Introduction To Torah Patterns by moti


									                        Introduction To Torah Patterns
The Divine Mathematician in His Works and His Words

The Divine Designer of the pattern of Nature (that which “is”) is revealed through His works:
- How great are Your works, o Lord, how deep are Your thoughts‟ (Tehillim 92, 6).

Anyone contemplating the vastness, grandeur and harmony of the multiple phenomena of the
cosmos, recognises the One who created and constantly sustains the Universe: „How great
are Your works.‟ The scientists who discover the deeply hidden mathematical formulae and
associations in astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology and other sciences, thereby
demonstrate the power of the Divine Thinker and Mathematician in the cosmos: How deep
are Your thoughts and mathematical links. („Thought‟ = „mahshava, root hashav to reckon, to
bind together.)

The Divine Designer of the pattern of Morality (that which “ought to be”) is revealed through
His words:- „The Teaching of the Lord (the Five Books of Moshe) is perfect, it inspires the
soul‟ (Tehillim 19, 8).

Anyone studying its religious, philosophical, ethical, psychological, social, legal, historical
and scientific aspects is inspired by its truth and harmony, and recognises its Divine Author.
The scholars who have delved deeply into the text of the Torah have found hidden
harmonious structures and numerical associations and patterns which demonstrate the Divine
Thinker and Mathematician behind the Torah: „Uncover my eyes, so that I may see hidden
marvels out of Your Torah‟ (Tehillim 119, 18).

“The early Torah scholars were called „scribes‟ or „calculators‟ because they counted the
letters of the Torah” (Talmud Bavli, Kidushin 30 a, based on Chronicles 1, 2, 55 and other
verses). This was an aid to the preservation of an exact text for the scribes to copy, but may
also indicate research into numerical patterns.

This approach to the text is included under the heading remez- „Hints‟ in the traditional four
levels of interpretation, namely: pardes=(1) Pshat = straightforward meaning; (2) Remez =
Hints; (3) Drash = derived and allegorical meaning: (4) Sod = mystical meaning, described
also as “the path of truth” (Ramban). “Astronomical calculations and numerical
interpretations are appetisers to wisdom” (Ethics of the Fathers III, 18). Perhaps this refers to
the abovementioned parallel between the mathematical investigations of the cosmos, which is
most prominent in astronomy, and the numerical study of the Torah. They do not deal with
the content of wisdom, but with its harmonious structure, thereby making the content of
scientific and Torah wisdom pleasing and convincing to the mind.

II.The Development of Numerical Study of the Torah.

According to the straightforward meaning of the Bible — Pshat — number and letter patterns
have obvious significance.

Seven, multiples of seven, and seven squared occur: in repetition of key words and phrases;
as sign of complete retribution; in connection with oaths- it has the same Hebrew root -
hishave‟a, in sanctified time periods: Creation, Sabbath, Festivals, Sabbatical and Jubilee
Years, nuptial rejoicing, period of mourning, purification process; sacred vessels such as the
Candelabrum. It appears to be the symbol of Divine harmony; the word sheva may be
connected with save‟a = satisfaction, fulfillment, completeness. It may have a parallel in
Nature in the seven colors of the spectrum and the seven notes in the octave.

Ten occurs in various contexts: the number of plagues, Divine words of the Decalogue,
minimum number of righteous people to save the city, number of units for measurement of
Sanctuary, separation of tenth in tithing. The word „eser may be connected with „osher =
wealth, abundance, unity in multiplicity. Letters have stylistic significance in the acrostics of
the Aleph-Beth in some books of the Bible; in the transposition of letters - in Jeremiah 51,l;
ibid 25,26.

Gematria (Gk. geometria) is mentioned amongst the 32 Hermeneutical Methods of
Interpretation of the Torah, of Rabbi Eliezer son of Rabbi Yosi Hagelili, as Method No 29.
(Printed at the back of Tractate Berachoth, p. 96.) This refers to numerical values of the
Aleph-Beth, as well as, in a wider sense, transposition of letters, and use of initials for words,
generally referred to as Notarikon (ibid No.30).

Talmudic literature contains many examples of Gematria: - E.g. Yihyeh, gematria 30,
indicating that Nazarite vow normally lasts 30 days. — (Nazir 5a, Bamidbar 6,5).

39 categories of forbidden work on Sabbath: eleh hadevarim = 36+3 (Shabbath 70 a,
Shemoth 35,1).

The minimum amount of dough from which hallah must be separated is the volume of 43-1/5
eggs. The gematria of hallah is 43. (Bamidbar Rabba, 18.)

The number of retainers mustered by Abraham is given as 318 (Bereshith 14, 14). This is the
gematria of Eliezer. (Nedarim 32a.).

Most authorities regard these derashot as asmachta, as a peg, a mnemonic, and not as an
original Halachic source (see commentary of Rambam on Nazir, 1,1, and Rosh in Shita
Mekubezeth, Nazir 5a); however cf. Midrash Tanaim, Introduction, and midda 29, for
divergent opinion.

Nachmanides in his Sefer Hage‟ula writes:- “In my reliance upon Gematria, a person might
claim that it is nonsense, because it is possible to interpret verses in an evil and strange
manner by these calculations. We declare that a person may not use Gematria in any manner
that comes to his mind, but we have a tradition from our Talmudic Sages that certain
Gematrioth were handed down to Moshe at Sinai as a mnemonic for that which was
transmitted verbally, in Aggada and in Halacha. It is like the Gezera Shava - analogy based
on same key-word - upon which many basic Torah laws depend, which can also be misused

to deduce matters that are evil and contradict the Torah, but the Sages declared: „A person
may not compose a Gezera Shava himself‟.”

Early Kabbalistic literature contains mystical and symbolic numerical structures connected
with the letters of the Aleph Beth and with the 3 plus 7 = 10 Sephiroth. In Sefer Yetzira,
Sefer Habahir, and the Zohar many aspects of the structure of Torah, the structure of Nature,
the structure of man, are described according to these concepts.

The extent to which some of the great scholars “counted” the letters of the Torah is illustrated
by Saadya Gaon‟s Piyyut on the Aleph Beth, wherein each stanza of the acrostic has words
the numerical value of which is equivalent to the number of times that letter appears in the

The following Medieval works contain many “letter” interpretations and Gematrioth:
Midrash Haserot Vi-yeterot.
Midrash Aggada of R. Moshe Ha-darshan.
The works of R. Eliezer of Worms, (the “Rokeach”).
R. Yaakov and Abraham Abulafia.
R. Yaakov ben Asher, (the “Baal Haturim”).
R. Nathan Nota Shapira, (the “Megale Amukoth”).
R. Eliyahu, the Gaon of Vilna.
Maharal of Prague, in his kabbalistic-philosophic exposition of Torah concepts, has a wide
range of symbolic numerical explanations, e.g.:-
6 = the 3 dimensional concrete world of Nature
  = 6 directions f the phenomena.
7 = the centre point, which is abstract, but co-ordinates the 6.
  = the mind, the noumenon, the image of all the six directions as one unit.
  = the mind which conceives and coordinates the Time-Space of the Cosmos and brings
harmony to the variety of phenomena.
8 = The Supernatural dimension, the Sechel ha-niv‟dal represented by miracles, and the
miraculous Revelation of Torah.

                                  III. The Modern Period
It is in more recent times, however, that the “numerical” interpretation of the Torah text has
gathered a new momentum, from a variety of angles:-

1) With the development of the scientific discovery of mathematical formulae in the structure
of energy and matter in all spheres, there has emerged an upsurge in the study of
„Harmonics‟. Common mathematical structures have been uncovered in astronomy, physics,
chemistry, biology, music and other areas. cf. Haase, R. Grundlagen der Harmonikalen
Symbolik Kayser, H. Lehrhuch der Harmonik Borchard R. Our harmonious Cosmos.

2) Number Symbolism as a key to understanding the repetition of words, phrases and
passages in the text of the Bible has been recognized even by Biblical scholars far removed
from the traditional approach, such as M. Buber and U. Cassutto. B. Jacob went much further
in discovering a common, symbolic number-structure also in the measurements of the

Sanctuary, Temple, holy vessels, numbers of offerings, geneologies, chronology, the
festivals. See his works “Der Pentateuch”, 1905, 1908. “Die Abzaehlungen,” 1909.

3) It was O. Goldberg who uncovered a more comprehensive number symbolism of 7 and 26.
Some of this is referred to in the article by Rabbi Carmell in this issue.

4) The discovery of the key 7 x 10 x 26 = 1820 (70 x 26), as a hidden formula, was described
by Ray P.Z. Hurvitz as illustrated in Ray Carmell‟s article. It illustrates the principle “The
Torah consists of the Divine Names”. See Appendix 2.

5) Rabbi M.B. Weissmandel in „Torat Hemed‟ developed the application of “spacing” which
is already used in the works of R. Bachya and the Gaon of Vilna.
The following (as well as many other of the interpretations mentioned here) have been
reproduced in a Hebrew journal Nitzotzoth. Through the spacing of 7 x 7 letters there appear
the words „Torah‟ and „Hashem‟ at the beginning and end of the Five Books of Moshe. See
Appendix 1.

6) T. Weksler in his “Hidden Traditions” and other articles, demonstrates the use of 613 as a
hidden symbol (already mentioned extensively by the Gaon of Vilna) as well as squared
The Gematria of the Patriarchs, Matriarchs and the 12 tribes = 70 x 70 = 4900. See
Illustration 2.

7) Rabbi S.D. Sassoon found that in the separate paragraphs of the Torah, the number of
words in the passage was often reflected in the numerical value of the key word in the
passage, or a multiple thereof. E.g. Exodus 13, 1-16 which deals with the sanctification of the
firstborn (bechor) and has, (apart from the introductory sentence) 228 words, the Gematria of

8) The method of “spacing” has been developed by Dr. E. Ripps, Dr. M. Katz and Ray Yaniv
and others. These results are now being subjected to rigorous mathematical testing to
evaluate their true significance.

                       IV. Qualifications of Numerical Interpretation
The remez (allusive) approach to the Sacred Text has to be understood as an aid to pshat, but
should not be the major approach to the understanding of the Torah. It deals with form rather
than content. It can nevertheless have educational value in appreciation of the Divine
Harmony inherent in the Torah. It has proven itself a potent factor in transforming sceptics
into believers in the Divinity of Torah.

It is important to differentiate between numerical interpretations which are mere mnemonics
applied arbitrarily to associated ideas in Torah, and on the other hand, systematic number-
symbolism demonstrating definite patterns and ideas, which demonstrate a Divine Harmony.
It is the latter which calls for strong development in the Computer Age.

The question has been raised:- If this mode of research were to produce conclusive proof of
the supernatural origin of the Torah, would it not remove free-choice from man, and would
he not be forced to accept Torah as Absolute Truth?

But I do not think this is something we need worry about. Even when the Children of Israel
had witnessed G-d speaking and had experienced many miracles, they still retained an evil
inclination, they rebelled and sinned with the Golden Calf. There is other conclusive
evidence for the Divinity of the Torah, but this does not remove the inclination to sin
amongst those who perceive this evidence.

Perhaps since we are removed so far in time from the experience of Revelation and prophecy,
God has counter-balanced the weakening of the impact of Revelation by granting us the
evidence of fulfilled predictions, confirmations by archeology, scientific truths and
mathematical patterns to enable us to discover the truth of Torah in our time.


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