Random Quote #59 topic: hebraic, Translations from the Talmud, Midrashim and Kabbala


This teaches the secret of mystic sense of Scripture, and the thirteen
rules by which the observance of the law is, not logically, but
Kabbalistically expounded; viz, the rules of "Gematria," of "Notricon,"
of "Temurah," etc. To give some idea of this kind of exposition, we will
explain each of these three rules in a manner which, though in the style
of the Rabbis, will easily be understood by the Gentile reader.

1. "Gematria." This rule depends on the numerical value of each letter
in the alphabet. The application of this rule in the solution of a
disputed point is often such as to show quite as much absurdity as
ingenuity. To make the subject still more clear, let us assume that a
standard numerical value is attached to each letter in the English
alphabet. _A_ has the value of 1, _B_ 2, _C_ 3, _D_ 4, _E_ 5, _F_ 6, _G_
7, _H_ 8, _I_ 9, _J_ 10, _K_ 20, _L_ 30, _M_ 40, _N_ 50, _O_ 60, _P_ 70,
_Q_ 80, _R_ 90, _S_ 100, _T_ 200, _U_ 300, _V_ 400, _W_ 500, _X_ 1000,
_Y_ 10,000, _Z_ 100,000. And let us now assume a point in dispute in
order to illustrate how it is solved by Gematria. Suppose that the
subject of discussion is the comparative superiority of the Hebrew and
English languages, and Hugo and Baruch are the disputants. The former,
being a Hebrew, holds that the Hebrew is superior to the English,
"because," says he, "the numerical value of the letters that form the
word _Hebrew_ is 610; whereas the numerical value of _English_ is only
209." The latter, being an Englishman, holds, of course, exactly the
contrary opinion, and argues as follows: "All the learned world must
admit that the English is a living language, but not so the Hebrew; and
as it is written (Eccles. ix. 4) that 'A living dog is better than a
dead lion,' I therefore maintain that the English is superior to the
Hebrew." The dispute was referred to an Oxford authority for decision,
and a certain learned doctor decided it by--

2. "Notricon." This consists in forming a decisive sentence composed of
words whose initial letters are in a given word; for instance,
_Hebrew_:--"_H_ugo's _e_xcels _B_aruch's _r_easoning _e_very _w_ay."
_English_:--"_E_nglish _n_o _g_ood _l_anguage, _i_s _s_carcely
_h_armonious;" but _Hebrew_:--"_H_oly, _e_legant, _b_rilliant,
_r_esonant, _e_liciting _w_onder!" This is a fair specimen of how to get
at the secret sense of a word by the rule of "Notricon," and now we will
proceed to explain--

3. "Temurah." This means permutation, or a change of the letters of the
alphabet after a regularly adopted system. We know only five such
permuted alphabets, but there may be more. The technical names of these
five alphabets are: "Atbash," "Atbach," "Albam," "Aiakbechar," and
"Tashrak." We will try to explain the first permuted alphabet only, as a
mere specimen, for the general reader is not quite prepared to
comprehend the rest, and a hint for the scholar is sufficient.

Here let the reader observe that as the letters of the English alphabet
are more numerous and differently designated and arranged than those of
the Hebrew, the "Atbash" of the Hebrew must necessarily become "Azby" in
English. If now we write on one line and in regular order the first half
of the alphabet, and the other half on the second line, but in reversed
order, thus:--

a b c d e f g h i j k l m
z y x w v u t s r q p o n

we get thirteen couples of letters which exchange one with the other,
viz, _a_ and _z_, _b_ and _y_, _c_ and _x_, etc. These letters, when
exchanged, give rise to a permuted alphabet, and this permuted alphabet
takes its technical name from the first two couples of letters, _a_ and
_z_, _b_ and _y_, or "Azby." Now if we wish to write, "Meddle not with
them that are given to change," you have to change the letters of the
couples and the following will be the result: "Nvwwov mlg drgs gsvn gszg
ziv trem gl xszmtv." This is a specimen of the mysterious Temurah, and
the "Azby" is the key to it. The other four permuted alphabets are of a
similar nature and character, and are so highly esteemed among the sages
and bards of Israel, that they often use them in their literary and
poetical compositions. The Machzorim, or the Jewish Liturgies for the
festivals, are full of compositions where the first letters of the
sentences follow the order of either the "Atbash" or "Tashrak." The
latter is simply a reversed order of the alphabet.


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