Everyone’s coming out of the closet now so I guess I will too.
I confess that I am a Pythagorean and have been semi-secretly so for many years.
It may sound dirty but it’s not. And it’s got nothing to do with Monty Python. Nor is it a religion or a political movement.
It’s a belief and an attitude. The belief is that numbers underlie everything. The attitude is if something is real, show me the numbers.
The biggest value in latching onto that label though is that it sounds so very much classier than crackpot. This column is all about bringing back the Jubilee. Are you nuts? No, but once in a blue moon I have a malfunction in my lucidity. Tomorrow is a blue moon. Nothing I can do about it.
Perception of color boils down to a specific number of vibrations.
Guy Murchie: “Should you glance for just one second … upon an ordinary yellow dress, the electrons in the retinas of your eyes must vibrate about 500,000,000,000,000 times during the interval, registering more oscillations in that second than all the waves that have beat upon all the shores of all the earthly oceans in 10 million years. And if the dress were green or blue or purple, the frequency would be that much higher.”
Ask yourself: how much of the racial antagonism that we see between blacks and whites is simply the product of an irrational discomfort for a certain range of vibrations of electrons. Sorry, wrong numbers.
What would happen if you could implant a converter in the skull that would make blacks see whites and white see blacks as through rose-colored glasses, a matter of levelling out the number of vibrations generated by melanin levels. Surely, everyone would join hands and go off singing Kumbaya.
For a Jew being a Pythagorean is the most natural thing in the world and you don’t lose your status under the Law of Return doing it. We live in a world where everything moves.
Lincoln Barnett: “The earth, far from being at rest, is whirling through space at a giddy and highly complicated fashion. In addition to its daily rotation about its axis at the rate of 1,000 miles an hour, and its annual revolution about the sun at the rate of 20 miles a second, the earth is also involved in a number of other less familiar gyrations. Contrary to popular belief the moon does not revolve around the earth; they revolve around each other — or more precisely, around a common centre of gravity. The entire solar system, moreover, is moving, within the local star system at the rate of 13 miles a second, the local star system is moving within the Milky Way at the rate of 200 miles a second; and the whole Milky Way is drifting with respect to the remote external galaxies at the rate of 100 miles a second — and all in different directions!”
Between the astronomical number of vibrations going on in our heads all the time just to perceive color and all this warp speed movement going on under our feet, it’s a wonder we do not all feel sea sick all the time. But the movement of heavenly bodies has long been thought of as being in harmony, rightly or wrongly, and referred to as the music of the spheres. In any event the Supreme Being in establishing a sign for his people, did a most Pythagorean thing, chose a number, 7, a kind of off-beat after six beats. The remarkable aspect is that this 7 is meant to express a concept that does not exist anywhere in the material universe – non-movement. That why the Shabbat, for those who observe it, transports them into a concert playing a different music of the spheres, metaphysical not physical.
(Jews often receive credit for giving the world the seven-day week, which was ours from the beginning. But we had nothing to do with it. The Roman Empire was on an eight-day week with the eighth day being market day. Throughout the empire were a very large number of aficionados of astrology whose time frame was seven days based on the heavenly bodies that they knew about. The astrology buffs were part and parcel of the general society; the Jews were not. Sunday, the first day of the astrological week, was a major deal in the empire not the least because worship of the sun god Mithra, particularly in the army, was very strong. When the empire slid entirely into the astrological week, they took the speciality of Sunday with it and that’s been dragged down through the ages as a delusional day of rest in the general society through the force of inertia.)
No one really can explain numbers just as no one can really explain the psyche. Still they make a great pair and give us mathematics.
Hans Vaihinger: “Anyone acquainted with mathematics and its astonishing methods knows how the psyche proceeds.”
“The … concepts of mathematics are space, more precisely empty space, empty time, point, line, surface, or more precisely points without extension, lines without breadth, surfaces without depth, spaces without content. All these concepts are contradictory fictions, mathematics being based on entirely imaginary foundations, indeed upon contradictions.
“Upon these foundations the psyche has constructed an entire edifice.”
That being said a number is phenomenal communication tool. If I assemble 25 people in a room speaking 25 mutually unintelligible languages who had previously been instructed to shout out the name of a symbol I would show them, and I showed them this, 5, I would hear 25 different words all meaning the same thing, the number of fingers on a hand.
Can numbers be used like words joined together as in a sentence and communicate a thought or a fact? The Pythagorean in me says yes they can. If I look at 360 and I say that it means “wholeness” and then I look at 17 and after extrapolating from the work on numbers that Sigmund Freud’s somewhat bizarre physician friend Wilhelm Fliess did I say that 17 means “life,” I suspect that 360 and 17 will give me the date that the State of Israel was reborn. Here was a people that became whole with the rebirth of their state and it was a celebration of life after long years of living with nothing but death. Multiply 17 x 360 and you get 6,120. Israel could not have been restored without the help of Elohim, that’s the Supreme Being. We know that if you run the word “Elohim” in Hebrew on a five-pointed star it will give you pi. Divide 6,120 by pi out to 7 digits (3.1415926) and you get 1948.056537. That 1948 is the year. That 5 is the month. The string 6 + 5 + 3 = 14 is the day. The number absent in the string, 4, is the time the Declaration of Independence was signed. The 7 stands for the first full day of the new state.
When Israel returned it fell into an advanced capitalist and banking system adding some socialist tweaks. The problem is that capitalism will not carry Israel through the long run. This is true even if there is no major stock market crash with the world economy going down the tubes. I must point out here that I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party. On the other hand I found that what Georgi Plekhanov, one of their pioneers, said made a lot of sense.
Georgi Plekhanov: “Customary logic hold fast to the formula: ‘Yes is yes, and no is no;’ whereas dialectic has a formula of a diametrically opposite kind: ‘Yes is no, and no is yes.’”
Lao-Tzu said this more succinctly, “High rests on low.” You can’t have an up without a down. You can’t have a winner without a loser. You can’t have rich without poor. What democratic societies try to do is put a social network under the poor. Being generous requires raising taxes but if these go too high this can harm initiative, productivity suffers, and that brings unemployment to the poor. If you give more than you can afford, as in modern Greece, you can turn your society into a basket case.
The Jews do not own this land. They lease. (Lev. 25:23) They are supposed to pay rent. This comes due every 50 years and is called the Jubilee. It is the antidote to social injustice and a far cry from capitalism. The Jubilee subject is complicated; I’ll come back to it. But from my reading of history, the rent was never paid according to the letter of the law in the Torah, if at all. The upshot is that what is not paid here is paid off in exile. (Lev. 26:34).
Okay show me the numbers. What I wanted to know is how much time the Jews had in the bank when they came back in 1948, that is the surplus of Jubilees paid in advance in exile over the debt on the rent they had to liquidate. That would reveal when the current lease is up and the next exile is meant to begin.
To address the question I had to know the date of the Exodus. For many years no one among the Egyptologists nor Jewish historians nor all the king’s horses nor all the king’s men could even venture a guess when that date was. Actually the only ones who cared and did venture guesses, wild guesses, were the Jewish historians. Their dates had no validity and were useless. What was needed was an outside event intersected with the Exodus.
Into the vacuum plunged Immanuel Velikovsky, a psychiatrist by training, Israel’s first. He looked for that outside event. And found it.
Egyptologists and other professional historians wouldn’t be caught dead using the chronology of Velikovsky whom they regard as a charlatan and this view is shared by most scientists with whom he also locked horns. But I need a date for the Exodus and Velikovsky’s is the only one that passes muster.
The event is the Thera volcano in the Aegean, which had the force of 40 atomic bombs, according to the Canadian Museum of Science. Velikovsky postulated that the radical ecological disruption that this explosion made expressed itself in the plagues or some of them that preceded the Exodus. Scientists are still in dispute over the exact date of the volcano but I just need a ballpark figure and that I got. Play ball.
Based on the Exodus date of Velikovsky I found that the Jews returned to their state in 1948 with 150 years in the bank. That means the lease will run out in the year 2098.
I ran this through the speed of light, first km and then miles, and got a different date, 2118, actually 5878 from the Hebrew chronology. That’s no good because if you have two conflicting dates, separated by 20 years, you haven’t got anything. (I’ve put the actual calculations or legerdemain, as the case may be, at the end of the article.)
Obviously you can’t verify future dates and the future itself may be a multiple-choice question with different outcomes. So any date I get going forward may be as invalid as a Jewish historian’s date for the Exodus. But at the very least I wanted to get one, singular, date. Very well, if the speed of light will give you a date about Israel in the future it should also give you a date in the past, which you can check; and maybe a clue on the differential of 20 years.
A glance at the past. Subtract: 299,793 (speed of light in km) – 186,284 (speed of light in miles) = 113,509 ÷ 2 = 5675 4.5. The first year 5675, Hebrew date, is the start of the WWI, relative to the Jews, that is, when Turkey entered the fray, and the 45 common era is the end of those world wars. If Turkey doesn’t enter the first war, the train of events that led to the re-establishment of Israel does not leave the station, so there is no re-establishment.
That dot means that the 5 x 4 is pointing to 20. This now supplies an explanation as to why, if you go just by the Velikovsky chronology, it comes out that the Jews received 150 years new time in their land based on three Jubilees in the bank and not 170 years. From 1918, the first full year that the Balfour Declaration was in effect, to 2118 is the length of four Jubilees and the state came into being in 1948. However Israel did not possess its capital Jerusalem for 20 years so the restoration did not really start until 1968. The result: the 150 years start from 1968 and end in 2118. So I concluded at that stage of my examination.
Some time after I did those calculations I discovered I had shortchanged Velikovsky. I had pegged the value of the Babylonian sojourn at 50 years figuring that the rent payment is transacted in solid 50-year blocks. But then I discovered at Chron. 36:20-21 that the credit for that sojourn is explicitly stated to be 70 years. That means that the actual bank balance in 1948 stood at 170 years; notwithstanding the lack of half of Jerusalem. Velikovsky as it turns out had set me up for a bull’s-eye at 2118 which I had missed.
Once over lightly on the Jubilee. Back in that social laboratory called ancient Greece whenever the populace arose in revolt or insurrection, they almost always made two main demands, “cancel debts and redistribute the land.” Those demands, the clarion call of revolution, were granted and built into the Torah Jubilee system along with the prevention of a related cancer that can destroy any society, land speculation.
Any secular government that was committed to social justice could bring in the Jubilee system. It’s supposed to be the conclusion of a seven-part string in which the land is given a periodic rest. The seven “shmita” years, letting the land lie fallow, and therefore also the Jubilee, are embedded in the agricultural cycle which ends in the fall, which makes sense. The de jure new year in the Torah is in the spring but everything was shifted over time to mark the new year in the fall. There is no controversy here. The Jubilee starts in the fall, not the spring.
(I understand that religious authorities throw up all kinds of traditional objections to even reopening the subject of the Jubilee. Deja vu. Herzl showed that you just have to ignore them. In the world of ecclesiastics as F. A. Ridley said, “There are no problems to solve, there are only authorities to consult.” In the “dawn of man” scene at the beginning of the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” an ape discovers that he can use a big bone as a weapon. He begins smashing other bones. But while doing so he conceptualizes that he can employ the weapon on a living animal as well. If there were a planet where resided only two sentient animal species, ecclesiastics who had ruled that big bones may only be used for smashing other bones and apes who had realized that the cortex is a gift that never stops giving, if you use it; within a short space of time that place would have evolved into the Planet Of The Apes.)
Here’s how the system is supposed to work. Seven times at the seventh year the land lays fallow and debtors’ obligations are erased, an early no-fault bankruptcy law. In the Jubilee designated property owners get the boot. The Jubilee is proclaimed on Yom Kippur.
Israel is in such a precarious state, having had to engage in one war per decade in the last century and that pace has now been stepped up to two wars per decade in this century, that it seems foolish to focus on anything but pure survival. Let’s just pretend that the border problem is solved; an effective detente comes into force in the region; and we move on. The extreme security situation here creates an understanding among residents that you either hang together or hang separately. But if anything is was harbinger of things to come it was the demonstrations for social justice all last summer; for a welcome change these were not partisan politics as usual but a genuine expression of dismay at the way that the have-nots keep getting shafted by the haves in this society.
Let’s check elements of the program. Letting the land rest for two years after six seems risky but the story of Yosef in Egypt preparing for a seven-year famine is a good object lesson. In the Torah we are promised bountiful crops preceding the grand interruption, but that has to be put in the context of the prime imperative, keeping us razor sharp to cope with any challenge that comes down the pike. Less rain, more pain, may be the order of the day some of the time. The people understand this and expressed it in an unwritten motto carried down through the years. It was made into the title of a popular song in 1943 by Jewish songwriter Frank Loesser, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.” This is self-induced adversity; it just makes you stronger and smarter. Look at what India has to cope with. When the British mismanaged the place from 1770 there were 40 famines costing 58 million lives. This climaxed with the Bengal famine in 1943 when 3 million starved to death while, many Indians such as Madhusree Mukerjee claim, there was sufficient food available but the British screwed up the works. (Sound familiar? And you thought they were bad here. We got off easy.) Since the British left with the Indians themselves in control there have been no famines.
I suppose after the Jubilee year there would be no fat people in Israel and there would be a run on clothing stores as people sized down, but otherwise it’s not a scary proposition.
The Jubilee system answers the question many debtors have asked in their time; how come a guy who goes out and commits a heinous crime, serves his, say, six years, and comes out a free man, but an honest ordinary worker just trying to support his family who gets into trouble will be persecuted the rest of his life and never know a moment of freedom. Worse he will be eaten alive by interest. Debt up to a point won’t kill anyone but interest and all the added charges will. The Torah does not allow interest on personal loans but beyond that, it declares a fundamental human right heard from no other source that no one may be crushed under debt for more than a limited period.
To a very great extent religion is part of the problem, not the solution, when it comes to gaining traction for the implementation of this human right: the prosbul which they use to extend debt is a gimmick invented by the Greeks and it has no place in Israel.
Israel today is one of the most backward democracies in the world as far as personal debt goes. In advanced countries debt is regarded as a private matter with both sides taking an equal risk. Not so in Israel: it is a crime against the state. All the cards are stacked in favor of the banks and the big corporations; they pile on the interest and other obscene charges; suck the very life blood out of ordinary people and their families for years without end; hauling off to prison in the process innumerable unfortunates, not fraudsters.
The Torah is light years ahead of every other system in the world in guaranteeing social justice and in expanding human rights. If someone has a problem with the source, just say it was filtered through a long lost treatise written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and get on with putting the question into the political arena of smashing the power of banks and other corporate predators to embitter the lives of the have-nots of Israel. The capitalist system in this country is like the legendary Juggernaut idol of India being dragged through a narrow street teeming with poor people who scramble to get out of the way but many can’t and they are crushed under its wheels. Meanwhile the rich and powerful sit safely on their balconies sipping their mint juleps applauding the spectacle as the Juggernaut goes by.
The Jubilee is also meant to assure that Jewish slaves are freed. This is not a completely dead letter. Israel has a lot of Jewish hookers plying their trade and some of them have been slaves, bought and sold, either local girls debased by drug use or European girls smuggled into the country. Of course today slavery is outlawed at all times for all people of all ethnic origins, but first you have to find them. I suppose with the Jubilee there would be big sweeps just to make sure they were not caught out with an enslaved Jewish hooker emerging from a locked cellar making headlines in the midst of the celebration.
In order to implement the Jubilee you have to solve a riddle first. The central item on the agenda is the redistribution of property. These are supposed to go back to original owners. We don’t have any original owners. Is there an updated application for this instruction today? The law includes a formula to dampen the prices of property; from what I understand of that, which is not much. But it doesn’t make any sense that a law was promulgated in a book that is meant to live forever with the purpose of bringing social justice to a society and have it expire after the first few days the book is on the market. What about social justice in the future? Beyond that if you are proscribed from implementing the Jubilee law, you can’t defray the rent. That would make the Torah into one big practical joke. Reductio ad absurdum. Given the twin purposes of law, to be a vehicle for social justice and to keep the people out of exile, it’s seems clear to me that you have to find a way to revive the Jubilee.
The deus ex machina for redistributing property today is the Eminent Domain law in the US which allows municipalities to seize land from one group of private citizens and give it to another group of private citizens for the benefit of society as a whole. Over there it’s all about allowing commercial development. But this provides our government with a model law so it can redistribute property as it sees fit for the benefit of society as a whole.
You have to go back to principles to figure out exactly what to do. Three elements of the program have a common denominator: land fallow (renewal); debts released (renewal); slaves freed (renewal.) Now we come to the challenge. The Torah talks about restoring property to former owners who were alienated from theirs during the half century. That is definitely a form of renewal in the sense it is an attempt to prevent the society from falling into exclusive classes of patricians and plebs, aristocrats and serfs, in order to make sure that everyone has a piece of action. Nothing has changed and the remedy is at hand.
Here’s the program. A few years before the Jubilee you can identify properties that are not being utilized in a way that serves the public interest and go for renewal; not urban renewal, but simple renewal. The owners get evicted. In some cases the people wouldn’t be evicted; they would be helped. What are you looking at? The following people would be targeted for the heave-ho. Absentee owners. Either you are a Zionist and live here or not. If you are making a living in Switzerland and come here for one month a year, you can rent a flat. Dilapidated properties. It could be that these would include a class of people that could be helped. Depends on the case. Criminal families. I thought they were supposed to be doing this anyway, but if properties were bought with drug money et al, those guys are gone. Non-citizens. This isn’t the Bahamas. Take the citizenship or move out of the way. Speculators. One property per customer although during the other 48 years no one is going to bother them. Undoubtedly there are other classes of undesirables who can be added to the list.
Who gets the properties? Might have to work up a point system. Certainly widows and orphans of servicemen who fell in action. Servicemen who were disabled in action. Young couples if one served in the military. Poor couples or single parents with small children. Large families. Poor immigrants. I’m sure if administering this were put in the hands of a panel of jurists, say, to keep the politicians from corrupting the system, you could help a lot of deserving citizens and give your country a robust shot in the arm every 50 years. I think also you meet the intent of the Torah law. They used to build in this country public housing for this class of people; now they let them rot. No money they say. The Jubilee can provide a bonanza of available properties at an affordable cost because the prices are going to be held down.
The 49th year is when the land is made fallow and the debtors are released. The proclamation of liberty throughout the land is made on Yom Kippur. The reason for this is obvious. That is one day when the entire nation would be a captive audience, gathered with their families, with nothing else to do. Some soldiers would be on guard, police would be making rounds, women would be in labor with attendants, and I suppose certain essential services have to be maintained with non-Jews where possible.
This magnitude of the event, through bloodless, would be no less electrifying than what it was in the French Revolution, proclaiming liberty, and what goes with it, equality, and fraternity to the entire nation, a day of glory, exactly as it is sung in the French national anthem: “Allons enfants de la Patrie. Le jour de gloire est arrivé.”
The Hebrews when they left Egypt were 100 per cent of the proletariat class with the exception of the leader. Left alone in a capitalist society, the speculators and the manipulators, people who make a lot of dough without getting their hands dirty, surrounded by maids and servants, the classic high bourgeoisie, float to the top, control the politicians, live the life of Riley, and keep themselves insulated from the hard daily struggle of the have-nots, and they periodically have to be taken down a peg or four. “You must shock the bourgeoisie,” said Baudelaire. The sooner the better.
I suppose to get action on the main law, redistributing property, you may have to bring onto the stage a hard-left party, comrade. There hasn’t been one in Israel probably since the 30s. When a hard-left party gets into government capitalists shake in their boots because there is no pussyfooting around with them. (What they call the “left” in Israel today pussyfoots around with everyone. I know many people in the working class and they refer to them as collaborators, fifth columnists, and worse. Their entire program is “let’s give the Arabs everything they want and maybe they’ll stop hitting us.” This is not right, but it’s not left either.)
A hard-left party could probably get off the ground simply by giving the people what they want: cigarettes at no more than 10 shekels a pack with matching tax cuts on beer, vodka, and arak.
You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich and say that there is no rent to be paid on this land or if so, the rent is not the Jubilee. Maybe we can settle this in a Pythagorean manner. Show me your numbers. Here are mine.
I’m looking at a booking at the hotel from 1948 to 2118, a total of 170 years.
Here’s where I extracted the 2118 date. Fliess pegged 23 as the male and 28 as the female and these numbers worked for me every time. I’ll use them. I needed a number for calamity. The watershed calamity in the Torah was brought on by the serpent. The roots of the word are connected to copper and also these two are connected in the story of the copper serpent. I use 29, the number of copper on the periodic table, for calamity.
I took the speed of light in km per second. 299,793. I divided by 51, that’s the male 23 plus the female 28. The date 5878 shows as the whole number; aka 2118. Following that are 2941, the 29 indicates calamity and the 41 is my birth year, the signature on the piece.
Confirmation. The speed of light in miles per second is 186,284. The number of life is 17. I now multiply 186,284 by 34 (life and life) and get 6,333,656. From that I subtract 624,730, the number of males in the second census heading into the land but they would now be moving in the opposite direction. The result is a hodgepodge 57089 26. The 2 6 are my birth day and month, the signature on the piece. It gives instructions to regard this as two numbers and that three digits move two spaces. You obtain 5879 0 26. That is the year following the calamity with the zero showing that there is now nothing remaining.
One final question: why the hodgepodge? Put up 58790 and subtract 57089. The result is 170 1. The 170 for the number of years means that what you see is what you get. The “1” is the signature on the piece, not mine.