Re: Equal Interval Reading

Moshe Zeldman (mzeldman@aish.edu)
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 17:04:41 +0000

A common issue that comes up with regard to encoded patterns
("Equal Interval Reading") found in the Torah is the accuracy of the
Torah text. The Jewish communities around the world today have
basically accepted as authoritative one text (Textus Receptus) of the
Five Books of Moses. Among the variant readings (ie. Ashkenai,
Sephardi, Teimani) there are a total of nine letters in dispute. It
has been sufficiently demonstrated int he minds of statisticians that
9 letters out of a text that is 304,805 letters is not significant
enough to alter the overall statistical strength of the codes
phenomenon.

At the same time, we do know that there are older versions of the
Torah text that are more significantly at variance with our text.
1) The Leningrad codex. This differs from "our" text by 130 letters,
and this does have a more noticeable effect on the coding structure.
How do we explain it? Somehow, we ended up with "the right" text as
our standard and not the Leningrad text, or any of the other similar
variants. I would call this the hand of Divine guidance. Even if you
find the theory of Divine Guidance to be too "unscientific", it does
not in any way take away from the power of what was found and
eventually published in Statistical Science. The bottom line is "the
codes work!"

2) The Gemara in Kiddushin that states where the middle letter of the
Torah *should* be, but wasn't even in their days. The Torah goes on
to state that "we are no longer experts in the tradition of spelling
words 'maleh' (plene) or 'chaser' (defective)". Since the calculation
the Talmud gives puts our Torah scrolls as being "off" be about 5000
letters, this should pose a more serious challenge to the codes
phenomenon, *if* the idea of divine guidance is ignored. A similar
question can be asked from the Zohar (Zohar Chadash 74D) which says
that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah.

I am aware of three approaches to these questions:
a) Rav Avraham Azulai (Chesed L'Avraham) says that he found an old
manuscript that the letters must be reduced to their component parts
(an Aleph is really aleph, lamed, peh),..
b) Piskei Eliyahu suggestes that the Gemara is referring not to all
the letters in the Torah, but to the unusual ones (large, small,..)
and that the vav of "gichon" is the middle such example
c) A contemporary Rav says the Zohar is really talking about the
component parts of the letters. For example, an aleph is really a vav
and 2 yuds, a heh is really a reish and a yud,.. If you know how to
break down each letter to it's component parts, you'll get 600,000
letters. The vav of Gichon is the middle letter of these 600,000
components.

Moshe Zeldman
mzeldman@aish.edu
Aish HaTorah