Re-Reading Torah, Re-Reading Science Texts, in 5783/2022 (&2023): Another Calendrics Blog Post

Re-Reading Torah, Re-Reading Science Texts, in 5783/2022 (&2023): Another Calendrics Blog Post

First Posted Monday, November 28, 2022 / Yom sheni, 4 Kislev, 5783.

David Orenstein, Emeritus, Danforth CTI, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This past Friday was Rosh Chodesh (the head of the month) for Kislev, the month of Chanukah, which begins on Yom sheni, 25 Kislev, and runs eight days, until Yom sheni, 2 Tevet, in the following month. In our Civil Calendar, we’re talking from sunset on Sunday, December 18, (First Lighting of the Menorah) until sunset on Monday, December 26 (Yes, Boxing Day!).

This week we’re reading Parshah (weekly Torah reading) Va-Yetse’ (Bereshit/Genesis 28.10-32.3). Last Shabbat I finished reading Toledot (Bereshit/Genesis 25:19-28:9). So, I have been keeping up with my regular re-reading of the Torah for 5783.

As I write, it’s Thursday, November 17 / Yom chamishi, 23 Cheshvan, and this week it’s Chayei Sarah (Bereshit/Genesis 23:1-25:18) in preparation for services on Shabbat.

Since this is the month of Chanukah, I’ve also started re-reading the four Books of Maccabees. Unfortunately, these books were dropped from the Masoretic canon that makeup the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) of today’s synagogue use.

Luckily for today’s Jews, they’ve been preserved in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Bible from Alexandria in Egypt, translated about 250 BCE. I use A New English Translation of the Septuagint from 2007.

In my History of Math studies, I’ve also been re-reading historic texts. And not just the two I mentioned back in October: Homer Vincent Craig’s 1943 Vector and Tensor Analysis (V&TA) and Proceedings of the International Mathematics Congress Held in Toronto, August 11-16, 1924, published in 1928 under the overall editorship of U of T’s John Charles Fields. Fields chaired a team of sixteen other editors on the Editorial Committee. 

You might be interested to know that my short biography of H.V. Craig is now online in the November 2022 issue of the CSHPM Bulletin. You can get to it through the Links Section of this blog.

In my re-reading of his V&TA I’m impressed both by his full consciousness of the historical context of Vectors and Tensors and by the importance, particularly of Tensors, for both Special and General Relativity.

For Fields’ Proceedings, I’ve mostly been reading through the delegates list. There I’ve noted the way many mathematicians served as delegates for multiple organisations in their home countries. Pour la France, comme exemple, le Professeur Élie Cartan était le délégué au Congrès mathématique international du Ministère de l’Instruction Publique et de la Société Mathématique de France.

Le Professeur Émile Borel de même pour le Ministère, l’École Normale supérieure et la Société Astronomique de France. Mais le champion des délégués français était le Professeur Gabriel Koenigs: du Ministère, de l’Académie des Sciences de Paris, du Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, de la Société des Ingénieurs Civils de France, de la Société Mathématique, et de l’Université de Paris.

I’ve also been checking out the images. For example, there are four etchings by my neighbour Owen Staples. (He would have been my neighbour since his house is only a couple of blocks away from mine in North Riverdale in Toronto.) They have been printed separately and then pasted into the inside covers of both volumes of theProceedings: “Main Portal, University College”, “The Little Cloister, University College”, “Memorial Tower, University of Toronto”, “Great Hall, Hart House”.

The front and back covers bear, embossed in gold leaf, the coat of arms of Canada and the Ontario respectively.

On the title page has been stamped in a rectangular box:

University of Toronto
Department of Civil Engineering
Municipal and Structural

This, though these volumes are now in the main science collection.

I’ve also started, since last week, a re-reading of two more documents of the History of Mathematics, from my own office library:

  1. A general History of Mathematics, the 1945 2nd edition of E.T. Bell’s (California Institute of Technology) Development of Mathematics. It was published in New York City by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. I keep it on one of the shelves over the computer desk in my office. There are indications that I bought it for $4 at a U of T college (UC, Trinity, Victoria, St. Mike’s?) book sale.
  2. Another math textbook, or rather an Actuarial Science textbook: An Introduction to the Theory of Life Contingencies. It was published in 1931 by the University of Toronto Press with a “Price of Two Dollars and Fifty Cents”, and written by the University’s own M.A. Mackenzie and N.E. Sheppard. In 1924 Mackenzie and Sheppard had both been delegates to the Toronto IMC. It’s also thoroughly annotated, possibly by one of the authors, likely preparing a second edition.

But that’s another couple of stories!

Homer Vincent Craig, the 1924 IMC, a mid-20th century History of Math overview, and Actuarial Science in Canadian universities from 100 years ago, together form four different possible topics for a paper for next year’s CSHPM Conference, May 28-30, 2023, at Toronto’s York University.

But that’s another story!

As I mentioned above, I’m reading Parshah Va-Yetse’ for our upcoming Shabbat services. Luckily this week it’s a Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday evening, December 2, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm EST (i.e. 12:00 midnight – 2:00 am GMT on Saturday, December 3). 

So, I’m looking to meeting virtually readers of this blog the following morning at the BSHM Christmas Meeting and AGM. Though the Meeting starts at around 9:00 am GMT; that’s 4:00 am EST here in Toronto. Instead, I figure I can be there by 6:30 am my time, which is two and half hours later, or 11:30 am GMT.

The fact that I can do the math about these times instantaneously in my head is thanks to the work of that Great Canadian, Sir Sandford Fleming! 


Here’s a page copied out of Fields’ Proceedings online. It’s a listing of Fields and his Editorial Committee for the Proceedings:

Listing of the editorial Committee of the Proceedings of the International Mathematics Congress 1924


Previous BSHM Calendrics Posts:

Re-reading the Torah in 5783 post, November 21, 2022.

Rosh Ha-Shonah 5783 post, September 6, 2022.

Passover/Easter post, April 15, 2022.

Previous CSTHA Calendrics Blog Posts:

Simchat Torah 5783 post, October 26, 2022.

Putting “Calendrics” in CSTHA “Search” function.

Mathematics Links:

Appreciation of H.V. Craig’s Vector and Tensor Analysis in November 2020 CSHPM Bulletin. It’s on p. 12.

Biography of H.V. Craig in November 2022 CSHPM Bulletin. It’s on p. 6.

Proceedings of the 1924 Toronto International Mathematical Congress.

Volume I.

Volume II.


Homer Vincent Craig (1943), Vector and Tensor Analysis, McGraw-Hill, New York. xiv + 434 pp., incl. index 4 pp., four Part end biblios.

E.T. Bell (1945, 2nd ed.), Development of Mathematics, McGraw-Hill, New York. xiii + 637 pp., incl. 26 pp. Notes, 27 pp. Index.

John Charles Fields (ed.) (1928), Proceedings of the International Mathematics Congress Held in Toronto, August 11-16, 1924, University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 2 vols, 935 + 1006 pp.

Albert Pietersma and Benjamin G. Wright (eds.) (2007), A New English Translation of the Septuagint, Oxford University Press, New York. xx + 1027 pp.

Rabbi David E. Sulomm Stein (ed.) (1999), 
JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh:
The Traditional Hebrew Text and the New JPS Translation 
(2nd ed.), 
The Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia. 
xxvii + 2039 pp., incl. 
Guide to English Footnotes, 3 pp.,
Guide to Hebrew Footnotes, 3 pp.,
Table of Scriptural Readings, 6 pp.,
Index of Torah Readings, 1 p.