Have other Hebrew texts the size of the Torah been searched for Codes? Have tests been done on the "New Testament" concerning codes?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
It is self-evident that one can find ELSs of words in any text. One could easily find "encoded words" in Harry Potter, the Manhattan telephone directory, or even on the side of a box of cereal.
The question is not one of finding ELSs. The simple fact is that no one has found the statistically significant effect found in Genesis. The Hebrew version of War and Peace was searched, as well as the novel Hachnasat Kalla by Nobel Prize-winning Israeli author Shai Agnon. Neither produced any statistically meaningful Codes results.
The issue is what is the statistical validity of such codes. To be valid, a code must be "a priori," meaning that the parameters of the search are defined beforehand. This is the methodology employed for the Great Rabbis Experiment.
Without this "a priori" factor, we found codes of "messiahs," including “Yeshua” (Jesus), “Mohammed” and “Krishna”. Furthermore, names like David Koresh, (the self-proclaimed Messiah responsible for the death of over 100 cult followers in Texas) and Reverend Moon are found encoded in the Torah.
So the issue comes down to one of statistical significance. If you want to know what separates a true code from a fake code, you need to talk to the statisticians.
No religion besides Judaism claims to have a book that is a letter-for-letter divine message from God. Codes cannot be accurately searched in the New Testament, because there are thousands of variant versions of the text. Thus there would be no statistically significant way to search through all the variant texts.
Christians claim that God revealed to us that Jesus is the Messiah since “Yeshua” is found in hundreds of passages throughout the Bible. This is an extremely dangerous and irresponsible misuse of the authentic Codes phenomenon. One could use this form of "codes research" to reach many spiritually absurd conclusions.
In his 13 Principles of Faith, Maimonides includes the belief that "the Torah which we have today is that given to Moshe on Mount Sinai." One of the many methods of preserving the accuracy of any Torah scroll was by comparing it to "Sefer Ha'Azarah," a flawless copy of the Torah which was kept in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. (see Talmud – Moed Katan, and Maimonides – Tefillin 7:2)
How can we be sure that the text we have today is correct? God knew when computers would become available, and therefore gauged what the Torah would need to look like at that time. Obviously this is the text God intended for us to have.
For more on this, see: www.aish.com/h/sh/tat/48969731.html
I attend a lot of business functions where they serve sushi and caviar. I try to eat only kosher food. What is the story on this?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The Torah (Leviticus 11:9) teaches that a kosher fish must possess both fins and scales. (Fins help the fish swim, and scales cover the body.) Even if the fish has only one scale or one fin, it is permitted. Tuna, for example, has very few scales, yet is kosher. Other popular kosher fish are bass, carp, cod, flounder, halibut, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon.
Crustaceans (e.g. lobster and crab) and other shellfish (e.g. clams) are not kosher, because they lack scales. Further, all mammals (e.g. whales and dolphins) are not kosher.
There are kosher varieties of sushi – providing the sushi itself has proper rabbinic supervision. This is necessary because mislabeling is a major issue in the fish business, and you would need to see the whole fish with scales to rely on it.
There are other potential kashrut problems as well: "Unsupervised" seaweed may contain sea creatures and bugs. The sauces, oils and even rice could have any number of issues. The fish and vegetables must be prepared with only kosher utensils (e.g. knife, cutting board, etc.). Especially in today's world of highly processed foods, unsupervised sushi should not be relied upon.
As for caviar, the term typically refers to sturgeon roe, which is not kosher. If you are looking for alternatives to sturgeon roe to serve at a fancy dinner, there are kosher-supervised varieties available.
Even if you feel you are not yet ready to commit to kashrut fully, it is still meritorious to minimize the likelihood, frequency and severity of transgression.
So I should point out that if you consciously avoid the varieties that are certainly forbidden – such as sturgeon caviar, eel and shellfish – and limit yourself to things like tuna and salmon, you are avoiding certain multiple prohibitions, but may still be incurring others.
This is acceptable as a short-term solution, because Judaism is not all-or-nothing. Rather it is a process, a journey, where every step counts.
I see many people in synagogue who bring their own Megillah scrolls for the reading. Is there any reason for that? I mean, shouldn’t they be quietly listening to the reader the entire time? Isn’t the reader’s scroll sufficient?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Very good question, first of all! Yes, everyone present for the reading of the Megillah should be silently listening to the reader. One of the rabbinically-ordained mitzvot of Purim is to recite the Megillah, both at night and at day (Talmud Megillah 4a), and this must be done from a kosher scroll (Mishna Megillah 2:1). We fulfill our obligation by listening to the reader in the synagogue. Even someone who has his own scroll should preferably hear the Megillah from the reader rather than recite it himself. The codifiers learn this from the verse “in a great multitude is the glory of the King” (Proverbs 14:28; see Mishna Berura 687:5). It is a much greater sanctification of God and publicizing of the miracle of Purim telling over the story in a large crowd rather than for a single person to recite it himself.
So why do many try to bring their own scroll? In case they miss a word. We are obligated to hear every word of the Megillah. What happens if a person loses concentration or cannot hear a few words from the reader as a result of noise – especially as a result of the children banging at Haman’s name during the reading? Technically, a person can read up to half the words of the Megillah from his own (printed) edition if he missed them (Mishna Berura 690:7). However, ideally, he should read every word from a scroll. Therefore, people will generally bring a scroll if they own one. In case they miss a word, they will be able to make it up from a kosher scroll.