Prof. Dr. Eli Lasch
In order to understand the message of the Torah, one must be ready to look at the text in a new light, free of historical prejudices. My Meeting with the Divine did not change me into a fundamentalist and not even into an orthodox Jew. I have seen only too well where those tracks have led us to. I am a modern Jew or rather Israeli and have defined myself before my light experience as a secular Jew. My experience did however make it clear to me that what we really need is a totally new approach to the Bible, an approach which will make it relevant for the 21st century – and not only for Jews. If I want to define myself now, I can say that I am close to what is called in the United States “evolutionary creationism” or “intelligent design”[i] .
If we look at the status of religion in the Western world, we are confronted with a paradox: While in the United States the belief in God is over 90% and in Western Europe between 60 and 70%, the actual role of religion is very low. In most of these countries, polls show that less than 40% of the people are of the opinion that the religious authorities in their countries give adequate answers to the moral and spiritual needs of the individual. And this is true for Christians and Jews alike. This is mirrored by the attendance of churches and synagogues, where only 37% of the populations attend these institutions once a week.[ii][iii]
To summarize the results of these polls: The Judeo-Christian religions do not seem to fulfill the needs of the population and are becoming more and more irrelevant for the modern, post-industrial world. This is shown by the fact that even on Sunday or Shabbat the churches and synagogues are usually half empty. Consumerism has taken the place of religion.
This development influences also more and more the attitude to the scriptures and their origin. Less than two-hundred years ago, most people were convinced that the origin of the Bible was divine and that Moses received the Torah directly from God.
The view that the Torah may not be of divine origin was first perpetrated by a protestant professor of theology named Wellhausen, 150 years ago. He claimed that the Torah was a compilation of 4 oral sources, called JEDP[iv]. This thesis is still followed by most of the modern bible scholars, though it was proved wrong by Y. Radday from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. Using a computer, Radday proved indisputably, that at least the book of Genesis was written by one source. [v]
The discussion, which is nowadays rampant among modern Bible scholars, is: whether the Bible (or the Torah) was written by Ezra or during the reign of the “legendary“ King David, as recently claimed by G.A. Rendsburg[vi]. Both views, as well as the one promulgated by Wellhausen, have one thing in common: All of them negate a divine authorship and relegate the Torah to the human past making it thus irrelevant for our time.
Since then, archaeological research has proven both wrong. That the Torah was well-known during the time of the Salomonic temple and probably even recorded in writing is shown by the discoveries of Gabriel Barkay.[vii] Waili, in a grave from the 7th century BCE in Katef Hinnom near Jerusalem he discovered two silver scrolls. The larger of the two scrolls was only about three inches long when it was unrolled. The smaller one was just over two inches long. Barkay said the thin fragile silver of each scroll was etched with 19 lines of a tiny, Hebrew script. It was years before researchers realized that the inscription was an almost exact representation of the priestly blessing found in Numbers. Careful study revealed that the Hebrew characters used were distinctive of the 7th century B.C. E. This was the time of the prophet Isaiah and the king Josiah. In recent years advances in computer technology have brought to light several more verses. And so the discussion goes on.
However, there also exists another approach, the one used in this book: that the Bible is of divine origin and has to be taken literally, but has been misunderstood and wrongly interpreted. It is only this way and not by the theory of multiple sources that the apparent contradictions it contains can be explained. This has always been the starting point of the kabbalah which claims that the so-called contradictions and mistakes we find throughout the Torah are meant to open for us new ways of awareness. This way, “sparks” arise skipping the traditional way of thinking and showing every generation the way into the future.
Contrary to the view of most modern bible scholars, the Torah is neither a literary nor a predominantly theological document. Neither is it a historical textbook. As the name suggests and as my revelation clearly showed, the Torah is a guide-book into a possible future, a book of knowledge, where the verb “to believe” in the accepted meaning hardly ever occurs. The term “to know” on the other hand appears 990 (!) times – contradicting thus most of the existing belief systems. What we do find in the Torah is a profound knowledge, the kind which the people who were supposed to have written or edited it in the 8-9th (or 5th) Century BCE could not have had at their disposal.
What ever may be the origin of the Bible, one fact can’t be denied: There isn’t and there wasn’t any book in the Western world that has been influencing so deeply the life of Man as the Hebrew Bible did. Even the New Testament and the Koran are based upon the Bible.
In our science-oriented society, there is only one way to make it relevant again: to furnish scientific proof that the Bible knows what it is talking about. This can be done only by following the way indicated in the end of the last chapter: back to the original Hebrew meaning of the Bible and using scientific means to explore what the Bible really said.
One of the most obvious contradictions between the Torah and modern science concerns the biblical account of the creation of the world. This is exactly what will be discussed in details in chapter II.2, Breshit.
Here is the point to ask: the Torah – mythology or science? What did we forget? In the seventies of the last century, there appeared in the West a new fashion: to compare Western physics with Eastern mysticism. We will see later that one can also compare modern physics with Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah, and even the Torah. The main difference between modern physics and Eastern mysticism on the one hand and the kabbalah and the Bible on the other hand is the existence of a conscious God who was present at the creation and guided it. We will see later on that one can even speak about the creation of the world as a computer program with God in the role of the programmer. This is another proof for the existence of God. This takes us directly to the next chapter. We will show later that on many accounts the Jewish mysticism and modern science agree with each other. But this deals with only one view of our universe. Could there be others? In the Talmud we find the following remark: “The road has jumped for him”: Somebody has covered a distance at a miraculous speed[viii]. Tibetan mysticism claims the same: Using a special Tibetan way of walking people had succeeded in covering hundreds of kilometers in one night. Is that only superstition? Who knows? But Shortly after I met the Divine, I had to drive from Gaza to Tel Aviv, a distance for which one usually needs 2 ½ to 3 hours. My appointment was at 4 pm. And I couldn’t leave Gaza before 3.30 pm. And lo, a wonder happened! I reached the place exactly at 4 pm. I have heard since then several similar stories. It’s interesting that in all these cases the quantity of gas used corresponded to the distance passed in half an hour.
A short time ago, I was told by a scientist that these kind of experiences are not uncommon after having encountered a paranormal event.
A paranormal event is paranormal, because it doesn’t fit into our experience and can’t be explained by it. This is also the reason such experiences are often considered as charlatanism.
The Bible, however, goes one step further in this line of argument: The recently re-discovered bible code, the verity of which was recognized even by the ultra-conservative journal “Statistical Sciences”.[ix] I say re-discovered, since both, the Rambam (Maimonides) and the Gaon of Vilna” (18th century) knew about it[x] . The latter even used it to predict the Holocaust in all its details and there are many more confirmed statements. If the Bible had been written by Ezra or another author from the 8th century, he must have been a prophet. To give only one example of this code: As we can see in figure no. 1: Four of the five books of the Torah start with the word “Torah” in a codified form.[xi] The Hebrew word “Torah” has four letters: Tav, Vav, Resh, He. Looking at that figure we perceive that the first word of the Torah, Breshit, ends with the letter Tav. When we now skip 49 letters, we reach the letter Vav, 49 letters later, we find the letter Resh and 49 letters further, we find the letter He. Putting these four letters together, we get the Hebrew word TORAH. Coincidence? Why do we find the same phenomenon also at the beginning of the second book of the Torah. Shemot (Exodus)? A similar phenomenon we find also at the fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar (Numbers). The only difference is that here the word Torah is written backwards. Beginning with a He and ending with a Tav. The same order exists in the last book of the Torah, Devarim (Deuteronomy). In the third book, Vajikra (Leviticus), which is considered by many as the central pillar of the Pentateuch we find the word JHVH. The only difference is that one has to skip only seven letters.
Similar codifications we find scattered throughout the whole text of the Bible.
Bible scholars have long been aware of the precision of the transmission of the Bible which has been almost perfect over two millennia, though Jewish communities exist in different corners of the world. Wherever you go, the Torah scrolls are identical. Scribes have undergone an exacting course of training and preparation, all under the motto, or even warning: “Should you per chance omit or add one single letter from the Torah, you risk destroying the entire universe.” This fits in well with the often quoted passage from the New Testament: “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear not a smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any mean disappear from the Law of Moses, until everything is accomplished.”[i]
Now we realize that this warning is more than a poetic metaphor. Now we can understand it. The change of one letter would destroy the code – and at the same time the world. We will see later that this warning may have an even deeper meaning. When I once showed the code to a well-known computer specialist, his reaction was as follows: “What I don’t understand is how it was possible to develop a code or computer program underlying all the stories and commands which appear in the Bible. All our knowledge wouldn’t have been enough to create such a document.” It is rather improbable to expect such knowledge in the people who were living in the 8th century B.C.E. and are supposed to have done nothing but compiling pre-existing oral traditions.
In the introduction to his commentaries on the Torah, Nachmanides describes the way the original manuscript of the Torah was written. According to an old tradition, God showed to Moshe the text of the Torah written with white fire on black. Doesn’t this remind one of a computer screen?
The letters are supposed to be written in the so-called scripta continua, a continuous sequence of letters without any breaks or spaces – one long word from Beth in the beginning to Lamed at the end. While Moshe wrote down what he saw, he heard the voice of God which dictated the text to him. This way he knew how to separate words and sentences.
This didn’t happen at Mount Sinai itself, as most people assume, but chapter by chapter, and each one was read aloud in front of the community. This explains on the one hand the formula that appears at the beginning of each chapter in books 2, 3 and 4: “And God spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to the children of Israel …” and on the other hand, the change in the book Deuteronomy where the Bible says: “Those are the words which Moshe spoke to the people of Israel.” In chapter no. 2, it’s written: “And God spoke to me” and in chapter 4: “And now Israel, listen to the laws I will teach you!” Why the change? The answer is simple. In Deuteronomy Moses repeats everything he had said in the three preceding books. That was necessary, because meanwhile all those who had been present at Mount Sinai were dead. Therefore, Moses had to repeat everything for the new generation. The question which remains open: Where did this dictation take place? The answer is: in the tent. Could it be that the two tablets were what we would call nowadays software where the whole text of the Torah was recorded? The arc of the covenant would be in this case the hardware of the computer. Later on, this information was probably written down and after the destruction of the Salomonic Temple transcribed by Ezra (the scribe) into the alphabet used up to the present day.
In his book “The truth behind the Bible Code”, Satinover reports on a set of sixty-four marble and granite tablets with the entire book of Ezekiel, carved in raised letters, laid out in a square grid and also written in scripta continua that was discovered in Iraq during Israel’s War for Independence. The curator of the tablets is said to have told an investigator that the arrangements of the letters shows that the stones contained hidden messages.[ii] In 1985, archaeologists found a 22 line-long inscription near the city of Sidon, written in scripta continua dating from the biblical era. 5/6 of the text can be readily separated into words with singular or unambiguous meanings.[iii]
More and more scientists have come to the conclusion that the universe did not evolve accidentally, that there has to exist a blueprint underlying it. A program in space and time – a timeline. A timeline, however, implies the existence of a programmer.
According to another ancient tradition, God was holding the Torah in his hand while creating the world. To quote Rabbi Hoshaia (3rd century C.E.): “God looked at the Torah while creating the world similar to an architect building a palace.” The Torah – a blueprint of the Universe? Similar ideas were held by others before him.
God – a programmer? The Torah – a blueprint? A daring theory.
[ii] Ingleheart, R. und Norris, P., God, Guns and Gays; in: Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics worldwide, Cambridge University Press, 2005, Chapt. 4
[iv] J = Jahwist; E = Elohist; D = Deuteronomist; P = Priest
[v] Radday, Yehuda T.; Shore, Haim; Freedman, David Noel: Genesis. An autorship study in computer-assisted statistical linguistics. (Analecta biblica 103). Rome: Biblical Inst. Pr. 1985
[vi] “Reading David in Genesis: How We Know the Torah Was Written in the Tenth Century B.C.E.,” In: Bible Review 17:1 (February 2001), pp. 20-33, 46
[vii] siehe: „Silver Scrolls“, in: www.crystalinks.com/scrollsilver.html
[viii] Sanhedrin 91, 1
[ix] Witztum, D.,E.Rips and Y.Rosenberg, Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis, Statistical Science, 9,3, S. 429-438 1994
[x] for further details see: Satinover J,, The Truth behind the Bible Code, Macmillan Publishers, London 1997
[xi] Janiv, S., Secrets of the Torah, Pessach Melamed, Jerusalem, 1988 (Hebrew)
[i] Matthew 5, 18
[ii] Satinover, op. cit., p. 54