Sofer sees divine hand in variations, patterns
By Zach Itzkovitz
As a certified sofer (Torah scribe), Rabbi Mordechai Danneman devotes intense focus to the script of the Torah. Accordingly, he notices fine details that most do not.
“When you write a Torah, you have to copy from an existing Torah,” Rabbi Danneman said. “Not only that, you have to say every single word out loud before you write it.”
During a pre-Shavuot lecture titled “Who Wrote the Torah?” Thursday, May 21, at Congregation Ariel, the rabbi shared with a small but enthralled group of learners the insights he has gained from spending so much intimate time with Scripture.
The Torah has a number of cryptic messages and recurring patterns, according to the rabbi. Those who practice Kabbalah read the Torah differently — even the minutest detail is a significant divine message that merits analysis and discussion.
“This idea of codes in the Torah, beginning of words and equidistant skips is a very old concept,” Rabbi Danneman said.
He said the variety of patterns in the Torah and their unlikelihood prove divine authorship.
“Fifty represents the Shabbas also,” Rabbi Danneman said. “If you count from the first tav in the Torah, Bereshit, and you count every 50 letters, it spells tav, vav, reish, hei — Torah. It spells Torah every 50 letters.”
Rabbi Danneman also said the Book of Esther predicts the Nuremberg trials. The book lists 10 sons of Haman by name, but some letters appear smaller or larger than others. A small tav, shin and zayin are found in the names, as well as a large vav.
The first three letters add up to 707 if they are replaced by their corresponding numbers. Vav refers to six. Rabbi Danneman interprets this six as the sixth millennium — the current millennium on the Hebrew calendar. Thus, the four letters combine to denote 5707. That year corresponds to 1946, the year 10 Nazi war criminals were hanged because of convictions at the Nuremberg trials.
In some translations, Esther 9:13 reads: “Esther replied, ‘If it pleases the king, allow the Jews of Shushan to do tomorrow as they have done today, and let Haman’s 10 sons be hanged on the gallows.’ ”
Rabbi Danneman views that text as additional proof of prophecy in Esther.
To conclude his class, the rabbi asked his initial and titular question: “Who wrote the Torah?” To this question, there were no eager answers, only surrounding silence.