|Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm)
Number 21 – 30 April 2004
Copyright 2004 Meru Foundation
Edited by Cynthia Tenen
Stan and I continue to meet regularly with our Sharon Colloquium study
group, here in Massachusetts. We are beginning an in-depth look at the
new scholarly Pritzker/Stanford University Press edition of the Zohar (a primary work of Jewish
mysticism), translated into English by Prof. Daniel Matt.
Prof. Matt's translation is both frustrating and illuminating. As a
scholar, he has done a diligent and remarkable job of assembling and
annotating a definitive Aramaic text. As a translator, his
"wordsmith-bias" (Matt is primarily a poet and historian) means that he
does not perceive any geometry or mathematics that may appear in the
original. (See Stan's recently updated essay, Scientists and Wordsmiths, at http://www.meru.org/science.html , for more
on this subject.) A quick survey of Matt's translation, however, shows
that many passages in the Zohar were clearly written in what we call
"geometric metaphor"; we intend to go back to the Aramaic text of these
passages, and illustrate them to illuminate their meaning. This is the
kind of study that Stan and I moved East to do, and we are pleased to
have this opportunity.
Stan's essay on the sounds of the Hebrew letters, below, includes an
example taken from Prof. Matt's translation, relating the letters to
the notes and pauses in music. This passage may point to additional and
deeply meaningful ways to render the Hebrew letter-text of Genesis into
music (as has been done by composers Daniel Gil and Stephen James
Taylor on our music CD, First
Sound(tm): The Music of Genesis.) More information on the
Pritzker/Stanford University Edition of The Zohar is available at http://www.sup.org/zohar/ .
BOOK on THE
BIBLE CODES NOW AVAILABLE at www.meetingtent.com .
I am pleased to announce that we are now offering Who Wrote the Bible Code: A Physicist
Probes the Current Controversy, by Randall Ingermanson, Ph.D.,
on Meru Foundation's secure-server website, http://www.meetingtent.com. Stan
comments: "Prof. Ingermanson is a highly qualified physicist and
statistician, and also, a caring and sincere Christian. He would very
much like to have found that the predictions claimed for the
letter-patterns in Torah, made popular by people such as Michael
Drosnin, were true. But Ingermanson's findings are exactly the
opposite." Dr. Ingermanson concludes -- as we have -- that the
"prophetic Bible Codes" are spurious, and explains why in this readable
book written for the layman. Ingermanson's conclusions, by the way,
leave plenty of room for the sort of woven patterning that Meru
research suggests is present in the Hebrew letter-text -- he did not
examine this possibility.
Ingermanson's conclusions about the "prophetic Bible Codes" are
credible and convincing, and we recommend Who Wrote the Bible Code to anyone
who has wondered about this subject.
Who Wrote the Bible Code: A
Physicist Probes the Current Controversy ©1999 by Randall
Ingermanson, Ph.D. (Waterbrook/Random House, ISBN 1-57856-225-2
(paper)) is available from Meru Foundation at
ESSAY by Stan
Tenen: THE SOUNDS OF HEBREW
[Note from Cynthia Tenen: Stan wrote the essay below as part of a
Jewish e-list discussion on ancient pronunciation of Hebrew. The style
is informal; I have inserted explanations for terms that may not be
familiar to many of our eTORUS readers.]
I have greatly appreciated reading the discussions of the history of
the pronunciation of Hebrew, as we are able to reconstruct it. However,
there is another approach, which is not generally considered.
It seems to me that it makes sense to assume that the ancient rabbis
and sages were fully aware of the difficulty of accurately transmitting
sound, and in particular, the sound and pronunciation of the letters.
And even if these sages were not consciously aware of this potential
problem in the preservation of an accurate rendition of the Torah,
surely, if Torah contains a science of consciousness, then if this was
of importance, it would be provided for -- especially over the
centuries where no mechanical recording equipment was available.
Here's one way that this could be done.
My research demonstrates that the full set of shapes and meanings of
the 27 letters of the rabbinic form of the Meruba Ashuris "Torah
alphabet" is generated by a specially shaped "Ur-tefillin strap" that
is defined (exactly) by pairing the letters at the beginning of
Genesis. [Tefillin are the phylactery boxes worn by observant Jewish
men on their foreheads and arms during morning prayers; they are
attached by leather straps.]
This same "First Hand" (my name for it) also appears to take the form
of all of the nine voices mentioned in the 150th psalm, and in many
other places. (The 150th psalm, in English, is available at
http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/jps/psa150.htm -- the Hebrew is available at http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/tan/psa150.htm ).
How so? The "First Hand" from Genesis looks a bit like a shofar [ram's
horn]. So, blowing into the tip of the form (the "thumb" of the model)
makes use of the form as a shofar. Likewise, blowing across the top of
the column is like a flute. Likewise, clapping the "earth-planes"
together is like cymbals and/or drum-heads. And of course, a harp is
often referred to as "a hand", and strung accordingly between the
"thumb" and the "fingertips".
My point is that the same form that generates the shapes and the
meanings of the names of the letters (when understood as gestures with
natural meaning) also generates a series of musical instruments and/or
voices. Their tonality and their capability for producing various
tones, chords, and combinations of tones can be deduced and/or
demonstrated and tested.
In other words, "First Hand" as defined by the letter-sequences at the
beginning of Genesis appears to generate not only the shape and meaning
of each letter, but also to tie each letter to a particular instrument,
and a particular tone or set of tones.
If this is a valid approach (the "if" is important, because this is not
proven, and needs considerably more work just to be presented
properly), then we should be able to find it referred to in traditional
sources, and we should be able to reconstruct it, confirm it, and thus
regain the true original intended sounding for each letter.
Here's how Prof. Dan Matt's translation of Zohar puts it.
(From the Stanford/Pritzker edition of the Zohar translated by Daniel C. Matt,
©2004 Zohar Editions Project, Inc., published by Stanford
University Press., Vol. 1, p. 114-115. Formatting adapted for plain
text; the quote with its original formatting, designed to clearly
distinguish between original and commentary, can be found at
"'The enlightened will shine like the zohar (radiance) of the
sky' (Daniel 12:3)(53)--like musical intonations,(54) whose melody is
followed by the letters and vowels, undulating after them like troops
behind their king. The letters are body; the vowels, spirit.(55) All of
them range in motion after the intonations and halt with them. When the
melody of the intonation moves, letters and vowels follow; when it
stops, they do not move but stand in place.
"'The enlightened will shine'--letters and vowels. 'Like the
zohar (radiance)'--melody of the notes. 'Of the sky'--extension of the
melody, like those extending, prolonging the melody.(56) 'And those who
lead many to righteousness'--pausal notes, halting their movement, as a
result of which the word is heard.(57) 'Will shine'--letters and vowels
shining as one on their journey into a mystery of concealment, a
journey on concealed paths. From this all expands.(58)"
Of course, Prof. Matt is a scholar who adheres to the theory (at least,
I understand him to be saying this) that Torah (and that would include
everything that follows from Torah) is the result of the writing and
editing of inspired sages in Babylonia, and that the Zohar is a
fantastical and probably confabulated discussion of a mystical quest by
a group of mystics. In other words, his understanding conforms to the
school of higher criticism and the documentary hypothesis, which
assumes a priori that the Torah is a story-book like other ancient
texts. [See Stan's earlier essays, Alternatives
to Biblical Scholarship and When
is the Textual Approach Not Appropriate, at http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/textnotstories.html and http://www.meru.org/Newsletter/documentary.html respectively, for more on this subject.]
I'm proposing that regardless of Prof. Matt's personal beliefs, his
English translation is indeed masterful and comprehensive when
considered as scholarship. In other words, instead of writing off the
content of the Zohar as mystical speculation based on the idea that it
is, in effect, a "pious forgery", serious people might be more inclined
to search for the deep meaning behind discussions that are essentially
inscrutable if they are interpreted only as mythology, magic, fantasy,
or mystical quest.
This approach -- the search for what I call a "science of
consciousness" in ancient traditions -- is far more productive. In this
case, we're offered the opportunity to regain precise knowledge of the
proper pronunciation or sounding of the letters (and vowel sounds) of
the Hebrew alphabet and language.
I hope you enjoy this Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter.
We welcome your comments and suggestions, and would like the
to speak with you personally.
If you have comments or questions, please send an email to Cynthia
at email@example.com with your phone
and a good time to call -- or, please call us at 781-784-8902 (Boston
I would like to brainstorm with you.
Thank you for your interest in the work of the Meru Foundation.
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