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What's in a Name
by Dr. Arnie Gotfryd

The Tzemach Tzedek related: The Baal Shem Tov was very fond of light, and said, "Or, light, is the numerical equivalent of raz, secret. Whoever knows the 'secret' contained in every thing can bring illumination." -  The Rebbe, Hayom Yom, 6 Elul.

An industrial engineer at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has constructed a surprising new "bridge" between Torah and science, a bridge that is firm enough to withstand the strict standards of scientific scrutiny.
On a hunch, Prof. Haim Shore started exploring the mathematical relationship between modern measures of natural phenomena, and the gematria or numerical value of their Biblical Hebrew names. For example, what could the Hebrew word for pregnancy have to do with the period of gestation? It turns out that the word, heraiyon, with a numerical value of 271, maps exactly into the length of the average human pregnancy, which is 271 days.
In his highly acclaimed and controversial book, Coincidences in the Bible and in Biblical Hebrew, Shore gives dozens of examples including many stunning correlations that defy any natural explanation. For instance, Shore analyzes the five colors often mentioned in Tanakh, plotting the numerical value of their names against their wave frequencies. Even though light waves are a fairly new idea and were only first measured in the 19th Century, the statistical correlation between the Biblical name and the actual wavelength is astoundingly precise.
Correlations like these are not just probabilistic curiosities - they indicate that the two quantities are actually measuring the same thing, albeit in different ways. Shore exemplifies this with the correlation of two temperature scales: Whether you measure in Celsius or Fahrenheit, the temperature is obviously the same. If you want to convert from one measure to the other, you use the formula F° = 32 + 1.8C°. If you were to then graph the relationship, you would get a straight line. That straight line tells you that the two measures have an inner unity. The unity between the word and the reality is consistent with Judaism's claim that Torah is the "blueprint of creation."
Who would have predicted that the numerical values of the Hebrew words for day, month and year - yom, yerach and shanah - would correlate precisely to their durations on a logarithmic scale? In any area of science, this degree of correlation would be considered very significant. The question arises: Are these time-words like zip files full of minutes, and their gematrias like kilobyte labels indicating the "size" of the file?

The same applies to the diameters of the sun, moon and earth. When Shore plotted NASA's values for the sizes of these heavenly bodies against the numerical values of the Hebrew words shemesh, yareach, and aretz, he once again got a very significant statistical correlation.
Is it possible that the ancients knew the diameters of the sun, moon and earth?

The question reminds me of a hospital administrator friend of mine who marveled aloud tabout the amazing coincidence that on the eighth day of a person's life the concentration of the blood clotting factor, Vitamin K, is at its highest. "How amazing," she said, "that the ancient Hebrews in Egypt knew about Vitamin K so many thousands of years ago."
I begged to differ.
The Jews in Egypt did not know any more about Vitamin K, than they did about the diameters of the sun, moon and earth, or the wavelengths of red, yellow, magenta, green and blue light.
The truth is that the one and same Intelligent Designer who gave us the commandment of circumcision on the eighth day, also gave us the wherewithal to optimally heal ourselves of the wound.
Similarly, the Hebrew words that convey Torah's wisdom to us have infinitely more wisdom within them, scientific and otherwise, than we will ever be able to download, for in fact they are an earthly impression of the Divine speech with which the world was created. They exist above as "black fire on white fire" according to the kabbalists, continuously creating the world and all that's in it yesh me'ayin, ex nihilo.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that it is because mankind is already on the threshold of the complete and ultimate redemption, that these profound mystic realities are already "in the air," i.e., an intrinsic part of world culture. Ours is called the Information Age and we are increasingly aware that  information creates reality. More than that, it's not too far-fetched to say that indeed information IS reality.
John Wheeler, certainly one of the greatest physicists of the 20th Century, used to spend six months a year on a little island off the coast of Maine contemplating exactly this: How information creates reality, and even is reality. His final major paper, It From Bit, celebrates information as the mediator between the conscious, indivisible wholeness which is the ultimate ground of reality, and the physical world that emerges from it.
But while physicists have been celebrating this concept for mere decades, the Jews have been celebrating it for millennia. G-d said, Let there be light, and there was light. Baruch she'amar v'haya ha'olam, and she'hakol nihyah bidvaro.
Very soon the time will arrive that "The world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the sea." At that point even Shakespeare will realize that a vered by any other name is not a rose at all.

Dr. Aryeh (Arnie) Gotfryd, PhD is a chassid, environmental scientist, author and educator living near Toronto, Canada. To read more or to book him for a talk, visit his website at



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