Fifth Root & Branch Association
Jerusalem Bible Codes Conference

November 23, 2006

By Nathan Jacobi, Ph.D.


Since I moved to Israel about six months ago, this was the first Bible code conference I have attended, and it was well worth the effort. Most of the conference was devoted to four, one-hour lectures by leading experts, with time provided for questions and comments from the audience. The speakers were Dr. Alexander Rotenberg, Yakov Gugenheim, Nachum Bombach, and Professor Eliyahu Rips, with opening comments by chairman Dr. Yochanan Spielberg, the organizer of the conference.

Dr. Spielberg, whose work in recent years is posted on his website TorahSoft.com, opened the conference by mentioning that the most recent meetings had been workshops for active researchers, while this conference was a conscious attempt to open it up more to the public. Dr. Spielberg also presented an overview of Bible codes, including recent examples obtained by his own software, Bible Search Pro. When I spoke with him later, he said that his program is roughly equivalent with some of the better-known programs, with each of them having their own distinct features.

There were about 50 in attendance, despite the competition from the Thanksgiving holiday, which some celebrate in Israel. It is hoped the trend will continue of opening these meetings both to the general public and to qualified researchers from other countries.

The first speaker was Dr. Alexander Rotenberg, an associate of Professor Rips with a Ph.D. in the area of probability and statistics from Moscow State University. He discussed his new book And All This is Truth!: Mysteries Hidden in the Book of Books. The book is quite poorly advertised and distributed, but has high praise from Professors Rips and Robert Haralick. The book contains discussions of the statistical significance of observed codes, and the author told me that it has two mathematical appendices, one by himself, and the other, a contribution by Professor Rips.

The talk that attracted the most attention was by Yakov Gugenheim, the French-born Israeli engineer and observing Jew, whose regular job is developing radar and countermeasure defenses for advanced missile systems. The talk was not strictly about Bible codes, but had to do with hidden messages and phenomena in the Bible. Gugenheim has long wondered about the meaning of the verse:
    And all the people saw the thunderings [sounds], and the lightnings, and the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they were shaken, and stood far away. (Exodus 20:15, Keys to the Bible)

This verse describes the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. In his lecture, entitled "Seeing the Voice," Gugenheim described a unique physical realization of converting an acoustic signal to an optical image, which seems to explain perfectly what happened on Mount Sinai over three millennia ago. Using Fourier analysis of acoustic signals and optical signatures, in conjunction with advanced computer technology, Gugenheim shows very dramatically that when Hebrew letters are properly pronounced, their optical images look exactly like the letters as they are written in Hebrew! So far, this has been convincingly demonstrated for 17 out of 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Details are given in his website, PictureVoice.com. [This website is no longer active.]

The next speaker was Nachum Bombach, an Israeli CPA who has become one of the most active Bible code researchers in Israel in the last ten years. He runs his own website TorahCodes.org, which is, unfortunately, only available in Hebrew. He also publishes on two more Bible Code sites available in English. One of them is Art Levitt's site, TorahCodes.net, which is the most thorough and most detailed site reflecting Israeli Bible code research. Bombach is also involved in joint projects with other researchers, such as Rips and Harold Gans.

The last lecture, that properly kept everybody in suspense, was "Unfolding Mysteries of the Codes" by Professor Eliyahu Rips, in which he provided a wide range of examples and approaches, and summarized where code research stands now. He stressed the importance of clusters, long codes, minimum skips, close proximity between elements in a cluster, and the relation between the code message and the content of the underlying surface text.

One unusual approach he takes is to ask explicit questions. Thus, when , why holocaust? was asked, the question landed on the golden calf story. When , why troubles? was asked, the question landed on the story of expulsion from Paradise. Another fascinating example was a small Oedipus complex cluster, including Freud's name, along with the statements "I dream about my mother," and "my father is my enemy."

Due to the publication of various criticisms, mostly by Brendon McKay and Barry Simon, Eliyahu Rips, Doron Witztum, and Yoav Rosenberg have had a problem following the publication of their seminal article, Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis (1994. Statistical Science Vol. 9, No. 3, 429-438). Neither the Journal of Statistical Science nor any other major peer-reviewed professional publication has agreed to publish Rips and Witztum's detailed rebuttals to the criticisms raised. This situation was partially resolved this past August when no less than seven highly technical papers were submitted, peer-reviewed, and accepted for presentation in the 18th International Conference on Pattern Recognition, in Hong Kong. Preprints of these seven papers are provided in Art Levitt's site at TorahCodes.net. The general consensus is that Bible code research is now regaining its good name, and that work in this area can be restored and reported in a more orderly manner than has been the case in the last six or seven years.

Another popular site where Rips and other researchers often publish their findings is Hidabroot.org, which is a site designed to improve the communication between observing and non-observing Jews. It is a recommended, carefully presented, and quite interesting site on different cultural topics, of which Bible codes is only one. It contains a lot of material, including video and audio presentations, and is particularly strong in reporting new codes on recent events. (At the top of the home page, there is a button for switching to the English version of the site.)

This Torah code meeting was quite successful, and the audience present was responsive and interested, so opening it more to the general public was the right thing to do, which will hopefully continue more fully in the near future.

It is my hope that BCD readers got a glimpse of Bible code activity in Israel through this article. Israel is certainly the center of Torah code research, as well as in the center of many current events. In a single day, I was able to collect more information and make more useful contacts than would have been possible over many months. I look forward to reporting more about Israeli Bible code activities in the near future.



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