...

I could mention at least one code that you debunked even though I knew for a fact that it was incredibly accurate.

Maybe it's a question of vision: some people can see things, other people can't. In the same way that some people have dreams in colour, and others dream in black and white.

If you or Gil Student can't see something... it's not a given that it doesn't exist.... many others may see it very clearly and would wonder why you can't.

The more you try to rationalize something, the harder it becomes to see it clearly.

if you experience a personal miracle, and you then rationalize it out to facts and figures, you have missed the whole point. You will probably never experience something you don't believe it, because even if you did, you'd be blind to it. You refuse to acknowledge that which you cannot rationalize.

So how on earth do you believe in G-d in the first place? How do you rationalize G-d ? Most skeptics are usually athiests.... aren't they?

Religion itself is a supernatural thing. Why is it so hard to believe that Torah Codes exist?

joshwaxman said...

mention away!

alas, most often one encounters the rationalist judaism approach as a negative. there is a positive approach and substance there.

10rainbow said...

devorah, r glazerson, is a very highly recommended figure in this area. he knows what he is talking about, and also the responsibility of his works which are answertable to Hashem, as a rabbi (teacher and guide) . the beauty of judaism is there are always arguments, and counter arguments which is NOT allowed in any other faith, as other faiths are based on indoctrination. but it is very irritating to see agruments for the sake of being destructive and horrible and not for the sake of heaven. if a person does not agree with a particular approach, then stay away from it and dont try to be a stumbling block on others who appreciate and can understand the approach. in fact there are rabbis against those going for rosh hashana to uman. and there are the pros. thats fine. but to always criticise every single writing and view, as though one is the vilna gaon himself is really hard to digest.
when i read today's article on the torah codes, i sighed and sighed, knowing the comment that will come from this.

Devorah said...

""mention away!""

The code you found containing your own name, which not only suited you, but also the other eponymous infamous waxman. :)

""alas, most often one encounters the rationalist judaism approach as a negative. there is a positive approach and substance there.""

Perhaps it's just so deeply encoded within it, most of us can't see it.

Israel Rising said...

I waited to see where the thread was going to comment. It's about Emunah. If someone approaches the world from "rationalistic perspective" then there is no Emunah needed. By definition Emunah only comes in where the rational process leaves off. If one doesn't believe in the possibility of that which is beyond his own comprehension he has no Emunah.

Anonymous said...

the Torah codes are not worth debunking. the Gra would appreciate the algorithm aspect of it, while keeping the whole thing in context for what it is..all the codes do is show how everything can be in the Torah...with a non biased approach...no one is predicting reality, they are showing reality, and reality is, people think Nibiru is out there...the codes confirm, what do they confirm? That the concept (albeit if made from people) exists, still qualifies as exists, even if from people. That shouldnt take away from reality. the Torah shows all levels of reality.

If I learn pshat in gemara, wrongly: how did i see a wrong pshat? because the text showed it. Then to go over it again, I find a clearer reality. But there are levels and levels of learning. This term in gemara to learn wrongly/poorly, while thinking it is correct, is called,"hava mina" perhaps the chumash reports hava minas as well? if so, then the Torah lists as possibilities of reality, and the true reality, we will experience, and still, the codes will report it too.

Thus the codes must be taken with context as to the codes themselves, but not with a grain of salt, rather a grain of chachmah binah and daas, to see the pashtus of the codes, that sometimes lead one to gadlus. For every now and then, you get a code that really knocks your socks off, as the same with a pshat in gemara, or any aspect of Torah, along with our hava minas.

And that, i think, the Gra knew as well...any talmud scholar would understand these things, esp. a mathematical algorithm head like the Gra.

Devorah said...

Additional viewing: Here is the link to the original promo with Harold Gans of the 2012 Torah Codes.
Torah Code 2012

joshwaxman said...

"I waited to see where the thread was going to comment. It's about Emunah."

No, no, no!

Are you saying that Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein lacks emunah? That Rabbi Gil Student lacks emunah? For shame!

Emunah is belief in Hashem and in his Torah, in the coming of mashiach, etc. But there are also a bunch of false beliefs. For instance, on is NOT supposed to believe in the existence of other gods. We are not supposed to believe that Shabtai Tzvi, or Jesus, was the mashiach. It is not a free for all in which every false and silly idea is acceptable.

You folks don't seem to get it. This is no longer Judaism. Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach would be horrified that people were taking an apocalyptic event in 2013-2014 dreamed up by a lunatic and reinforced by conspiracy theorists seriously, and not just seriously but as Torah miSinai. (Why? Because of what Dr. Haralick wrote, at the very least.) That people were discarding the position of major rabbis like Rav Ovadia Yosef and Rav Shlomo Amar about a cult-leader, on the say-so of a Bible codes researcher who uses Torah codes to determine reality. He said not to be concerned about Christian use, which was nonsense. He would oppose this sort of use, and its promotion of it as Torah, as well.

Would he necessarily agree with my assessment of Torah codes in general? Perhaps not. He would probably disagree with my assessment of several things. (And I would still disagree with him.) But that is independent of introducing silly beliefs into Judaism.

But all one needs to say is that opponents lack Emunah, and that causes a dismissal of anything they have to say.

Meanwhile, in the previous thread, I made what I thought were a number of good points. To select just two, Rabbi Glazerson gave a teretz justifying an awkward spelling, and I showed how it demonstrated 'wiggle room' was used, invalidating the code. Dr. Haralick made a point about non-predictive power, and I pointed out that that is not how Rabbi Glazerson is using them. I would appreciate responses to these points.

kol tuv,

Anonymous said...

Eli said:-
Thank you for posting this wonderful piece; I recently had a heated debate with one of your bloggers who referred to the Torah codes as bunk. I'm always puzzled as to why people, frum people, invest so much time and energy trying to debunk the codes. A friend of mine, a ger tzedek, commented that people do not want to have their free choice taken away. They want to leave their Yiddishkeit as something which is purely a matter of faith; they want to do the choosing.
Having studied science to degree level, the principle of codes is as much a proof of Torah's authenticity as anything in science; and more so.

Anonymous said...

As I recall there was a Torah code with the words: Korea- atomic holocaust- Barak Obama- Seoul- war-5771. We shall soon see, right?

Anonymous said...

Eli said:-
The last comment totally misses the point; Torah codes are not there for us to predict the future, that's not our business. Our business is studying Torah, a tough job. The codes reveal to us that we are indeed studying a Divine Work.

joshwaxman said...

So long as it is used for such inspirational purposes, I don't have THAT much of a problem with it. But some of these Torah codes from Rabbi Glazerson are actually making predictions and determinations. The one instance that really caught my eye was that Nir Ben Artzi is a genuine prophet, because "BenArtzi" and related words appear in proximity to "chozeh". Or people being **more** worried about some event (such as the Anonymous one above) because someone constructed a Torah code. Indeed, I think I know many frum people who are impressed with the Codes for inspiration, but not for determination. There is a line being crossed here, and I think you are on the correct side of that line.

Though we know that we are studying a Divine Work via other means. (And I would guess that you agree with me about that.) Masorah, emunah, are intuition in the course of its study, historical proofs based on Jewish history, and so on. When I attended the Discovery seminar (twice), the presenter took pains to emphasize that the Torah Codes were not the basis for his own personal faith.

Are you familiar with the counter-arguments to the codes? If one's faith in the Torah and Hashem is purely based on such proofs, then one's faith is vulnerable to debunking along with the codes.

Anonymous said...

Eli said:-
Thanks Josh. My sentiments go back to the original code study in the mid-1980s. I think the line was crossed with the publication of Michael Drosnin's book. It brought the whole topic into dis-repute because of it's sensational, lowest common denominator approach.

Anonymous said...

To Josh
הקנאה ״הגאווה״ והכבוד מוציאים את האדם מן העולם !!! ב׳

Anonymous said...

"בעקבות משיחא חוצפא יסגא (תִרבה), ויוקר יאמיר: הגפן תתן פריה והיין ביוקר, ומלכות תהפך למינות, ואין תוכחת, בית וועד יהיה לזנות, והגליל יחרב, והגבלן (הגולן) יישום (יהיה ריק מאדם), ואנשי הגבול יסובבו מעיר לעיר ולא יחוננו, וחכמות סופרים תסרח, ויראי חטא ימאסו, והאמת תהא נעדרת. נערים פני זקנים ילבינו, זקנים יעמדו מפני קטנים, בן מנוול אב, בת קמה באמה, כלה בחמותה, אויבי איש אנשי ביתו, פני הדור כפני הכלב, הבן אינו מתבייש מאביו. ועל מה יש לנו להשען? על אבינו שבשמים.

joshwaxman said...

why do you say that I have 'gayva'? because i think people are acting silly and point it out?