Tetzaveh 2024: Word Games Before Wordle, Jumble & Scrabble

by devadmin | February 22, 2024 9:07 pm

A shtiekl belated but a huge mazel tov to our dear friends, Doba and Kalman Isaacs upon the wedding -15 days ago- of their beautiful daughter Aliza. Over in holy land of Israel, where both now reside, Aliza was married to Natan, the son of Audrey and Eliot Davidowitz.  The heylige Ois and eishes chayil joined many friends who flew in for this special simcha and for Shabbis sheva brochis. May Aliza and Natan be meritorious to enjoy many decades of blissful marriage.

Raboyseyee and Ladies:

Word Games Before Wordle, Jumble & Scrabble

Let’s us start here: According to Achroinim (latter day sages) including Google, Wikipedia and others, playing word games has become a common hobby for many enthusiasts all over the world. Wordle’s popularity in 2023 is 4x bigger than all other 14 games combined. Wordle is also the most popular word game on average over the given period, despite not ranking for 2020 and 2021. Scrabble was the 2nd most popular word game in 2023 and on average during the given period. The bottom line: by rank, it’s Wordle in the #1 spot followed by Scrabble.  Ober, what is it and who invented it?


Wordle is a web-based word game created and developed by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle. Players have six attempts to guess a five-letter word, with feedback given for each guess in the form of colored tiles indicating when letters match or occupy the correct position.


On the other hand, Jumble is one of the most beloved and successful word games in history. Created in 1954 by Martin Naydel, it has been widely syndicated and licensed to become the most recognizable scrambled word game in the world. Roughly 70 million people have access to jumble every day through more than 600 U.S. and international publications. It is available in books, on mobile applications and on the web. Classic Jumble and newer variations, such as Jumble Crosswords, Jumble Word Vault, Jumble Solitaire, Jumble Jong and others are also favorites.

Ober, is all this information emes? Not! Like a few other things found on Google, it’s not! Not at all! While Josh Wardle may be a genius and Martin Naydel may have been a nice guy, neither of them – or many others- were the creators and or inventors of word jumble games and apps. And if that’s true, who did? As it turns out, it was the RBSO, creator of the world, who also invented the first ever game of jumble and you can read all about it in this week’s parsha of Tetzevah. Is that mamish the emes? It is and let’s read all about it with all the letters of each word spelled out clearly. Of course, their names aren’t mentioned, then again, neither is Moishe’s who goes missing by name for the entire parsha. We have previously covered that topic.

It’s one parsha later and five months have passed. The Yiddin are still busy hocking and klopping away at building the Mishkan and its accoutrements. And as He does in so many parshas, B’H (thank the RBSO) in this week’s parsha as well, the RBSO will create jobs and industries for those Yiddin not destined to become koillel yungaleyght (learners), lawyers, judges, caterers, architects, artisans, and craftspeople. Instead, by demanding a very detailed and highly fashioned clothing line He will have seeded the entire garment industry and put to work many thousands of Yiddin, even those who preferred to skip college. Mamish a perfect fit for them. Nu, what good is a nice outfit, if not properly adorned and bedecked in precious jewels? Not to worry, the RBSO, in another flash of genius, instructed Moishe to make sure that the Koihanim had matching stones and jewels and shoin, just like that, yet another industry was born: diamonds and jewelry!  Stones, both precious and semi-precious are described in great detail in the parsha, as are the specific clothing that the koihanim and the big kihuna wore from head to toe.

And to chap exactly how Wordle and Jumble came about, we need some background. The midbar, as we have discussed in the past, was a magical place. The RBSO made things appear that have many of us scratching our heads ad hayoim hazeh (until today). Had you paid attention in yeshiva instead of daydreaming about meydlich -chazir that you are- you might have known this week’s parsha, of Tetzaveh focuses primarily on the bigday-kihuna (priestly vestments) that koihanim -regular and the big kihuna- had to wear while performing the avoido (service). The RBSO will unveil His first ever male only collection. Efsher you remember that way back in Parshas Bereishis, He fashioned some clothing for Odom and Chava following the incident during which they both chapped forbidden fruit. Their nakedness was exposed. As an aside, according to the medrish, the snake may have chapped Chava -that for another day- and they all got chapped by the RBSO. But that first ever clothing line was nothing when compared to the detailed collection He will unveil for His Mishkan dress code.

This week’s collection was reserved exclusively for the koihanim. Once again, as we make our way through the parsha that spawned haute couture, fashion design and careers for many feygalich and also thousands of Yiddin who would end up in the schmatta business -as either manufacturers, wholesalers, jobbers or retailers- we will need to rely on outside sources (the heylige Gemora and medrish) for further illumination to chap just how  the RBSO was directly involved in the design of this collection. Speaking of illumination, let’s meet the Choishen, an intricate part of the koihen godol’s ensemble and one that was somehow empowered by the RBSO to communicate -without speech- through some magic illumination. Let’s shine some light on it.

Let’s learn some parsha together. Says the heylige Toirah (Shmois 28:15) azoy: “You shall make a ‘Breastplate of Judgment’ of a woven design, like the craftsmanship of the Eyphoid shall you make it, of gold, turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool; and linen–twisted together–shall you make it.” That article, the Choishen, which the koihen godol wore for special occasions as an ornament on his chest, was formally known as the Choishen Mishpot (the Breastplate of Judgment).  And its purpose? The heylige Gemora and many others will tell us that the Choishen symbolically atoned for erroneous decisions made by courts of judgment, and to provide clear directives and rulings for the nation. Remember that last part. Exactly how an article of clothing provided clear directives and rulings will take us another page or two; here we go. Sounds boring but halt kup (pay attention); it’s everything but.

Now would be a good time to remind you that koihanim were directed to wear 4 articles of clothing while the koihen godol, wore 8. According to many, each article of clothing had both a physical and spiritual purpose. Of course every koihen needed gotchkis (underwear) to cover his privates, ober the medrish will teach us that the underwear was meant to atone for sins -mistama done without them. We have previously covered each item and what they were intended to atone for; check out the archives for more details.

The heylige Toirah tells us that the Choishen should look like a square. The medrish and others tell us that the Choishen was twice as long as it was wide, but since it was folded at the middle, its length and width were each one half cubit. Ober just before it was folded in half, the ineffable name of the RBSO, the Tetragrammaton, was written on a parchment and inserted in the fold. This parchment was called the Urim V’Tumim.


The Choishen, which the Koihen Gadol [High Priest] wore, served an invaluable role. Whenever the Jewish nation was faced with a critical issue affecting their national welfare (for example, a question of whether to go to war or not), the Koihen Gadol would seek the advice and the answer would appear on the Choishen. The Choishen had twelve precious stones mounted on it, four rows of three stones each. Each stone represented one of the heylige shvotim (tribes of Israel), each stone engraved like a signet ring, bearing the name of one of the twelve special sons of Yaakov.  Soon we will tie all this together.

Let’s meet the Urim V’tumim, two Hebrew words that will be mentioned a few times this week. As stated above, but worthy of being repeated, the Urim V’tumin was a writing of the Shaim HaMif’or’ash (Explicit Name] of the RBSO that was placed into the Choishen. What are the Urim and Tumim? No one really knows with certainty. There is no consensus as to what these words mean. What was their shape, what were they made of, what was their size, color and how did they function? The heylige Toirah does not tell us. All we know with certainty was that they functioned magically azoy: the first koihen godol to wear them was Aharoin, the first ever full time high priest (we will learn that Moishe functioned in this position for one week). Following Aharoin, the Urim and Tumin functioned for the next appointed high priest. Should Aharoin or any koihen godol have to make a decision and knew not the answer, he would somehow consult the Urim and Tumim. Did they talk? Did words appear on them? Ver veyst? We don’t know! What we do know, though avada not everyone agrees, is that the Urim and Tumim somehow communicated to the koihen godol what the RBSO wanted, and that settled the decision.  The Urim V’Tumim gave the Choishen the ability to convey communications and messages from the RBSO.

Let’s try that again in plain English: Through the letters on the Choishen, the Koihen Godol received prophetic messages. A question posed by the koihen godol to the RBSO was answered through a prophetic vision. This vision utilized the letters engraved on the stones of the Choishen as the medium for communication.

Says the heylige Gemora (Yoma 73b) as quoted by Rashi and the Ramban  (Shmois  28:30)   azoy: the Urim V’Tumim was a single piece of parchment on which the holy name of the RBSO was written. This parchment was placed inside the breastplate (the Choishen), which was embedded with precious jewels, engraved with the names of the shevotim (tribes). The koihen godol, if in need of spiritual guidance, would consult the Urim V’Tumim for divine advice. In other words, he either talked to it, or, while wearing it, concentrated on the question he needed answered. And shoin: magically, the letters on the stones, seemingly charged with the power of the RBSO’s holy name, would light up in some fashion, thereby conveying an answer to the koihen. In other words: the first ever wireless device and the first to arrange letters into words.

And now the exciting part: though enough letters lit up to give the koihen the correct answer, it was his job to somehow unscramble the jumbled letters and fashion out of them, the correct word or words that the RBSO was magically conveying. He needed to solve the puzzle. And he did this how? Through Ru’ach Ha’koidesh (divine prophesy) since without it, the same letters could be combined in a number of ways. He needed to be on a holy level where he could get himself into a trance or spiritual place and then, the RBSO helped him solve the puzzle. Gishmak mamish!

Ober asks the heylige Gemora azoy: why would the Koihen Godol need to have Ruach ha’Koidesh in order to receive an answer from the Urim V’tumim if the letters themselves protruded or joined together to give him the answer.  Not to worry because the Gemora, as expected, answers azoy: the Koihen Godol must have Ruach ha’Koidesh (prophesy) because he must “assist” the letters that protrude or join together. And he does this how? As stated just above and as Rashi tells us, it was his concentration with some help from above that caused the letters to either protrude or join together. Ober did they protrude or join together? Which was it? Shoin, that is of course a shtikel machloikes (dispute) between Rebbe Yoichanan, who maintains that the letters protruded, and Reish Lokish, who maintains that the letters joined together. Who was right?  Says the Ramban (Shemois 28:30) and the Ritva: they were both right. How could this be? Because according to them, the letters both protruded and joined together. Shoin! And taka, there are times when protrusions do lead to joining together, if you chap. Veyter.  Another view will teach us that the letters actually jumped up and fused (to make whole words) on their own.

But wait…which letters lit up? Nu, just above we learned that the names of every sheyvet -from Reuvain to Binyomin- were inscribed onto the precious stones. And for these letters to provide coherent answers, we would assume that between all their names and all the letters in their names, every letter in the Aleph Beis (Hebrew alphabet) would be covered. But we would be assuming incorrectly and it so happens that if you take the time to write out all the names of all the shvotim, you will find that 2 or maybe even 3 letters are not found.

And taka asks the heylige Gemora azoy: how did the letters on the stones of the Choishen combine to spell the answer to any question if they did not contain every letter of the alphabet? We taka know that the names of the twelve sons of Yaakov were inscribed on the stones of the Choishen, but none of those names contain the letter “Tzadi.” Ober not to worry; the Gemora has an answer, it always does.  Seemingly the names of the Ovois (our forefathers) were also inscribed on the stones and avada you know that the name “Yitzchok” contains the letter “Tzadi.” Shoin and erleydikt (settled and case closed). Not so fast because the Gemora then realized that the letter “Tes” appears neither in the names of the sons of Yaakov nor in the names of the Ovois. And if the letter “Tes” was not inscribed on the stones, how could answers from the Urim v’Tumim include it? Not to worry: says the Gemora that the words “Shivtei Yeshurun” (G-d’s holy tribes) were also inscribed on the stones and the word ‘Shivtei’, when spelled out in Hebrew, does in fact contain a “tes.”  Givaldig!

Did the Urim and Tumim always work properly? Says the heylige Gemora (B’rochis 31a) azoy:  There were taka times when the Koihen could not figure out what the letters were saying. A few of you might recall the famous story about Eli Hakoihen (he, the high priest at the time), who misread the letters of the Urim V’tumim regarding Chana. Eli read the letters appearing on the Breastplate to be Shin-Cof-Reish-Hay which spelled out the word of ‘shikoirah’ (drunken one) when in fact the correct reading was Cof-Shin-Reish-Hay, Kesheira (worthy one). Oops!  Seemingly at that precise moment, Eli lacked the power of ‘Tumim’. He saw the light of the Urim but could not properly jumble; he was missing the tumim, the ability to chap what the letters should read.

And to close this subject, says Bais Av azoy: bazman hazeh (in our times) there are many people who are blessed with the power of ‘Urim’, the light of the heylige Toirah. They are quite knowledgeable and can quote from it. But not many have the tumim or the ability to properly interpret what the heylige Toirah is saying or trying to convey. In each generation, only a select few have this gift. Seemingly, there are many with knowledge but few who really chap how to properly interpret this knowledge into what the RBSO really wants from His Chosen people. Shoin.

A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman

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