A Refutation Refuted
B2. Their changes in the list of the sages:
B1. Assertions and Responses:
The statistical success in Genesis of a list of word
pairs compiled according to
pre-established rules, indicates that expressions
composed of letters at equal intervals
(ELSs) have been intentionally encrypted in this text.
On the other hand, by compiling a list of word pairs
without pre-established rules
it is possible to create the appearance of
"success" in any text. One can achieve this
simply by presenting one's "successes" and
suppressing one's failures. Therefore, there
would be absolutely no significance to the
"success" of a list composed in this way in
War and Peace.
Bar Natan and McKay (BNMK) are perfectly aware of
this, therefore they claim
that even within the pre-established rules there exists:
"enough choice to generate comparable
significance levels in War and Peace."
In other words, they claim that within the framework
of the rules which were
established before our first list was compiled, there was
enough latitude for us to
manipulate the second list of names to achieve an
artificial "success" for the experiment.
They claim that they did just this in War and Peace.
They attempted to base their claim on a list of names
which they first publicized
through the Internet on Sept. 20, 97 in their
article: "Equidistant Letter Sequences in
Tolstoys War and Peace."
It is clear that BNMK invested considerable effort in
the preparation of a list of
names which would succeed in War and Peace and fail in
Genesis. It was an effort which
involved searching for many sources, and a great amount
of computer time to make the
calculations. This list was prepared over the course of
many months, and what they
published was not the first version of the list. They try
to justify their selections by a set
of 24 assertions (section 2.1 in their article) and by
the considerations mentioned in
section 2.2 (ibid). They claim to have prepared their
"by purposefully constructing our own list of
appellations, staying within the WRR-stated
rules or breaking them by about as much as they
As we shall see, their claim to have carried out their
manipulations within the
rules established in our paper is laughable and without
foundation. Their entire exercise
consists of nothing other than flagrant and unjustifiable
breaking of the established rules
mentioned above. Therefore their attempt to illustrate
the latitude which supposedly
exists within the framework of the rules, is an utter
On the contrary, it is precisely the utter failure of
their efforts which can serve as
solid evidence against their claim that within the
established rules there remains "enough
choice to generate comparable significance levels in War
In section B1 we present a detailed 24 point rejoinder
to all of their assertions. We recommend that the reader
examine them. He will be surprised to discover just how
baseless their claims are.
To summarize, it can be seen from our responses that:
1. They did not succeed in finding a single
illustration of a name which was included
in the list compiled by Prof. Havlin through any
deviation from the rules.
Therefore there is no justification for their many
erasures of names from the list.
2. They did succeed in finding 5 names (including one
doubtful example) which
Prof. Havlin omitted from the list (the doubtful name is
indicated by two asterisks *-*):
*ב"יבח בר* ,ב"יבח ברה, ב"יבחה ברה (see
Assertion 6 and the response thereon),
Assertion 7 and the response thereon), and
יול בקעי (see
Assertion 14 and the response thereon).
Of these five names, two do not appear in Genesis at
all as ELSs, so that their
omission had no effect whatsoever on the results.
It turns out that the addition of the three remaining
names would have improved
The reader will recall that in the original
experiment, which was carried out upon
the second list prepared by Prof. Havlin, the statistics
P1 and P2 served as the measure of
probability (the experiment using permutations was
suggested at a later date). This is the
form in which the results were presented in the
In the original experiment the best result was P2,
whose value was:
P2 = 0.00000000201.
With the addition of the 3 names mentioned above we
receive the result:
P'2 = 0.0000000013,
in other words, the results improve by a factor of 1.5!
3. All the other names which they add to the list
consist of deviations from the rules:
- 8 are unpronounced abbreviations (see responses 3,
11, 13, 16, 21).
- 3 names deviate from the spelling rules (see responses
4, 8, 18).
- 4 names are variations which are not mentioned in the
Responsa database -- see
the section Professional Judgment-rule (f)(1)
in Havlin's report (see responses
11, 13, 17).
- 2 names deviate from rule (b) in Havlin's report (see
- 1 name deviated from rule (c) in Havlin's report (see
Please note that in our responses we bring examples to
demonstrate that Prof.
Havlin used these same rules already in the compilation
of the first list.
Far more astounding is the fact that they added
another 8 names which are
(1) ינש ד"באר
,ינש ד"בארה -- see response 1.
(2) ל"גס הדוהי
-- see response 10.
see response 12.
(4) יול קחצי, and יול י"רהמ -- see
(5) אמלח המלש,
אמלעח-- see response 24.
(Concerning (3) and (5), BNMK were not the original
fabricators of these appellations.
These appellations were invented by somebody
else, but without any basis.)
The conclusion which emerges from our 24 responses is
that Prof. Havlin clearly
chose his names a priori, without the slightest bias:
- In section 2 above we saw that the few names which
Prof. Havlin omitted, which
should have been included according to the rules, were
left out despite the fact that their
inclusion in the list would have improved the results.
See responses 5, 11 and 21 for more
examples of this kind.
- Several of the names which BNMK proposed including in
the list do not appear
as ELSs in Genesis at all: ל"גס
הדוהי (response 10), יתשנבנב
(response 7), ליגנומימ
(response 12), זיגח
י"רהמ (response 13), and יול קחצי (response 14).
inclusion or exclusion has no effect on the results of
If Prof. Havlin had any advance information concerning
which names would
appear as ELSs in Genesis (as BNMK insinuate), he should
have included these names in
order to preempt potential criticism to the greatest
In section B2 we will deal with the issue of which
personalities should have been
included in the second list, based on the length of their
entry in Margalioth's
Encyclopedia. There, too, we will see that BNMK's
alterations are incorrect.
B1. Assertions and Responses:
Concerning R. Avraham b. Yitzchak: BNMK claim to have
found the expression
(the second Raabad) mentioned in the book Shem
they added the following combinations (the full
ד"בארה is longer than
eight letters and could not be included in the
(i) ינש ד"באר
(ii) ינש ד"בארה
A. The expression ינשה
ד"בארה is not an appellation of R.
It is used neither in the written literature, nor in oral
discussions. In the
Responsa database, for example, this expression does not
appear at all.
BNMK encountered this construction in the
bibliographic work Shem HaGedolim
by the Chida (= Chaim Yosef David Azulai). Chida
discusses a number of personalities
who were all known by the acronym ד"באר.
He organizes them chronologically, and in
order to distinguish between them he refers to the
earliest one as "the first Raavad," to the
next one as "the second Raavad," etc. Obviously
these do not thereby become
appellations of the personalities involved, any more than
the numbers before biographical
entries in an encyclopedia become part of their names.
B. BNMK then compounded their bibliographical
error with mistakes in grammar. In
fact, both of their additions are based on grammatical
In their first case they seem to have extrapolated
that if the expansion ינשה
exists for ד"בארה
, the parallel expansion of ד"באר,
without the definite article, must be
This is simply a mistake in grammar. Even without the
article before the
proper name, one must still retain the article before the
ordinal number - ד"באר
ינשה (as in
-Henry the Eighth of England). Unsurprisingly, the
expression ינש ד"באר
not exist anywhere, not even in Shem HaGedolim.
In the second case, ינש
ד"בארה they invented a form which
simply does not allow. Needless to say, this
"appellation" is not to be found anywhere.
(This response was based on the Sept. 20th 97
draft of BNMK's article. The
second "appellation," ינש
ד"בארה , was subsequently removed from
their list. It does not
appear, for example, in the October 18th draft. Someone
seems to have done them the
kindness of pointing out this gross error, thus sparing
them further embarrassment).
Concerning R. Avraham HaMalach BNMK assert that the
angel") is an adjective, not a surname. It was
applied, so they say, to a number of rabbis,
and does not by itself indicate R. Avraham.
They also assert that it is inconsistent to use the
title HaMalach for R. Avraham,
and not to use the similar designation HaChassid
("the pious") for R. Yehudah HaChassid
(they refer to the fact that in our paper we did not use
the expression HaChassid on its
own, but only as part of the combination "R. Yehudah
Chassid" or "R. Yehudah
They erase, therefore, the term ךאלמה from the list.
A. It is obviously correct that the term Malach is
an adjective, not a surname.
B. Concerning their claim that this title was
applied to a number of different rabbis:
One must make a clear distinction between an
expression used by one rabbi to describe
another in a specific instance, versus an epithet which
is identified with a certain
personality. For example, as an incidental usage we would
expect to find the adjective
"angel" applied under two kinds of
(i) When a certain rabbi's given name happens to be
the same as one of the angels
(Rafael, Gavriel, etc.), thus inspiring the use of this
(ii) Or when an author is referring to his mentor (in
keeping with the Talmudic dictum
that one should learn from a teacher who resembles an
A survey of the Responsa database confirms this
expectation. There are about 5
uses of type (i), and one usage of type (ii). There are
no further uses of this term.
By contrast, concerning Rabbi Avraham the Encyclopedia
Hebraica refers to him
already in the heading of his entry as "R. Avraham
who was called Malach." He was
consistently referred to in this way, not merely in a
passing instance by a specific author.
His given name was not the same as one of the angels, nor
was it only his disciples who
referred to him in this way.
Margalioth explains in his Encyclopedia (under the
heading "R. Abraham
HaMalach") how he earned this title as a result of
"the great admiration for him on the
part of all the Tzaddikim of the generation, who
bestowed upon him the title
C. The epithet "HaChassid" is too
common. Many scholars who were renowned for
their piety merited to be known by this title. A survey
of the Responsa database reveals
approximately 1370 uses (by contrast with 6 for the term
"Malach"). That is why it is
impossible to use the title "HaChassid" by
itself. It can only be used in a context in which
the bearer is also identified. On the other hand, in the
literature of the Chassidic
movement one can easily identify any reference to
"HaMalach" as an allusion to R.
Avraham, the son of the Maggid of Mezeritch.
From all of the above it should be clear that there is
no basis whatsoever for
BNMK to erase the term ךאלמה
from the list.
Concerning R. Eliezer Ashkenazi, author of Maasei HaShem
they write that the
ישעמ (with the name of God written out in
full) is neither written nor
pronounced. Therefore they erase it from the list.
In its place they add the expressions 'ה ישעמ (using the common
the Tetragrammaton 'ה
) and 'ה ישעמ לעב ("the
author of Maasei H'"). They explain that
these appellations are "widely used."
A. The designation ה/ו/ה/י
ישעמ is not a variant. This is the original
title of R.
Ashkenazi's book. BNMK make a serious error when they
assert that the Tetragrammaton
is "never written or pronounced." On the
contrary, this name appears in the Torah an
enormous number of times, and of course it is
"pronounced" (that is to say, unlike some
of the acronyms discussed elsewhere, it is a proper name
which was meant to be
pronounced and has a specific vocalization). There are
simply Halachic limitations
concerning the circumstances under which it may be
B. It is precisely because of the sanctity of
this name that the variant 'ה
the abbreviation) was invented. The letter is
used here in place of the holy name. It is
simply a stand-in which is not pronounced. Therefore
Prof. Havlin was conforming to the
rule of not including unpronounced designations when he
omitted the forms 'ה ישעמ and
'ה ישעמ לעב, and once again
it is BNMK who have deviated from the rules by their
They claim that according to our paper, "grammatical
orthography" (k'tiv dikduki,
a standard Hebrew spelling convention in which no extra
letters are added) is to be used
only with regard to Hebrew words. Therefore it should not
be applied to the name
"Oppenheim," which derives from the German or
Yiddish. They quote from our paper
that, "Yiddish is written using Hebrew letters;
thus, there was no need to transliterate
Yiddish names." On this basis they erase the form םיהנפוא, and add in its
noting that in the Responsa database the first form is
found only once, whereas the latter
form appears more than 50 times, and that Margalioth
himself uses the form םייהנפוא.
A. There is a subtle misrepresentation of the
position stated in our paper. The original
quote reads, "For words in Hebrew, we always chose
what is called the grammatical
orthography . . . ." Note that we specifically say
"words in Hebrew," not "Hebrew words"
- that is, any word which has been rendered into Hebrew,
even if derived from a foreign
language, is to be written in grammatical orthography.
The only expressions which do not
fall under this rubric are words deriving from languages
which themselves use Hebrew
characters, such as Yiddish and Ladino, because these
languages do not need to be
rendered into Hebrew. This rule was followed consistently
in the construction of both
published lists regarding all foreign names (for example,
in the first list the name ץישביא
appears rather than ץישבייא).
B. The name "Oppenheim" is of German
derivation, not Yiddish, therefore it was
transliterated according to grammatical orthography
exactly as the rules stipulate. In this
form, and only in this form, does it appear in the index
to the Encyclopedia Hebraica, and
in the heading of the relevant entry. The Encyclopedia
Hebraica is consistent in its use of
grammatical orthography for its entries, whereas anyone
Encyclopedia will immediately notice that he is not
particular about adhering to
C. Concerning the forms which appear in the
Responsa database, it is well known
that the responsa literature commonly uses k'tiv malei
(an orthographical style in which
extra letters are added for clarity in pronunciation),
and even malei d'malei.
There are even responsa that use Yiddish, Ladino, and
other languages. For this
reason it comes as no surprise that the k'tiv malei
more frequently than the grammatical orthography form םיהנפוא, and it is
trying to establish the correct spelling according to
grammatical orthography based on this source.
From all of the above it should be clear that Prof.
Havlin acted consistently in
using the form םיהנפוא
and not םייהנפוא.
BNMK admit that certain "pronounced" acronyms
have attained the status of
words, for example "the Rambam" for Rabbi Moshe
ben Maimon. They claim, however,
that our paper contains inconsistencies regarding
"the use of acronyms that did not attain
the status of a word."
They assert that while we did use ר"עה ח"א , ט"קלה לעב,
ץ"בעירה, י"בארה etc., we
such acronyms as א"חרהמ,
ברה and others. They
claim that they "have done
the same," omitting ץ"בעירה
, and adding א"חרהמ
(they note that the last
acronym appears very often in the Responsa database, and
also in Shem HaGedolim,
therefore its omission from our list is "especially
A. We are happy to learn that BNMK finally admit
that there is a difference between
an acronym which is pronounced and an ordinary
abbreviation or set of initials which is
not pronounced. Yet they continue to confuse the issue of
being pronounced with the
issue of being common. When we say that an expression is
"pronounced" we mean that
the letters have a specific vocalization, regardless of
how common the expression is. The
have exactly the same status: they are both pronounced.
The only difference between them lies in their prevalence
is much more
B. Therefore there is no justification for
their claim that
ר"עה ח"א , ט"קלה לעב,
ץ"בעירה, י"בארה were included
in violation of the rules. All of these acronyms are
C. There is also no justification for their
claim that the expressions
ברה were omitted in
violation of the rules:
(i) א"ז ברה - This acronym is
not pronounced (and anyone familiar with the usage of
the abbreviation א"ז
in the Kabbalistic literature will understand immediately
acronym cannot be pronounced). In any event, a survey of
the Responsa database reveals
that most references to א"ז
ברה refer not to
the author of םהרבא ערז,
R. Avraham Yizhaki,
but to the author of תמא
ערז, who is not one of the personalities on the
(ii) ם"ירהמ -
This is acronym is indeed pronounced, but it does not
refer to any
personality on the list. For example, in the Responsa
database this acronym is used to
refer to the author of Sfat Hayam, the Maharim of Brisk,
- This is also pronounced. But Prof. Havlin has already
explained (see his
report, in the chapter "Professional Judgment,"
sec. B) why he decided not to use this
acronym. It is used to refer to many different
personalities, and not specifically to R.
Chaim Abulafia. For similar considerations Prof. Havlin
omitted the acronym ש"בירה
the Baal Shem Tov from the first list. Had he included it
it would have dramatically
improved the results:
You will recall that in the original experiment which
was carried out for the first
list the statistics P1 and P2 served as the measure of
probability. This is how the results
were reported in both the "White Preprint" and
the "Blue Preprint."
The best result was originally P1 = 0.000000001334.
If we were to add ש"בירה
we would receive P'1 = 0.000000000412.
In other words, the results would have been better by a
factor of 3.24!
D. On the basis of their faulty assertions,
BNMK claim to be doing "the same" as we
did, when in fact they are doing something different
altogether: They erased a legitimate
) with no explanation at all, while adding in its place
which do not deserve to be included.
They note that Prof. Havlin in his report acknowledged
having omitted the
appellation ב"יבח ברה
(for personality #11 on the list). They add it in. They
the definite article and added the form ב"יבח בר, as well.
Finally, they added the form ב"יבחה
ברה to the list.
A. This case merely serves to demonstrate that
Prof. Havlin indeed constructed the
lists in an a priori manner. Had he desired to
improve the results he would have been sure
to include these appellations in the list:
Taking P1 and P2 as the measure of probability (see
Response 5), the best result
without these expressions was P2 = 0.00000000201.
If we add in these expressions we receive P'2 =
In other words, the results improve by a factor a 2.8!
B. Concerning the form ב"יבח
בר, it is doubtful whether this is a valid form:
appears a single time in the Responsa database in the
Responsa Yosef Ometz, 104, after
he had been mentioned a number of times as ב"יבח ברה . The
omission of the definite
article in this one instance may simply have been a slip
of the pen.
BNMK assert that both תשנבנב
and יתשנבנב are
used to refer to R. Haim
Benbenest, and they note parenthetically that the latter
form is 3 times more common in
the Responsa database. Since Prof. Havlin
"chose" the term
תשנבנב, they permit
themselves to "choose" יתשנבנב,
and to erase
תשנבנב from the
A. The original form of the family name of R. Haim
Benbenest is unquestionably
תשנבנב. See the
Encyclopedia Hebraica at his entry, and at the entry for
Benbenest. This is how both he and his brother R.
Yehoshua and others in the family
signed their names.
B. It is true that the variant יתשנבנב exists, and that
Prof. Havlin omitted it on the
basis of his judgment. But this case only serves to
illustrate that Prof. Havlin acted in
good faith, and that his considerations were purely
professional, because the appellation
יתשנבנב does not
appear as an ELS in Genesis at all, and would not have
outcome. Had Prof. Havlin actually operated as they have
suggested - intentionally
selecting the most successful names - then he should have
used both forms in this case
and spared himself unnecessary criticism.
C. Therefore, their assertion that they are
proceeding in the same manner as Prof.
Havlin is ridiculous. They omit the original name and
include only the variant, and they
admit to doing so not on the basis of professional
considerations but only to manipulate
D. Incidentally, the "information"
which they supply the reader parenthetically is
does not appear 3 times more frequently in the database.
The real ratio
Regarding the name יסופכ,
BNMK assert that we should have used the form
יסופאכ, as well,
since it also appears in the Responsa database. They
paraphrase our paper
as saying that "in such cases" we take both
forms, with and without the א
as a mater
lectionis, whereas in this instance we used only יסופכ. Therefore they say,
ourselves to make the opposite mistake." They remove
יסופכ, and add יסופאכ.
A. In our paper we state that "the letter א is often used as a mater
lectionis," and that
in such cases we take both forms. In other words, where
it is grammatically appropriate to
use the mater lectionis we take both forms. In the word יסופכ the accent is on the פ, not on
the כ, therefore it is
grammatically incorrect to use the mater lectionis. יסופכ is the correct
form, and it was with this form that R. Capusi, in fact,
signed his name, as is attested to,
for example, by Chida in Shem HaGedolim (a source which
BNMK are found of citing).
The fact that in the Responsa database the form יסופאכ also appears says
The responsa literature is not always particular about
the subtleties of grammar.
It is interesting to note that in Assertion 13 BNMK
themselves paraphrase our
statement more accurately, "where א is used as a "mater
lectionis . . . ." It is strange that
here they paraphrase us in a way which is misleading.
B. Therefore BNMK's statement that they allow
themselves to "make the opposite
mistake" is itself predicated upon an error: No
mistake at all was involved in the omission
of יסופאכ, whereas
they "err" purposefully in deleting יסופכ from the list.
Concerning the appellations סנ
לעב and סנה לעב
they claim that these titles are
usually associated with R. Meir Baal HaNes, and not with
R. Haim Capusi. Most of the
references to סנה לעב
in the Responsa database refer to R. Meir, and they did
not find the
form סנ לעב
associated with R. Haim Capusi at all, despite the fact
that, according to
them, this personality is mentioned frequently in the
Since Prof. Havlin himself rejected certain
appellations because they were more
closely associated with another personality, they do the
same by erasing סנ לעב
and סנה לעב .
A. As Prof. Havlin mentions in his report, the
responsa literature is not the most
appropriate source to look for appellations of R. Haim
Capusi, since his main Torah
output was not in the realm of Halacha. Contrary to the
assertion of BNMK, his name
does not appear frequently in the Responsa database
(there are only 22 references, which
is not a lot. For comparison, his contemporary and
academic adversary, the Radbaz is
referred to by this one appellation more than 8500
B. It is true that the combination "R.
Meir Baal HaNes" is more common than "R.
Haim Capusi Baal Hanes," but R. Haim Capusi is also
known by the appellation "Baal
HaNes" alone, whereas R. Meir is generally not. See
the Encyclopedia Judaica at his
entry, where it mentions that R. Haim Capusi's synagogue
is referred to as "the
Synagogue of Baal Hanes." In this same source you
can find the appellation סנ
The 15th personality on the list is R. Yehuda Chassid
Segal. BNMK assert that
Prof. Havlin neglected to include the appellation ל"גס הדוהי, which
they believe to be this
personality's given name plus his family name. They claim
that in the "Blue Preprint" we
"always take appellations of this form when it is
Therefore they add ל"גס
הדוהי to the list. They also refer the reader
A. ל"גס is
not this Rabbi's last name. BNMK brought no source to
In Margalioth's Encyclopedia one finds the combination ל"גס דיסח הדוהי יבר,
but not ל"גס
B. If one examines the "Blue
Preprint" he will discover that, contrary to the
of BNMK, we did not "always take appellations of
this form." We took them where there
was a justification; for example, in the case of the
Maharil (23 on the list). There we use
the combinations ל"גס
בקעי and ל"גס
י"רהמ because they are well documented
both in the
Responsa and elsewhere.
C. In any event, the appellation ל"גס הדוהי does not
appear as an ELS in Genesis, and
its omission would not have affected the results.
(19 on the list), BNMK added the following appellations:
ינארט י"רה, ינרט
י"ר, ינארט י"ר, ינרט י"רה
. Their rationalization for
all these additions: "This puts the Maharit in a
similar status with the Yaabez."
A. The abbreviations ינרט
י"ר and ינארט
י"ר are not pronounced. That is why they
were not included in the list, just as the abbreviations ןידמע י"ר and ןדמע י"ר for the
Yaabez were not included (and just as וראק י"ר, for
example, was excluded from the first
list as an appellation for personality 19).
B. BNMK make a fundamental error here and in
Assertion 16. Out of linguistic and
bibliographical ignorance they assume that the
appellation ינרט י"רה
is simply the
abbreviation ינרט י"ר
with the addition of the definite article, when in fact,
commonly known, ינרט
י"ר is short for ינרט
ףסוי יבר, whereas ינרט
י"רה stands for ינרט ףסוי יבר ברה.
(See, for instance, the Even Shushan Dictionary in the
section on acronyms, where
he explains that ף"יר
(23 on the first list) stands for יספלא
קחצי יבר, whereas ף"ירה
the definite article, stands for יספלא
קחצי יבר ברה ).
C . The variants ינארט
י"רה and ינרט
י"רה do not appear in the Responsa
Regarding ןידמע י"רה
, it does appear in the Responsa database. Below, in
response 15, we
will explain the use of the form ןדמע
in addition to ןידמע,
and that the Yaabez was also a
prolific author outside of the field of Halachic
Responsa, so the sources for his
appellations are not restricted to the responsa
However, if Prof. Havlin had included these two
appellations in the list the results would
have improved from P2= 0.00000000201
to P'2= 0.00000000186.
D. From all of the above it should be clear
that there is no justification for BNMK's
BNMK report that they have added the name ליגנומימ for R. Yaakov
Beirav (21 on
the list). They claim that this is "his last name by
his own testimony." Their source is the
book Responsa of R. Yaakov Beirav, and an article by
A. We present here the relevant passage from the
responsum of R. Yaakov Beirav
(first printing, Venice 1665, responsum 1): "Says
the author, Yaakov who is called Bei
Rav, [of] the exiles in the exile of Castile, from the
town of Maqueda in the kingdom of
Toledo, of (or "to") the family of ליגנומימ ינב."
This is the only source in which the term ליגנומימ is mentioned,
and its meaning is
unclear: Is this a place name, or perhaps the name of the
Note that the passage was copied somewhat defectively,
and that at least one word
is missing: "of the exiles, etc." It is
not entirely clear what is meant: One could understand
that R. Yaakov Bei Rav was among the exiles who were
exiled from the town of
Maqueda to the family of ליגנומימ
And even if one were to insist that this is some sort
of surname, the name should
be written ליגנומימ
ינב, and not just ליגנומימ.
B. But the story does not end here. Gruenhut
(the correct spelling), on whose article
BNMK base themselves, also relies on this sole reference,
but his version of the text
Furthermore, see Or HaChaim, by R. Chaim Michal (an
bibliographic text), no. 1069, p. 496, who has the
C. The assumption that this appellation is R.
Yaakov's surname is based on pure
guesswork, not on proof. On the other hand, evidence does
exist that the appellation בר
with which R. Yaakov consistently signed his name (and
which appears dozens of times
as his signatures in his responsa as well as on other
documents), was his family name -for
his descendants were also called by this name (for
example, among his descendants
was another R. Yaakov Beirav, who is also mentioned in
the Encyclopedia Hebraica and
D. Let the reader be informed - the name ליגנומימ does not appear
at all as an ELS in
Genesis, and its inclusion would not have affected the
BNMK claim that the name of 22) זיגאח
בקעי לארשי 'ר on the list) can also be
without the א as a mater
lectionis: זיגח. They
mention that this is how he appears
in the Encyclopedia Hebraica, whereas Prof. Havlin used
only the form זיגאח,
of the relevant rule in our paper. They claim that the
appellations זיגח י"ר and זיגח י"רהמ
(both of which they say appear in the Responsa) were
therefore improperly omitted from
They permit themselves to "make the opposite
mistake," by adding זיגח
and deleting זיגאח.
A. It is correct that if no other information were
available, both forms, זיגח
should have been used. However, as Prof. Havlin explained
in his report, from R. Moshe
Hagiz's words in his preface to his father's work
Halachot Ketanot, it seems clear that
they specifically wrote their name זיגאח. (See the end of the
same work, where the author,
R. Yaakov Chagiz, signs this way, and the son also writes
his father's name there with
Recall that Prof. Havlin is himself an expert of the
first rank - whenever felt he
had a solid proof, he preferred that to an article by a
B. The appellation זיגח
י"ר is not
pronounced. It is merely an abbreviation (see
Response 11). Furthermore, despite BNMK's claim to the
contrary it does not appear in
C. Prof. Havlin had no knowledge about our
measuring method, therefore he
prepared the list of appellations without regard for
their length. Yet even according to
BNMK's allegations, Prof. Havlin would have had no
interest in omitting the name זיגח.
Because it consists of only four letters, it would not in
any event have been included in
the experiment, which required expressions of 5-8
letters. The appellation זיגח
well as זיגח י"רה
, if you will) does not appear as an ELS in Genesis at
On the other hand, regarding R. Yosef of Trani (19 on
the list) Prof. Havlin
included the form ינרטמ
(without the mater lectionis), despite the fact that this
results to be poor by a factor of 1.5! (Obviously he had
no way of knowing this).
In other words, Prof. Havlin clearly did not have had
prior knowledge about the
"success" or "failure" of any
particular expression - we see that in this single issue
whether or not to use the mater lectionis, on one
occasion he included the form which
omits the mater lectionis despite the fact that its
inclusion had a deleterious affect on the
results (in the case of ינרטמ),
and he "inexplicably" did not include this form
occasion when including it would have spared him
unnecessary criticism without
affecting the results at all (in the case of זיגח)!
D. In light of the above, BNMK's statement that
they "allow [themselves] to make
the opposite mistake" by consciously erasing a
correct name seems rather bizarre. Their
addition of the name זיגח
י"ר, as we have seen, also turns out to be
BNMK discovered that regarding the Shach (31 on the first
list) Prof. Havlin
included both the form ןהכ
יתבש and ןהכה
Therefore they did "the same thing:"
Regarding the Maharil (23 on the second list)
they added יול בקעי
on top of יולה בקעי,
and יול י"רהמ
in addition to יולה
regarding R. Yitchak Horowitz (25 on the list), they
added יול קחצי in
addition to יולה קחצי
A. BNMK continue here their practice of inventing
appellations. R. Shabbetai
Cohen, known by his acronym as the Shach, is in fact
referred to as both ןהכ
ןהכה יתבש .
He is referred to as ןהכה
יתבש in the heading of his entry in both
the Encyclopedia Hebraica. He is referred to as ןהכ יתבש in the index to
Hebraica, and in several citations there (see the entry
for R. David Halevi, p. 86; see the
entry "Vilna," p. 165; and elsewhere). The same
is true of Margalioth (see the caption
under the Shach's picture, facing p. 1089; see the entry
for R. Yehoshua Heshil of
Cracow, p. 705; and elsewhere).
Also in the Responsa database he is referred to as ןהכ יתבש 'ר.
Nevertheless, it is totally unjustifiable to
extrapolate from his case that for every
Cohen or Levi both forms should be used. On the first
list, for example, R. David HaLevi
(the Taz) was always referred to as יולה דוד, not יול דוד. Therefore each
case must be
examined separately to determine which forms should be
B. The appellation יול
קחצי is never used to refer to R. Yitzchak
should therefore be omitted.
C. Regarding the Maharil, we do sometimes find
him referred to as יול
בקעי (the ratio
of occurrences of יול בקעי
versus יולה בקעי
in the Responsa database is 1:5). In this
instance perhaps it should have been included.
The acronym יול
י"רהמ, however, is never used for the
Maharil, and should
therefore be omitted.
A. BNMK reject appellations based around the
spelling ןדמע for the
Yaabez (24 on
the list). They justify themselves by the fact that Prof.
Havlin did not include the
appellation ןלומ in
the list alongside the spelling ןילומ
for the Maharil (23 on the list),
despite the fact that this form is more frequently used
in the Responsa than ןדמע.
Furthermore they claim that the Yaabez himself was
not pleased with the fact that
the name "Emden" had been associated with him
by any spelling, nevertheless they
retained the spelling ןידמע.
A. The ratio of appellations which incorporate the
spelling ןדמע in the
database, versus those which incorporate the form ןידמע is the same (1:6) as
the ratio of
appellations incorporating ןלומ
versus those incorporating ןילומ.
However, the Yaabez was a prolific author
outside of the field of Halachic
responsa, as well. Therefore sources for his appellations
are not restricted to the responsa
literature. This is how the spelling ןדמע came to be used, for
example, in the heading of
his entry in the Encyclopedia Hebraica. In Margalioth the
heading does indeed use the
spelling ןידמע, but
the form ןדמע appears
elsewhere in this same source.
B. A man may be referred to by a name he has
chosen for himself, or by one which
others have conferred upon him, even if it is not to his
liking. Therefore this section of
their argument (which does not appear in the original
draft of BNMK's article) is entirely
BNMK claim that we were inconsistent in our use of the
definite article ה . They
cite as an example the fact that in our paper the forms ןדמע י"רה , and ןידמע י"רה
but not the forms ןדמע
י"ר and ןידמע
י"ר. They claim to have "fixed"
this mistake, and to
have "allowed [themselves] to make a parallel
mistake," by omitting the appellation
for R. Shalom Sharabi (31 on the list).
A. As we have already discussed at length in our
response to Assertion 11, BNMK
make two errors. First, they assume that ןדמע י"רה is
simply the expression ןדמע
the addition of the definite article. This is incorrect
(see our response there).
They err a second time in assuming that the expression
ןדמע י"ר (or ןידמע י"ר) is
pronounced. This is also a mistake; these are nothing
more than abbreviations. (See the
Response to 11 where we note that Prof. Havlin followed
the same rules in making the
B. On the basis of these two errors they
"allow themselves" to make a third error: the
omission of a correct appellation from the list. Clearly
their arguments deserve to be
They claim that the family name of R. Yitzchak Horowitz
(25 on the list) is
written both in the Encyclopedia Hebraica and in
. Therefore they
substitute this spelling for the spelling ץיוורוה .
A. Here BNMK simply provide the reader with
misinformation, on the basis of
which they wrongly alter the list once more.
In the Encyclopedia Hebraica there is a special entry
for the famous Horowitz
family (v. 13, pp. 939-940). There the encyclopedia sets
down the main spellings of the
family name as any of the three: ץיוורוה
or ץיורוה ,
and it does not indicate a
preference among them. All of these options are used by
Margalioth, as well. For
example, in the index he uses the form ץיוורוה for
all members of the family, including R.
B. In cases like these the responsa database
can be of service:
R. Yitchak Horowitz is not mentioned in this source
even once with the spelling
whereas the form ץיוורוה
does appear. In all, the Horowitz family name appears
there some 200 times as ץיוורוה
, and only in a few isolated instances as ץיבורוה or ץיורוה .
Thus the preference seems to be clear.
C. Once again we see that their claims
unfounded, and their attempts to change the
list are invalid.
BNMK entitled this assertion: "The Krochmal
A. They claim to have suspected an irregularity
the surname of R.
Menachem Mendel Krochmal (26 on the list). This prompted
them to begin searching
through the literature.
B. They searched through the Responsa database
and did not find the name
"Krochmal" associated with R. Menachem Mendel,
despite the many citations of this
C. They note that although the name "למכורק" serves as the
heading for his entry in
Margalioth's Encyclopedia, they could find no explanation
for the source of this name.
D. In the Encyclopedia Hebraica they found no
entry for R. Menachem Mendel,
although he is mentioned twice in the index. Examination
of the text at the citations
provided no additional information.
E. In the works by this authority they found
his name written לדנעמ
םחנמ and לידנעמ
םחנמ, but no למכורק.
F. In a eulogy over him they found that only
his given names, and the name of his
works were mentioned.
"So where," they ask, does the name למכורק come from?"
G. They found one bibliographical reference
work which mentions the name
association with one of his books, while in the biography
R. David Oppenheim they found the spelling לאמכארק. They also
the spellings לאמכורק
although they do not recall where, because in their
heroic effort to
thumb through the pages of so many books they no longer
had the strength to jot down
H. They claim that the form למכורק did not exist in
the 19th century. Their next step
was to investigate how the name was written in the first
half of the 17th century.
I. At this point they received advice from two
"wise men." The first wise man
referred them to the book ןירהעמ
תנידמב םידוהיה תונקת
(a book about Jewish enactments in the State of
which was where R. Krochmal served as chief Rabbi. The
second wise man
suggested that they look in the footnotes. One note (on
page 111) the
wise man examined himself. This led him to an article by
Marx, which contains a letter
written by a relative of R. M. M. Krochmal, written only
a few dozen years after his
passing. There the name is found spelled לאמחארק!
J. They relate that the drama continued the
following day on a different continent.
There a note on page 102 of the same text was examined,
which led to two articles about
R. M. M. Krochmal: One was an article by Shmuel Aba
Haradsky (sic). The other was an
article by David Kauffman. They report that both of these
articles use the spelling
לאמכארק, and that
the second article cites a source for this name. He
traces it to a dayan
(Rabbinical judge) of an earlier period, R. Yonah
Krachmals ( שלאמכארק)
of Cracow, the
birthplace of R. Menachem Mendel. A copy of R. Yonah's
tombstone can be found in the
book Ir HaTzedek, by Yechiel Matityahu Zonz (sic), page
180. The spelling in this source
K. They conclude that the original spelling of
the name "Krochmal" was לאמכארק,
therefore they erased the name למכורק
from the list and replaced it with לאמכארק (which,
if it were Hebrew, would be transliterated
L. By doing so they claim to have replaced a
"new" spelling with an "old" one,
whereas in the case of Horowitz they chose to replace an
"old" spelling with a "new" one.
An inconsistency? -- Why not? They have a right to be
inconsistent to exactly the same
degree as Prof. Havlin was -- so they claim.
[In their recent version, they added at the end of this
assertion, that Krochmal is a
Yiddish name. Therefore it should be written לאמכארק.]
Surely the reader must be awe-stricken by this dramatic
tale of how BNMK
succeeded through their linguistic sleuthing in
uncovering an irregularity (smelling of
conspiracy) in the selection of the name למכורק.
The reader will be twice as awe-stricken to discover
that not only is there no basis
to their assertions, but that in the course of their
narrative they expose the enormity of
their ignorance. To make this clear we will respond point
by point. We will entitle our
A. BNMK never explain why they suspected that
something was amiss regarding the
name למכורק in the
first place. As we will see, this is precisely the
spelling which appears
in the encyclopedias.
B. They claim that they were unable to find the
mentioned in the
Responsa database. It is a pity they were unaware of the
trivial fact that major Rabbinical
authorities are rarely referred to by their family names
in the responsa literature. For
example, the Maharasha (34 on the first list) is
mentioned about 4000 times by this
acronym, but only seven times by his family name. The
Bach (16 on the first list) is also
mentioned thousands of times, but only 15 times by his
Therefore it comes as no surprise that the name
"Krochmal" does not appear,
despite the fact that his major work, Tzemach Tzedek, is
mentioned hundreds of times.
C. They admit that the name למכורק serves as the
heading for his entry in
Margalioth's Encyclopedia, but they could find no
explanation for the source of this
name. How is this fact relevant to the investigation at
hand? Was Prof. Havlin supposed
to have researched the derivations of the names? The fact
is that the name which appears
D. But it is not only Margalioth who uses this
spelling: They mention that R.
Menachem Mendel is cited twice in the index of the
Encyclopedia Hebraica, but that an
examination of the text at these two citations led to
"no further clues." -- Let the reader
not be misled: In the index itself, and in the two
entries cited in the index the only
spelling which appears is למכורק.
E-F. In his responsa Tzemach Tzedek R. Menachem
Mendel Krochmal signs his given
name a handful of times. The vast majority of responsa
are without any signature at all. In
the eulogy over him he is again mentioned only by his
given name and by the name of his
works. This was common practice regarding a great many
major Rabbinical personalities
throughout the ages, for example, R. Heschel of Cracow.
It was unnecessary to add any
other identifying appellation. This does not indicate the
slightest irregularity, as is well
known to anyone versed in the literature.
G-H. BNMK found their way to a Yiddish
transliteration of the name Krochmal, and it
did not even occur to them that this was, in fact,
nothing more than a transliteration.
I. We were especially touched by the part about
the two "wise men."
The first wise man, you will recall, referred them to the
book Jewish Enactments
of the Province of Moravia. BNMK forgot to mention the
small fact that the spelling
למכורק occurs in
this source exactly 20 times, and no other spelling
appears at all!
-- Or perhaps the author of this work was also part of
the conspiracy, together with the
Encyclopedia Hebraica, Margalioth's Encyclopedia, and
The second wise man found a footnote which led them to an
article by Marx,
containing an autobiography of a relative of R. Krochmal.
There he found only one
mention, which used the spelling לאמחארק.
An Israeli reader will be reminded of a joke which was
popular in Israel forty
years ago: Why do the police make their rounds in pairs?
-- Because one of them knows
how to read and the other how to write.
If BNMK already decided to use two wise men -- one who
knew about this source
and another who knew to look in the footnotes -- they
should have hired a third wise man
who knew how to evaluate what they have read. The author
himself, Marx, notes that the
author of the biography was a simple person, whose
writing is poor. This is clearly an
understatement, as any Hebrew reader would attest to. In
the very sentence where the gem
לאמחארק appears, it
is also mentioned that he was the "author of the
responsa of (sic!)
[the book] Tzemach Tzaddik (sic!)." (the book is the
responsa, and its name should be
If these grammatical and spelling mistakes are not
enough, a few lines earlier he
writes: "He died in Poland before the bad years and
the destructions (spelled
rather than תונברוח)
came, which occurred in Poland (spelled this time אינולופ rather than
Obviously from such a flawed document one can draw no
conclusions at all.
J. They then found their way to an article by
Shmuel Aba Haradsky (sic). Again they
saw the spelling לאמכארק,
and they still did not suspect that this was simply the
transliteration, in which the letter א was substituted for a ו (an "oh" sound),
and an ע for a
segol (an "eh" sound).
The same misunderstanding caused them to transliterate
the author's name as
"Haradsky," rather than correctly as
"Horodezsky" (see for example the Encyclopedia
Judaica). This same article was published 10 years later
in Warsaw. This time the
surname of R. Menachem Mendel is written לאמכורק, and the author's
name appears on
the opening page in German: Horodetzky.
In any event, they might at least have noticed that in
the very sources they
examined, including the article by Marx, wherever the
name appears in Latin letters it is
always spelled "Krochmal" and not
They also cite a second article, that of Kauffman.
What they forget to mention is
that in Kaufman's opinion the name Krochmal derives from
On the other hand, they do follow him to the grave of
R. Menachem Mendel's
early relative to trace the origin of the name.
Unfortunately, from the date on the tombstone it seems
that this "early relative"
died 8 years after R. Menachem Mendel Krochmal
died (by the way, the name is "Zunz,"
not "Zonz." The name Zunz is well known in the
field of Jewish bibliography).
K-L. They claim to have replaced a
"new" spelling with an "old" one,
when in fact what
they have done is to replace the Hebrew spelling with the
Yiddish. Therefore there is no
justification for this substitution, and of course, they
have failed to show any inconsistency
in the application of Prof. Havlin's rules. (By the way,
in the case of
Horowitz, also, they were not substituting a
"newer" spelling for an "older" one,
explained in response 17, and as can be learned from the
letter of Prof. Menahem Cohen,
who himself writes ץיוורוה
, when using this name, even in the 20th century).
To sum up: There was no place for suspicion in the
first place. The name
"Krochmal" was written in our paper according
to the correct Hebrew spelling, whereas
BNMK tried (through their ignorance) to replace it with a
[In a later version, published about two months after the
first version, and after I
wrote this response and related it to many people, they
added to their assertion that
Krochmal is actually a Yiddish name.
It is abundantly clear that this new assertion is
ad-hoc and is intended to justify their
big mistake retroactively. Please note section
J above where the source which they
themselves bring indicates that the name Krochmal is of
German origin. Also from the
same section above it is clear that they do not
distinguish between Hebrew and Yiddish
transliterations (they write יקצעדאראה
BNMK claim that the family name of R. Moshe Zacut (their
personality 27 on the list) should be written תוכז, rather than אתוכז or ותוכז. They base
their argument on the fact that this is how he signs his
name in his book Kol HaRemez,
and in addition they recommend that we see Aba
Applebaum's biography of him,
Margalioth's Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Hebraica, and
Shem HaGedolim by the
Therefore they erase the appellations אתוכז השמ, ותוכז,
from the list.
A. It is intriguing that when BNMK write the name
of this personality in Latin letters
they write "Zacut," despite that the fact that
both the Encyclopedia Hebraica and the
Encyclopedia Judaica use the form "Zacuto." In
the article by Marx which they cited in
Assertion 18 the form "Sacuto" is used.
B. Furthermore, following BNMK's advice, we
decided to see Aba Applebaum's
biography. To our astonishment we discovered that already
on the title page the subject is
referred to as "Zacuta" in Polish and
"Zakuto" in German. In the second chapter (pp.
we learn that this personality was known as אתוכז השמ 'ר, and that
he was a scion of the
(Zacuta)" family. BNMK tell us we can rely on this
C. The Chida himself uses the form ותוכז elsewhere in his
writings, for example in
Birkei Yosef (Orach Chaim 581). The form אתוכז may also appear in
but we did not survey the entire text. According to BNMK
we can trust the Chida, as well.
D. BNMK neglected to mention that the forms אתוכז and
mentioned in the Responsa database.
E. There are signatures of the form ותוכז in the Letters of R.
and the correspondence to him often addresses him by this
name. In the title page of Kol
HaRemez - Sefer HaTikunim (with a commentary by the
Kabbalist R. Yaakov Kopil) we
find the name אתוכז השמ
'ר. This is also the form used in the
approbations to the books.
These are just a few examples.
F. From all of the above it should be clear
that there is no justification for the
BNMK write that great rabbis are often called after their
books. Therefore they
add the appellation רישע
ןוה for R. Ricchi (30 on the list).
They note that this appellation
appears frequently in the Responsa database, while the
name בבל רשי does
not appear at
all, even in the form which they believe to be the
correct one, בבל רשוי.
A. We recommend that the reader examine sec. C of
the chapter "Professional
Judgment" in Prof. Havlin's report. There the
concept that "often great Rabbis are called
after their books" is explained thoroughly.
B. In that same report it is explained that the
Responsa database cannot give an
accurate picture regarding a Kabbalist like R. Immanuel
Hai Ricchi, whose main
productive output was not in the realm of Halachic
responsa (he was in the main a
Kabbalist, who wrote deep Kabbalistic works, including
Kabbalistic commentaries to the
Scriptures). His most important works, by which his
reputation was established, were
Mishnat Chassidim, and an abridged edition which was
widely disseminated: בבל
Encyclopedia Hebraica, Margalioth's Encyclopedia, and
Encyclopedia Judaica. Since
these are Kabbalistic works there is no reason to expect
them to be mentioned in the
On the other hand, it is perfectly natural that his
book רישע ןוה
, in which he
explains the wording of the Mishna, should appear there,
and indeed it does. However,
contrary to BNMK's assertion, it does not appear
"often." It is mentioned only 28 times,
of which 16 references are made by the same author.
C. The appellation רישע
ןוה לעב appears exactly twice in the
Responsa database. Both
references are in the responsa Yehuda Yaale, by R.
Yehuda Assad. It is very instructive
to discover that R. Yehuda Assad in his discussion of R.
Ricchi's words, expresses
himself thus: "The saintly genius in the book רישע ןוה on
the Mishna, he is
םידיסח תנשמ 'ס
לעב (the author of Mishnat Chassidim . .
." (Part I, Orach Chaim, 1). Elsewhere, R.
Yehuda Assad writes: "םידיסח
תנשמ לעב (the author of Mishnat Chassidim),
o.b.m., in his
book רישע ןוה
" (Part I, Yoreh Deah 193). Only after he has
introduced him in this way
does R. Yehuda Assad allow himself to refer to him as the
רישע ןוה לעב
(the author of Hon
Ashir) as a short form (Part I, Yoreh Deah, 196).
To cite a similar example: R. Chaim ben Atar (9 on the
first list) is generally
known by the name of his commentary Or HaChaim. When he
is mentioned in
connection with one of his other works he is referred to
as follows: "The great author of
Or HaChaim in his book Pri Toar . . ." (responsa
Yeshuot Malko, Yoreh Deah 16).
Another author writes: "The holy genius, the author
of Or HaChaim, o.b.m., in his book
Rishon Letzion . . . ." (responsa Tzitz Eliezer,
Part 15, 35). See Prof. Havlin's report for
other examples, in section (c).
In these examples one can readily see which book was
considered the author's
principle work after which he came to be known. When he
is referred to by the name of
another of his works, it is nothing more than a
shorthand way of referring to the content
of the book itself ("the author of Such-and-Such
says . . ." or "HaRav Such-and-Such says
. ." rather than saying "it is written in the
book Such-and-Such . . ." (In this latter usage
the expression רישע ןוה
ברה appears in the Responsa database 5
times, all of which
involve discussions of the content of this book).
D. By contrast, the expression םידיסח תנשמ לעב
appears 9 times in the Responsa
E. Contrary to the claim of BNMK, the
appellation ל"ז בבל
רשי ברה does appear in
the Responsa database (in the responsa Rav Pealim,
Part III - Sod Yesharim 13).
Nevertheless, this was not Prof. Havlin's source, see
paragraph B above.
F. Regarding their comment that the
"correct form" is בבל
רשוי, R. Ricchi borrowed
the name בבל רשי
from a verse in Psalm 119, as he himself notes in his
"correct form," as it appears in the verse, is בבל רשי, and this is how
it appears in our
G. From the above it should be obvious that
their addition was thoroughly
They write that "the story of the appellation ר"עה ח"א (of
Immanuel Hai Ricchi) . .
. is particular telling."
Here is their story:
A. They were unsuccessful in finding any
reference to this appellation, and "nobody
we asked could tell us what it meant."
B . When they asked Doron Witztum about
it, he explained that R. Ricchi used this
designation in his signature in some of his books, and
that it is an acronym
for יקיר לאונמע
ריעצה ,יח ינא (which they render -
"I'm alive, the young Immanuel
C. They consider the inclusion of the acronym ר"עה ח"א to be
because: "It is a signature; not an appellation.
Nobody should refer to Rabbi Ricchi by
this name other than himself."
D. They emphasize a second time that they found
no mention of this acronym in the
sources, and that they were unable to find anyone who
could decipher it!
"In particular," they add, "it is not
E. But this is not the end of the drama. They
discovered a version of R. Ricchi's
signature with a different permutation of this acronym: ר"חעהא, which expands
יקיר יח לאונמע
ריעצה ינא (which they render - "me
the young, Immanuel Hai Ricchi"). They
claim that this acronym makes much more sense in Hebrew
than the former, and is even
mentioned in the dictionary of acronyms.
F. Therefore they consider it more reasonable
to include this latter acronym in the
list of names, so they erase ר"עה
ח"א and replace it with ר"חעהא.
Here again, we respond point by point:
A-B. The appellation ר"עה
ח"א as R. Ricchi's signature can be seen,
for example, in at
least one of his books in the National Library in
Jerusalem. This acronym is mentioned in
an article by R. Avraham Shisha HaLevi (HaDarom, 5732, p.
246), along with an
explanation. R. Ricchi, who was a Kabbalist,
"attached great significance to signatures of
this kind, especially to the fact that the five letters
of this expression are precisely those
which cannot receive a dagesh (a diacritical mark which
doubles the value of the letter) in
the Hebrew language. In the form ר"עה
ח"א - I am 'Chai,' the young Immanuel
alludes to both of his given names, "Chai" and
C. We believe that there is indeed special
significance to the name by which a person
refers to himself. At the end of Assertion 15 BNMK imply
that there is no significance to
appellations by which others refer to a person; here they
dismiss an appellation by which
someone refers to himself. What's left?
D. The next complaint is particularly bizarre:
If they do not even know the meaning
of ר"עה ח"א,
how do they know that it is "not pronounced"?
Of course it is pronounced!
ח"א is pronounced
Ach -- like the Hebrew word for brother, and ר"עה is pronounced
Ha'er -- "the one who is awake," so that the
entire phrase reads, "the brother who is
awake." It is a play on a passage from Song of Songs
. . . . יתחא יל
יחתפ...קפוד ידוד לוק ,רע יבלו
-- "I am asleep but my heart is awake, the
voice of my beloved knocks,
'Open up for me, my sister . . .' (This
verse is written as an allegory; my beloved
referring to G-d, and my sister is referring
to the Jewish people. The Hebrew for my
has the same root as my brother- יחא).
E. It is true that R. Ricchi also uses a
different signature: ר"חעהא.
It does not make
more sense or less sense. It is simply a different
acronym, and R. Ricchi used both. It is
unclear whether this form is pronounced or not. A
variation of these same 5 letters is used
as the mnemonic to remember the letters which cannot
receive a dagesh - ר"עחהא.
latter acronym, which has no connection to R. Ricchi, is
pronounced (see the Even
Shushan Dictionary, the section on acronyms). Because it
is unclear whether the acronym
supposed to be pronounced, it was not included in Prof.
F. From the above it follows that there is no
basis for erasing the appellation ר"עה
from the list. On the other hand, if they could prove
that ר"חעהא is
pronounced, we would include it in the list.
Please note, if we were to include this appellation,
it would only improve the
results - the acronym ר"חעהא
is in fact more successful than the one we used:
The best result for the second list using ר"עה ח"א was: P2
If we replace ר"עה
ח"א with ר"חעהא
we receive: P'2 = 0.0000000016.
Using both forms we receive: P''2 = 0.0000000012.
They claim that the appellation יחרזמ
for R. Sharabi (31 on the list) is more
closely associated with one of the "Rishonim"
(the early sages). Therefore they erase
this appellation. They claim further that this name
(which means "the Oriental") is not the
family name of R. Sharabi, but relates to him in
the same way that the expression
"Ashkenazi" relates to other personalities,
where Prof. Havlin decided not to use it.
A. The appellation יחרזמ
is indeed the family name of R. Shalom Mizrachi. He
signed his name יבערש
עידיד יחרזמ םולש. This is also how
his name is written on his
tombstone. See also the Encyclopedia Hebraica. In the
Responsa he is also referred to
as יבערש יחרזמ םולש
'ר. Note that the name "Mizrachi" is
positioned before the name
"Sharabi" (by contrast with R. Yitzchak
Luria Ashkenazi). His descendants were also
called "Mizrachi" and this is the name which
appears on the tombstones of his wife and
son as their family name. Furthermore, he was not a
Sefardic Jew dwelling among
Ashkenazim (a common rationale for such an appellation in
cases where it is not a family
name). From all of the above it is clear that
"Mizrachi" was indeed R. Shalom Sharabi's
family name, and that it cannot be compared to the term
"Ashkenazi" in reference to
certain other personalities. See Prof. Havlin's report,
the end of sec. B.
B. Therefore, even if the name יחרזמ is shared by another
scholar, it was necessary to
include it in the list, because a man's given and family
names are too intimately associated
with him to be omitted.
C. Furthermore, they are in error when they
identify R. Eliyahu Mizrachi as one of
"the Rishonim." He, in fact, belongs to the
period of the "Acharonim" (the later scholars).
BNMK claim that in the Encyclopedia Hebraica,
Shem HaGedolim, and in the Responsa database the
appellation Sar Shalom is never
found associated with R. Shalom Sharabi. They found
at least 7 other personalities who
were called by this title, who are mentioned
"extensively" in the Responsa, and several of
them precede R. Shalom Sharabi. Therefore the
appellation Sar Shalom does not identify
Sar Shalom (sic!), and they erase it from the list.
They assert that Prof. Havlin did "the same in
A. It is true that there are other rabbis who are
referred to by the name Sar Shalom in
the Responsa. The most famous of them is R. Sar Shalom
Gaon, mentioned in the
Responsa database some 150 times. The name "Sar
Shalom" is his first name. There are
altogether about 40 references to other rabbis with the
first name of "Sar Shalom." This is
a relatively small number of references, and cannot be
called "extensive" (for comparison,
the Rambam is mentioned approximately 100,000 times).
B. What is unique about the appellation Sar
Shalom in connection with R. Shalom
Sharabi is that it is not his given name, nor is it
his family name. It is an epithet (meaning
"Prince of Peace") which was conferred upon him
by other scholars throughout the
generations, particularly students of the Kabbala, which
was the field in which R. Shalom
was most productive.
Thus we find this appellation attached to his name at
the beginning of his book
Nehar Shalom (printed at the end of Etz Chaim), and in
the approbation of R. Yedidya
Abulafia. This is how Maharit (alGazi) refers to him:
"Our mentor the pious Rabbi Sar
Shalom, o.b.m." This is how R. Chaim Palache refers
to him in his book Tochachat
Chaim, and this is how R. Aharon Ferreira refers to him
in the preface to his book Kapei
Aharon. R. Chaim Shaul Duwayk HaCohen and R. Eliyahu
Leegimi wrote a book called
Sar Shalom about intentions in the prayers, which treats
of R. Shalom's opinions. See also
the introduction of R. Chaim Shaul Duwayk HaCohen to the
book Otzrot Chaim.
The famous R. Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (the Ben Ish Chai)
composed a special
poem for the anniversary of R. Shalom's passing, which
resembles the song Bar Yochai,
is sung on the anniversary of the death of R. Shimon bar
Yochai, except that it revolves
around the epithet Sar Shalom in place of Bar Yochai. See
also the book Divrei Shalom,
by the grandson of R. Shalom, in the section Kuntras
HaMinhagim, where he refers to R.
Shalom as Sar Shalom.
C . (As Prof. Havlin wrote in his report, the
great Kabbalist Rabbi Shalom Sharabi is
not expected to appear in the responsa database. In any
case, in the responsa Rav Pealim
of R. Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, which is included in the
Responsa database, the
abbreviation ש"ש ברה
is mentioned several times, which may stand for "Sar
rather than "Shalom Sharabi").
D. Therefore, there is no justification for
erasing the appellation Sar Shalom.
BNMK claim that "Chelma" is the last name of R.
Shelomo, head of the
Rabbinical court of Chelm (32 on the list), and that it
can be written either אמלח
They base themselves on Margalioth's Encyclopedia, and
on R. Shelomo's
biography, R. Shelomo Chelma, Author of Merkavot (sic)
HaMishna by Abraham Brik
(there is a mistake here - R. Shelomo's work is called
Merkevet HaMishna). Therefore
they add אמלעח and אמלח המלש to the list.
A . Avraham Brik claims (in an article published in
Sinai, v. 61, 5723) that R.
Shelomo always signed his name אמלח
המלש 'קה . He bases this assertion on R.
signature in Pinkas Arba Aratzot (by Y. Halperin), p.
360. However, the signature as it
appears there actually reads:
ס"מהב א"עי אמלעח ק"קב
הנוחה ל"ז השמ ר"רוהמ ברהב
("the young Shelomo son of the Rabbi . . . Moshe,
o.b.m., who is encamped in the holy
community of Chelm . . . author of Merkevet
In no source does he sign using the formula quoted by
The author of Pinkas Arba Aratzot refers to him as
לעב ,אמלעח ד"בא
,שטשומזמ השמ ןב המלש 'ר
("R. Shelomo b. Moshe . . . head of the court of
Chelm . . . .").
B. In Margalioth's Encyclopedia the term אמלח does not appear as
either a family
name, or as an appellation for R. Shelomo.
C. Therefore, in Prof. Havlin's opinion
"Chelma" by either spelling is not R.
Shelomo's family name. They are simply two forms of
writing the name of the town of
"Chelm." It follows then that it should not be
added to the list.
B2. Their changes in the list of the sages:
To arrive at their artificial success, it did not
suffice BNMK to erase correct appellations
and to include appellations that broke the
rules. They also changed the list of the sages itself.
However the changes which they introduce does not fit
within any rule whatsoever!
Please remember that in our second list we included
only those sages in Margalioths
Encyclopedia of Great Men in Israel whose entries are
between one and a half and three
columns and contains either their date of birth or death
(day and month).
In Document 2, Bar Hillel and Bar Natan report that
they did their own check of the
length of the entries in the Encyclopedia. According to
their check, they claim that we
omitted two sages (Rabbi David Ganz, Rabbi Meir
Eisenstat), and added three sages
(Rabbi Aharon of Karlin, Rabbi Yehuda Ayash, Rabbi
Yehosef HaNagid). In this
document, we reply that our choice was a priori,
however it wasnt done by counting the
number of lines, as they did. We report there that we did
re-run our experiment,
incorporating their changes, and that the results
Regarding Section 2.2 in BNMKs
report, they omit some sages and add others, not
following our original list, not following their own
suggestion (above), and in fact not
following any rules whatsoever. BNMK may want to claim
but they broke the rules just
as much as we did, but there is one important
Our choice was to our detriment, and their choice
was to their benefit!