Many people have asked the following question, prompted by the Drosnin book: "If the future is encoded in the Torah, why can we not use the codes to predict the future?" I will provide a couple of simple answers.

1. The effect of the Torah codes, simply stated, is this: Words that are conceptually related to each other (e.g., via an historical event) are sometimes found encoded in close proximity to each other. The specific relationship discovered by Witztum and Rips (in the book of Genesis) is [personality name] and [Date of birth] or [personality name] and [date of death]. The one found by Gans is [same personality names as before] and [cities of birth] or [same personality names as before] and [cities of death]. Several other relationships have since been discovered by Witztum and Rips as well. Since this encoding is only "sometimes," a statistical test is done to see whether the number of such occurrences found exceeds the random expection in a statistically significant way. We use the word "proximity" loosely; the true definition is mathematically complex.

2. In formal logic, the statement "B implies A" is the converse of "A implies B." The truth of the converse of a statement is quite independent of the truth of that statement. For example, consider the statement "Gold glitters" (Formally, in logic, we would state this as an implication: "If something is gold, this implies that it glitters"). The converse is "Anything that glitters is gold" and is obviously false. Thus, the folk wisdom: "All that glitters is not gold." The problem is that although it is true that gold glitters, there are many other things that glitter too. Similarly with the codes. There are 78,064 letters in Genesis and many skip distances for els's to consider. There will be many many words which will occur in close proximity to each other even though they are formed at random. Thus, given two words in close proximity we cannot conclude the converse, namely that they are related through some historical event. Of course, if one makes enough such predictions, particularly if they are reasonable, one is likely to guess right sometimes. But that is all it is: a lucky guess. To summarize: the statement "If words are related to each other via an historical event then they will be in close proximity to each other more often than expected by coincidence," while true, does not imply the truth of its converse "If two words are in close proximity to each other then they are related to each other through some historical (or future historical) event." Thus, the concept of using codes to predict the future is logically flawed.

3. Since some historical events do have related words encoded in close proximity to each other, one might think that some of the time, when one finds words in close proximity to each other, it will in fact, be one of these codes. In such a case, perhaps these can predict the future? One problem, of course, is that how is one to know if any particular example of words in close proximity belongs to a true code, rather than being just a mere coincidence? One might insist on only using words whose close proximity has statistical significance. But there are several problems with this: (a) Unless the words have been specified completely before the search is instituted, no probablity can be legitamately computed. That is to say, one might go through the steps of calculating a probability without any flaw in the computations, but the end result will be meaningless anyway. Of course, it is quite difficult to specify words associated with a potential future event in an a priori way because the event has not happened yet! (b) There is a further problem: In looking at a past event, the context of words associated with that event are known. However, for a future event, the context is not known: one is trying to deduce the context from the words. This is, of course, subjective and has absolutely nothing to do with mathematically verifiable codes. Let us take a simple example. We find "Yeshua" (the currently popular name for Jesus) encoded in close proximity to "Moshiach" (Messiah). Some would like to conclude that the context is "Yeshua is the Moshiach." However there are a number of other contexts that could be valid, even if this proximity were statistically significant (which it absolutely is NOT [see the excellent paper by Rabbi Daniel Mechanic on this]): The code could mean "Yeshua will think that he is Moshiach," or "Many people will believe that Yeshua is Moshiach," or "Someone has yet to be born with the name 'Yeshua' who will dream he is the moshiach," and on and on. Now this example was not of a future event (although maybe it is?), but the idea is the same. Consider "Yitzchok Rabin" in close proximity to "the murderer will murder" (not assassinate!). Is this hinting that Rabin will be murdered? Or is hinting that Rabin will be a murderer (some say that he was). Or is it really saying, as per the true context of the text itself, that someone will accidentally murder Rabin (or Rabin will accidentally murder someone else)? In summary, since the context of a future event is not known, that context must be subjectively derived from the words found encoded. Thus the process is a subjective one with no basis in mathematically verifiable codes. One might just as well use the text of "War and Peace" to look for meaningful context! (Actually, unbelievable as it may seem, some people have actually done it! This demonstates clearly that deducing context from "encoded" words has nothing at all to do with Torah or mathematics. It is only when one starts with an established a priori list of words that one even has a chance of finding statistically verifiable codes - provided, of course, that one knows how to do the test properly). I hope this helps people understand the logical fallacy of trying to predict the future with Torah codes.

Harold Gans

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