Monday, June 4, 2012

Seeing the Sounds



The following is the Torah's awe-inspiring description of the theophany at Mount Sinai:
"And it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there was thunder and lightning and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of a horn exceeding loud; and all the people that were in the camp trembled ... 
Now Mount Sinai was completely on smoke, because G-d descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like that of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
 And the voice of the horn waxed louder and louder ... And G-d spoke all these words, saying ... I am the L-rd your G-d ... And all the people saw the sounds, and the lightning, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking." (Exodus 19-20) 
 According to the Talmud, the words: "All the people saw the sounds," mean that the Israelites actually saw the sounds of the Ten Commandments; that is, each word spoken by Hashem took the form of letters that pierced the sky like lightening.


Exactly what form did those letters take?


The ancient Kabbalistic text, Sefer ha- Yetzirah, discusses the spiritual significance of the Hebrew alphabet.  In contrast to man-made letters, which are merely conventional, the Hebrew alphabet is considered to have been given by Hashem, and represents profound spiritual forces - in modern terms, different energies that flow through each letter.  For example, the letters of Hashem's command: "Let there be light" - va 'yehi ohr actually convey and bring into being the infinite varieties of light found in creation: from the visible to the invisible, from the spiritual to the manifest.  Although the Talmudic Sages disagree upon which script was used to write the Torah given at Sinai,  the Kabbalists clearly state that it was the same script used today in writing a Torah scroll - the square Hebrew lettering known as the Ashuri (Assyrian) script.  According to Kabbalists, this name has nothing to do with the Assyrian Empire, but derives from the shape of the letters, which are a confirmation (ishurin Hebrew) of their inner meanings, and bestow happiness (osher) upon those who can penetrate their secrets.

In our time, two Israeli scientists - Chayim Yaakov Guggenheim and Chayim Ben-Harav-Chai Elbeze - have each made an amazing discovery that illuminates the shape and sound of the Hebrew letters.

Chayim Yaakov Guggenheim is an Electro-optics Engineer at Aircraft Industries of Israel.  He was part of the team that developed the Lavi fighter jet.  When he came across the statement of the Sages above, it sparked in him an idea.  Today, sophisticated instruments can transform sound waves into images that can be displayed on a computer monitor.  Guggenheim wondered if it was possible to use these instruments to display, in tangible form, the ancient Jewish understanding that the sound of the letters actually correspond to their shape.

Guggenheim was initially skeptical, particularly in view of the fact that our present-day pronunciation of a number of the letters differs from the original spoken Hebrew.  Despite his skepticism, and much to his amazement, he discovered that the sound waves for seventeen out of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet create an on-screen image very similar to the shape of the written letter itself.

All the details of the experiment were written in an article by Guggenheim, which describes the way in which the experiment was performed, its reliability in scientific terms, and the conclusion he draws. The article is too extensive and technical for reproduction here; but, I have copied some of the actual computer generated images of the Hebrew letter.  This is actually seeing the wave generated by the sound of the Hebrew letter.

What follows is an experiment of the computer generated images of English letters. There doesn't seem to be a mystical representation of the English.  It's a good thing Hashem used Hebrew at Mount Sinai.

14 comments:

  1. I wanted to ask what kind of pronouncation did he used when doing this experiment. I head that the Yemenite pronouncation is most authentic. what are your thoughts on that? If he got 17 out of 22 letters to show up than 5 letters were not pronounced right?

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    1. Excellent question. I thought the same when I read the article that Guggenheim had published. I read it about 6 months ago and I think it had the answer. I am looking for the article and will give you further information (I may scan the article and make it available to anyone who wants it -- B"N). I had an interesting conversation with a very talented Ba'al Korie (the one who reads the Torah in Shul) about 7 years ago. Since I am surrounded by about 150 minionim in the city in which I live, Ashkenaz, Sefardi, Tamani,etc, I asked him "which nusach is the proper pronunciation?" He said they are all correct and all effective for Torah reading and our prayer; but, the ancient pronunciation was probably something of a combination, something in-between. It is said among some mystics that an as-yet undisclosed nusach will be revealed after the coming of Mashiach. Others say that the differences in nusach are derived from differences between the twelve tribes of Israel, and that in Messianic times each tribe will have its proper nusach. A good question for Eliyahu Hanavi when he comes soon.

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    2. Thanks for your answer, is it possible to replicate this experiment using the different nusach, and find out which one will give the best results? here is a great video of Hebrew alphabet and it sounds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7RIAPosxEI

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  2. This is awesome! I'd love to see a similar attempt to support the 'divine inspiration' of other so-called scriptures... How about Greek?

    David
    Oklahoma

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    1. See my answer above. I believe the article mentions that it is only the Hebrew letters (which is why I included the English images). I hope to find the article today and make it available. I get chills every time I make a new discovery of how awesome Hashem is and His creation. I have books on the subject and could go on for months posting such awesome blog writings. Indications, however, are that we are close enough to the time when we will be made aware of everything from Hashem, Himself -- B"H.

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  3. I am looking forward to seeing the article. Also, are all the letters represented and similar to the sound wave or just the few you posted ?

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  4. From Truthbetold613: I knew about this for many years. The letters look the best when a Yemenite pronunciation is used. Sephardic such as North African pronunciation was not as close to the real letter from as Yemenite, and the worst although still very good, was Ashkenazi pronunciation. Even more interesting was the fact that when an Alef was pronounced by a Jew who never spoke Hebrew or by a Yemenite Jew, or any other Jew, The Alef had a certain amount of strands. Yet, when a non Jew with a prefect Hebrew or a not perfect Hebrew, would say the Alef, there would be a different amount of Strands in the Alef. Thus, there were two distinct Alefs, one said by Jews and one said by non Jews. I know an expert who knows about this subject in detail. I will not publish his name, however if the website owner wants more info, let him post on the board that he wants the man’s contact info, and I will email it to the website owner.

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  5. I wonder.. Could I have a link to the original article please?

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    1. I took the information from a fascinating book by Rabbi Zamir Cohen called "The Coming Revolution." I don't have the book available now to research the original article, but do recommend you get the book. There are many great mysteries of the creation that are discussed -- many great discoveries of modern science and, best of all, where it can be found in scriptures. In other words, scientist are constantly discovering phenomenon that the Rabbis have known for thousands of years.

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    2. Interestingly paleo-hebrew was used to write the Tetragram,while the Assyrian script was in use. "For a limited time thereafter, the use of the paleo-Hebrew script among Jews was retained only to write the Tetragrammaton"-Wikipedia, So it seems like they felt that paleo-hebrew was the holier script.

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    3. Be aware that Wikipedia like most of the web is very questionable on accuracy. The Hebrew letters we use today (Torah, Mezuzah, Tefilin, etc) are the same Hebrew letters that Moshe Rabbeinu received from Hashem 3326 1/2 years ago (ask any kosher scribe). It is also the same Hebrew that we found in all biblical references of the Dead Sea Scrolls, estimated at 2300 years ago. Yes, there are variations of script, just as there are variations of any language (fonts are a way of life in this modern day and age). The most interesting thing is that Lashon Hakodesh, the Holy Tongue, is kept sacred by Hashem making sure that people had fancy ways to use Hebrew letters, such as cursive. Examples include every product I can buy in the supermarket. It would be a sin to use good Torah font on the mundane. There are even words that have been changed in modern day Hebrew to avoid a Chillul Hashem.

      After Moshiach is introduced, it is brought down that Hebrew will revert back to Lashon Hakodesh, since everything in the world will be kodesh.

      I know that I am oversimplifying a very complicated subject, but watch out for web explanations which in most cases come from Goyim.

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    4. I know that to an outsider it seems as if the Paleo-Hebrew was used for the YKVK since it was holier, but my personal theory is that they used Paleo-Hebrew for scrolls used for learning or scribal practice: http://www.mywesternwall.net/2013/05/12/dead-sea-scrolls-paleo-hebrew-in-hashems-name-and-more.html See more for details :-)

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    5. I don't consider myself an expert on script. The website that you presented is very interesting. It seems like a very similar situation that exists in Israel today. When I go to the local supermarket and see all the products, which are all in Hebrew, it is obvious that they would not do a chillul Hashem by using the script of Torah. There are so many fancy fonts used for products, street signs, books, magazines, billboards, etc, etc, etc, with the same intent on using Hebrew not Lashon HaKodesh. It does seem that as the Dead Sea Scroll writers were not wanting the parchments to be Shaimos, genizah, so do we today use alternative Hebrew letters.

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