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Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter
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 http://www.meetingtent.com .

[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 opportunity to speak with you personally.

If you have comments or questions, please send an email to Cynthia Tenen at meru@meru.org with your phone number and a good time to call -- or, please call us at 781-784-8902 (Boston area). I would like to brainstorm with you.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the Meru Foundation.

The Meru Foundation eTORUS(tm) Newsletter is copyright 2004 Meru Foundation. All rights reserved.
Past issues of eTORUS(tm) are archived online on the Meru Foundation website at

You may duplicate and pass along this newsletter, in its entirety, as long as you include this copyright notice and the contact information below. Please send comments and questions to <meru@meru.org>.

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