Essays by Stan Tenen

Comments on Prof. A.Y. Hasofer's article, Torah Codes: Reality or Illusion
©1998 Stan Tenen

The following was written by Stan Tenen to the electronic mail correspondent who first alerted us to Prof. Hasofer's article. It is not intended as a formal review; rather, it covers a few topics of interest to both Mr. Tenen and his email correspondent.

The paper by Prof. Hasofer is correct. I agree almost completely with his analysis, and I am grateful to him for having produced this paper.

I agree with him both technically, and from a Jewish halachic perspective.

However, there is one additional comment I'd like to make. While the seemingly "predictive" Rabbi name-date correlations are undoubtedly spurious, the basic equal interval letter-skip patterns are undoubtedly real. In other words, it's the prophetic meaning, and the means used to "tease out" that prophetic meaning, that is flawed – and this work is invalid, as Prof. Hasofer makes clear.

But there really are equal-interval letter skips throughout Torah, and they, in my opinion (based on my work) have real meaning – but not narrative, story, or word-level meaning. The letter-skip patterns are artifacts of the Torah text having been woven of its letters, or written on a lattice woven of some of the letters.

It was common in the ancient world to send "coded messages" by writing across the windings of a strap wound on a pole, filling in the unused spaces with whatever one pleased, and removing the pole. The pole is required to decipher the message. It naturally displays in straight lines letters that skip by the circumference of the pole. Thus, a distant general could read the king's message by winding the messenger's strap on a pole of the same diameter as it was composed on.

Further, if the pole were sculpted to form, say, a royal scepter, then it would even be more difficult to decipher the letters written across windings, unless one had an exact duplicate of the original scepter.

Further, the scepter itself could be implied if the strap were woven into a basket or a turban or even just of ordinary cloth.

The fact is, that it doesn't take heavy-duty statistics or "rocket science" to detect black and white skip patterns in an unraveled "Navajo rug" consisting of black and white stripes.

I believe that my work can help to demonstrate that the Torah, at least through Genesis and the giving of Torah in Exodus, is woven of its letters. Traditional teachings include the idea that the Torah is somehow coded through the giving of Torah in Exodus. This explains why the code-believers concentrate their efforts on Genesis. They already expect it to have odd coding-like qualities.

My work indicates that the Torah's self-statement (Exodus) that the Tabernacle requires craftspersons who can embroider, brocade, and weave, should be taken seriously. Also, there is a statement in Proverbs to the effect that the Torah is like a golden apple filigreed of silver words. (Broad paraphrase.) And further, there is a teaching that the "secret of the Torah" is in the first letter, the first word, the first verse, etc., etc. – and the first word is B'reshit. Reshet denotes a woven network.

When you take this "woven Torah" idea seriously, and pair off the letters, meaningful geometric patterns emerge. These patterns can be readily identified, feature by feature, with mysterious objects and words in Kabbalistic texts. Traditional teachings can be shown to be rooted in the sequence of letters at the beginning of Genesis. For example, it's taught that there are 613 total commandments. They come as 248 positive, and 365 negative. When the letters are paired, the first verse of Genesis is forced to take a form that can be identified with Adam Kadmon – the archetypal human. This form is bound in time by 365 "days", and free in space in 248 dimensions. It's a unique solution, it's startling, and there's no other explanation for why there are 613 mitzvot (commandments).

There are literally dozens of other examples, any one or two of which of course could be far-fetched coincidences. But the body of models taken together forms a coherent system, which "unravels" literally dozens of Kabbalistic and other traditional texts, whose meaning is now unclear. By the way, no one should believe this just because I'm saying it. As Prof. Hasofer and the other critics have pointed out, it's very very easy to find "meaningless patterns", if you look long and hard enough. But that's not what's going on here. These patterns are all closely related, evolve from each other, fit traditional descriptions, and form a coherent system that carries real (non-literal) meaning.

I believe it is vitally important to separate "the baby from the bathwater." The prophetic Rabbi-name-date material is the "bathwater", and it is nonsense. But the ELS patterns are the "baby." They're real, and they shouldn't be disposed of just because true believers and amateurs have "muddied the bathwater" with prophetic silliness.

While the letter-patterns themselves definitely do not provide any sort of prophetic message, the geometries determined by the letter-correlations I've been working with do concern prophecy, because they include an alphabet that can be used to "read and write" meditational exercises, based on letter sequences. If this is true, then the Torah does not contain prophecy; rather, it includes meditational exercises that lead to psychological states that might empower prophetic experiences. I want to be clear: this is not proven, but it's well-founded speculation. I believe this aspect of the ELS patterns requires serious – non-statistical – investigation. And that's what the Meru work is about.

Stan Tenen
July 1998, Sharon, Mass.

Back to Bible Codes Index


Contents of this page written by Isaac Zlochower are ©1997 Isaac Zlochower.
Contents of this page written by Stan Tenen are ©1997 Stan Tenen, and licensed to Meru Foundation, 524 San Anselmo Ave. #214, San Anselmo, CA 94960.
Email inquiries to: