This edition: May 27, 1999; First edition: September 19, 1997.
In [WRR2], Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg found a surprising correlation between famous rabbis and their dates of birth and death, as they appear as equidistant letter sequences in the Book of Genesis. We make a smaller or equal number of mistakes, and find the same phenomenon in Tolstoy's eternal creation "War and Peace".
Institute of Mathematics
The Hebrew University
Giv'at-Ram, Jerusalem 91904
Department of Computer Science
Australian National University
Canberra, ACT, 0200
2. Their choices, our choices
2.1. Modifications to specific appellations
2.2. Modifications to the list of personalities
2.3. Modifications to the list of dates
2.4. Our list of appellations
3. The Results
Our inspiration comes from reading the paper [WRR2] by Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg (WRR). The outline of the story in [WRR2] is as follows:
In [WRR2], WRR write:
The list of appellations for each personality was provided by Professor S.Z. Havlin, of the Department of Bibliography and Librarianship at Bar Ilan University, on the basis of a computer search of the "Responsa" database at that university.Contrary to what is suggested by the above quote, many of the appellations WRR use do not even appear in the Bar-Ilan Responsa database [Re]. Thus in addition to the Responsa database [Re] we will also refer to the Margalioth Encyclopedia [Marg], used by WRR to select the rabbis, and to the highly-regarded Encyclopedia Hebraica [Heb] used by WRR in several of their other investigations. We (like WRR) also use other sources as needed.
We note that there may be a case for removing the name ןידמע altogether, for it is just the name of a town were the Yaabez was briefly a Rabbi, and not his last name. The Yaabez himself wrote in [Ya],
... The busy Yaakov Israel known as Yaabez good omen was never called Yaakov Emdyn (ןידמע) (as has done the honourable in the address on this letter as is the deplorable habit in the tongues of the people). It is known I am not from the people of Emdyn, was not born there, do not expect to see it, but am looking after its welfare and benefit as in the former times when I was under it's load, [and] so also am I now diligent for it's remedy. ...Little did his plea help, and the Yaabez has several common appellations which are variants of the word ןידמע. We keep them in our list. However, we can learn from this example that WRR didn't mind using names that were not used (or were even rejected) by their bearers. This lesson will become relevant in the case of Rabbi Shlomo Chelma below.
At this point we got the advice of two wise men. One suggested that we look at [Hei], a book on the Jewish laws in the state of Moravia, where Rabbi Menachem Mendel was the state's Rabbi. From the other wise man we learned to check the citations in the footnotes. One footnote, on page 111 of [Hei], he checked himself. It lead to an article [Marx], that contains a letter written by the son of a nephew of Rabbi Menachem Mendel in the late 17th century, only a few dozen years after Rabbi Menachem Mendel died in 1661. In that letter Rabbi Menachem Mendel's surname is given as לאמחארק. The following day (and a continent away), we checked the footnote on page 102. It lead us to two articles, [Hor] and [Ka], devoted to our Rabbi and his descendents. Both articles use the spelling לאמכארק extensively and not just in passing, and the latter one even explains where the name comes from! It relates the name לאמכארק to a certain Dayan, Rabbi Jonah Krochmals in the city of Cracow, where Rabbi Menachem Mendel was born. A transcript of the tombstone of Rabbi Jonah Krochmals is given in [Zu, page 180] and Krochmals is spelled שלאמכארק there. Thus there is no doubt that the original spelling of the name Krochmal is לאמכארק and thus it is fully justified to remove the appellation למכורק from the list, an to put לאמכארק instead.
We also note that once it is clear that לאמכארק is an acceptable spelling for Krochmal, the usage of this spelling is mandatory according to the WRR rules, which state explicitly that Yiddish names are spelled as in the original Yiddish. Recall that לאמכארק is a the Yiddish word for starch, and from [Ka] we learn that the first people to be called by the family name Krochmal were called so because they traded in starch.
However, in his "refutation" of a draft version of this article, Witztum argued against the use of the appellation לאמכארק. We completely disagreed with his argument, but were amused to note that Witztum himself gives a reference for a source that uses the form לאמכורק. If, as Witztum indicates, לאמכורק is a valid form, then it must have been used along with למכורק, by Witztum's own "mater-lectionis" rule. Thus we may feel free to use either לאמכארק or לאמכורק instead of למכורק. This time we chose לאמכורק.
At the same time we note that WRR's use of variants like אתוכז and ותוכז sets a precedent which we are allowed to follow elsewhere. Hence for Rabbi II-28, Rabbi Moshe Margalith, we add the variant תוילגרמ of his last name. This variant appears in the titles of his entries in [Az, Vin, St, Ju, Fri], in the entry for his book in [B-Y] (p. 487) and also in the index of [Marg].
More than that, one expert we consulted said that there is a possibility that even this single appearance is no more than a typo in the original addendum. The reason for this suggestion is that a different permutation of these letters, הפר ר"חעהא, appears with its expansion, יקיר יח לאונמע ריעצה ינא (me the young, Immanuel Hai Ricchi), and an explanation of the הפר part, several times in several of this rabbi's books. We note that in Hebrew the latter expansion makes much more sense than the former, since the former taken literally means "I'm alive, the young Immanuel Ricchi". Indeed, the acronym ר"חעהא is listed in the dictionary of acronyms [AY], while ר"עה ח"א is not. (By the way, since הפר ר"חעהא is also a non-pronounced signature it may be considered wrong to include it as well, if one wishes to take WRR's commitment to pronounced appellations more seriously than they did.) Be that as it may, the reasons brought before are more than enough to show clearly that including ר"עה ח"א is extremely wrong. We remove it.
On the other hand, we found two other signatures (or self-references) used by this rabbi, that unlike הפר ר"חעהא and הפר ר"עהחא, are definitely pronounced, and therefore we add them. These are: ר"ישעה - appears in [Ri1] page 4. It is a permuted acronym of ו"צי יקיר לאונמע ימשש ריעצה, and also serves as a word-play on the name of the book "Hon-Ashir". ע"רו בהוא - appears in [Ri2] - part 2, page 53b. means "loving friend" and also is an acronym of "Ricchi Immanuel".
Thus we wish to add the appellations אמלח, אמלעח, אמלח המלש, and אמלעח המלש. In practice we only add אמלעח and אמלח המלש, for the other two appellations do not fit within 5-8 letters. We will add that it appears that this Rabbi didn't use these names himself, but was only called so by others, however as WRR's precedent with the name Emdin (that was mentioned above) shows, this needn't make any difference, and these names can be included.
|The old and new lists, a comparative table|
|#||Original entry||we remove||we add||new entry|
|1||,י"בארה ,ד"בארה ,לוכשאה
םהרבא יבר ,ד"בא ברה
|,י"בארה ,ד"בארה ,לוכשאה
םהרבא יבר ,ד"בא ברה
|2||םהרבא יבר ,יקחצי ,םהרבא ערז||םהרבא יבר ,יקחצי ,םהרבא ערז|
|3||םהרבא יבר ,ךאלמה||ךאלמה||םהרבא יבר|
|4||יבר ,רמה רורצ ,עבס םהרבא|
|--- completely removed ---|
|5||ןרהא יבר||ןרהא יבר|
|6||ה/ו/ה/י ישעמ ,םשה ישעמ||ישעמ ,'ה ישעמ לעב
|ישעמ ,'ה ישעמ ,'ה ישעמ לעב
ה/ו/ה/י ישעמ ,םשה
|7||דוד יבר ,םיהנפוא||דוד יבר ,םיהנפוא|
|8||דוד יבר ,דיגנה דוד||--- completely removed ---|
|9||דוד יבר ,וטינ דוד||דוד יבר ,וטינ דוד|
|10||םייח יבר||א"חרהמ ,א"חרהמה||םייח יבר ,א"חרהמ ,א"חרהמה|
|11||םייח יבר ,תשנבנב||תשנבנב||,ב"יבחה ברה ,יתשנבנב
בר ,ב"יבח ברה
|ברה ,ב"יבחה ברה ,יתשנבנב
םייח יבר ,ב"יבח בר ,ב"יבח
|12||,יסופכ ,סנ לעב ,סנה לעב
|,סנ לעב ,סנה לעב
|יסופאכ||םייח יבר ,יסופאכ|
|13||,ש"חרהמ ,יתבש םייח ,ש"חרהמה
|,ש"חרהמ ,יתבש םייח ,ש"חרהמה
|14||ריאי תוח||ריאי תוח|
|15||הדוהי יבר||הדוהי ,דיסח י"רה
|יבר ,ל"גס הדוהי ,דיסח י"רה
|16||הדוהי יבר ,שאיע י"רהמ||שאיאע||הדוהי יבר ,שאיאע ,שאיע י"רהמ|
|17||ףסוהי יבר||ףסוהי יבר|
|18||עשוהי יבר ,המלש ינגמ||עשוהי יבר ,המלש ינגמ|
|19||,ינארט ,ט"מירהמה ,ט"ירהמה
,ט"מירהמ ,ט"ירהמ ,ינרט ףסוי
ףסוי יבר ,ינרטמ ,ינארטמ
|י"רה ,ינארט י"רה
,ינארט י"ר ,ינרט
|י"רה ,ט"מירהמה ,ט"ירהמה
,ינארט ,ינרט י"רה ,ינארט
,ט"מירהמ ,ט"ירהמ ,ינרט ףסוי
,ףסוי יבר ,ינרטמ ,ינארטמ
ינרט י"ר ,ינארט י"ר
|20||םימואת ,ףסוי יבר ,םידגמ ירפ||--- completely removed ---|
|21||י"רהמ ,בריב בקעי ,ר"בירה
בקעי יבר ,בריב
|י"רהמ ,בריב בקעי ,ר"בירה
בקעי יבר ,בריב
|22||זיגאח ,ט"קלה לעב||זיגאח||י"ר ,זיגח י"רהמ
|י"ר ,זיגח י"רהמ ,ט"קלה לעב
|23||בקעי ,יולה בקעי ,ל"ירהמה
,ל"ירהמ ,יולה י"רהמ ,ל"גס
בקעי יבר ,ןילומ ,ל"גס י"רהמ
|בקעי ,יולה בקעי ,ל"ירהמה
,ל"ירהמ ,יולה י"רהמ ,ל"גס
בקעי יבר ,ןילומ ,ל"גס י"רהמ
|24||,ןדמע י"רה ,ץ"בעירה ,ץ"בעיה
ןידמע ,ןידמע י"רה
|ןדמע י"רה||ןידמע י"ר||,ןידמע י"רה ,ץ"בעירה ,ץ"בעיה
ןידמע י"ר ,ןידמע
|25||יבר ,יולה קחצי ,ץיוורוה
|ץיוורוה||ץיבורוה||יבר ,יולה קחצי ,ץיבורוה
|26||,םחנמ יבר ,למכורק ,קדצ חמצ
|למכורק||לאמכורק||,םחנמ יבר ,לאמכורק ,קדצ חמצ
|27||,אתוכז ,ן"לזמה ,ז"מרהמה
,תוכז ם"רהמ ,ז"מרהמ ,ותוכז
השמ ,אתוכז השמ ,תוכז השמ
השמ יבר ,ז"מרה לוק ,ותוכז
השמ ,אתוכז השמ
|,ז"מרהמ ,ן"לזמה ,ז"מרהמה
לוק ,תוכז השמ ,תוכז ם"רהמ
השמ יבר ,ז"מרה
|28||השמ יבר ,השמ ינפ ,תילגרמ||תוילגרמ||,השמ ינפ ,תילגרמ ,תוילגרמ
|29||הירזע יבר||הירזע יבר|
|30||בבל רשי ,ר"עה ח"א||רשי ,ר"עה ח"א
|ןוה ,ע"רו בהוא
|ר"ישעה ,רישע ןוה ,ע"רו בהוא|
|31||,יחרזמ ,ש"שרהמ ,ש"שרהמה
םולש רש ,יבערש ,םולש יבר
םולש רש ,יחרזמ
|יבערש ,םולש יבר|
|32||המלש יבר||אמלח המלש ,אמלעח||אמלח המלש ,המלש יבר ,אמלעח|
|33||--- new Rabbi ---||ם"רהמ ,טטשנזיא ,טאטשנזיא|
ריאמ יבר ,ש"א
We have shown our list of appellations (as it appeared in a draft version of this paper) to Professor Menachem Cohen, of the Department of Bible at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. In reference to our list and to the original WRR-Havlin list he wrote in [Co2]:
... I see no essential difference between the two lists for the purpose of using them for skip experiments in any text.The present list is even more similar to the WRR-Havlin list than the one Cohen based his judgement upon.
|our list on War and Peace||20,887||1,091||831||57|
|our list on Genesis||14,179,712||1,299,355||16,825,659||724,260|
|the WRR list on Genesis ([WRR2], rescaled)||45,300||500||57,000||400|
Comparing the first and the last two rows, we see that our list does as well on War and Peace as the WRR list does on Genesis. Tolstoy would have enjoyed knowing that. Some of the numbers in the second row are "middle of the way" - smallish but not very small. They are "smallish" because our list is highly correlated with the original WRR list, on which it was based. The fact that they are not very small needs to be explained by WRR, not by us. Why is it that an equally valid list of appellations (our list) does so much worse than their list on Genesis?
Comments: The computations of the significance levels for
our list was carried out using a program functionally equivalent to a
program WRR gave us,
els2.c. The significance levels for
the WRR list were taken from [WRR2], except for a
rescaling by a factor of 100 to account for the the fact that they used
only 106 permutations in their computations. Using our own
program, which is equivalent to a program WRR produced when their lists
were already present and hence it is more susceptible to bias, we get
somewhat better results for the WRR list on Genesis, but these results
are still weaker than our results on War and Peace. Unfortunately, we
were not able to obtain from WRR the exact programs they used to
compute the results in [WRR2].
The text we used was given to us by WRR. It consists of the first 78,064 letters (the length of Genesis) of a Hebrew translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace.
© Copyright (1997-9) Dror Bar-Natan, firstname.lastname@example.org and Brendan McKay, email@example.com.