The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0758 Thursday, 21 April 2005
From: David Basch <
Date: Thursday, 21 Apr 2005 11:11:22 -0400
Subject: 16.0747 Public Insults
Comment: Re: SHK 16.0747 Public Insults
In his response to the problem of "public insults" on our list, Larry
Weiss rightly argues that those with open minds ought to listen to
theories "supported by a mountain of confirmed evidence and reliably
measurable phenomena." Yet this is advice he fails to follow as he
hysterically distorts views he does not like.
For example, showing that he has not considered ideas presented on this
list, he reduces them to nonsense in the way he describes them.
In reacting to the observation that transliterations of the
Tetragrammaton appear in some sonnets he writes this off as merely the
fact that "some of Shakespeare's sonnets employ the letters i (or j), h
and v (or w or u) scattered through the poems."
In actuality, it was shown that Sonnets 30 and 31 open with unmistakable
configurations that present transliterations of the Tetragrammaton. In
Sonnet 30, this is in the form of a palindromic presentation that can be
read forward and backward as I-VV-H (JaVVaH) and I-HV-h (JaHVaH). In
Sonnet 31, we find yh-Wh at the beginning of the first two lines, which
when also read from right to left yield ihW-H. (In these "i" and "j" are
the same Elizabethan letter.) When the poet's method of presenting these
names is recognized, we are then enabled to find other similar
configurations of this name in the same sonnets, which though in divided
forms, have divided forms which are similar in construction, telling
that these are patterned and not accidental. Then in Sonnet 105, we have
similar phenomenon in displaying the transliterated name "El Shaddai"
numerous times. The presence of these names tells to whom the poet is
addressing these sonnets, though this alone would not tell whether the
poet were Jewish or not.
Weiss then denigrates the idea that Shakespeare used names in his plays
that have meaning in Hebrew, writing them off as accidental syllables:
some of the names of characters in the plays
have syllables which are similar to syllables in
In fact, not only are the syllables similar to Hebrew words, but the
meaning of the Hebrew shows up in the play. For example, the Hebrew word
ho'ra'ti (a word that appears in the Bible in Exodus 4:15) that appears
in Horatio means "I taught." What is more, a variation of this, ha'ri'ti
(another biblical word in Numbers 11:12) means, "I conceived," and still
another Hebrew word that sounds similar, ha'ro'ti, means "I was shown."
(This appears in the Bible as "harot," "it was shown.") This would all
be coincidence and insignificant except that all three meanings are
actualized in the play within a single speech by Hamlet. Hamlet declares
in effect that "I was shown" (ha'ro'ti) by Horatio a model of noble
manhood, describing Horatio's ability to withstand the buffets of
fortune and "not a pipe for fortune's finger to sound what stop she
please," and certainly "not passions slave." In fact, Hamlet's speech
itself is also an example of "I taught" since Hamlet is actually
explaining himself, teaching Horatio. And the meaning "I conceived" is
also actualized in this same speech as Hamlet says, "Since my dear soul
was mistress of her choice / And could of men distinguish," which is "to
conceive" of such differences.
Here again, this use of Hebrew and also the use of Hebrew that Florence
Amit observed in the meaning of the name of Othello, also actualized in
this play (and some other examples in other plays), would not in
themselves prove that the poet was Jewish, but such instances cannot be
wished away. This appears in Shakespeare's work and indicates his
knowledge of Hebrew and his conscious intention to use this kind of
Finally, Weiss reduces Shakespeare's demonstrated knowledge of Judaic
literatures like the Talmud to mere expressions of "some notions which
parallel notions in the Old Testament." In fact, the poet shows
considerable knowledge of Talmudic materials. For example, the poet
quotes directly from this literature in numerous instances and his play
Hamlet features some famous Talmudic controversies.
In any case, the poet's use of this material, though highly suggestive,
would not alone tell that he is Jewish. The argument for his Jewishness
is to be found in The Merchant of Venice which uses Judaic elements
throughout the play to present a hidden content that turns the play's
theme inside out, making the good guys the bad guys and the bad guy the
Thus, Shylock is guilty of nothing more than unwisely violating a
biblical proverb that cautions against going to court unless the verdict
is already known in advance. Shylock defeats himself in trying to carry
out a charade in court to force Antonio to beg mercy from him, a Jew,
thinking he will have a chance to let this charade run its full course.
This is hardly a venal fault. On the other hand, his enemies are shown
to be guilty of far worse: robbery, slander, and the violation of the
cardinal requirement of their religion to show mercy by failing to
dispense mercy to Shylock who is at their mercy, who is then beggard and
forced to convert on pain of death.
Also, in a dramatic scene in this play, the poet ingeniously presents
his own hidden family name, Shakere, a name with a meaning in Hebrew.
(This name was revealed by historian Peter Levi in an English court
record his biography of Shakespeare.) This and more was presented in
detail in my book, The Hidden Shakespeare, and reveals the poet as very
much at home with Judaic culture.
The above are only a few of many pointers to the Jewish origins of
William Shakespeare presented in my books. But as long as Weiss insists
on not knowing about such things, he will not have to confront these
findings. And while, in the end, it may be shown that even these
findings do not prove more than that Shakespeare had a mind that reached
out across cultures, Weiss will not entertain such views. If he
considers himself an open minded intellectual and still fails to open
his mind to such things, are we not entitled, to use Weiss's own phrase,
"to laugh him out of court"?
I also would inform him that some things he thinks are irrefutable are
hardly so. For example, there is no proof that Shakespeare's mother was
a descendant from the historic Arden family, but merely from a family
with the same name.
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