Posts Tagged 'Palindrome'

Do geese see God?

Recently I found myself doing some reading on palindromes. A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of units that can be read the same way in either direction. Some examples of common palindromic words: civic, radar, level, kayak, and my sons’ favorites toot, boob, and of course poop.  And then there are the palindromic phrases:  “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama”, “Madam, I’m Adam”,  “Madam in Eden, I’m Adam”, and “Never odd or even.”

Then there is the next level of palindrome which reproduces itself if one forms a word from the first letters, then the second letters and so forth. Hence, it can be arranged into a word square that reads in four different ways: horizontally or vertically from either top right to bottom left or bottom left to top right. Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra wrote one:

פ ר ש נ ו
ר ע ב ת ן
ש ב ד ב ש
נ ת ב ע ר
ו נ ש ר ף

Which translates any way you read it as  “We explained the glutton who is in the honey was burned and incinerated” . This is a referring to the halachic question as to whether a fly landing in honey makes the honey treif (not kosher). There is a totally different question as to why honey is kosher as all being the product of a trief animal, but that is another matter all together.

So I assume if you made it this far you are curious as to why in the world I have become so interested in palindromes. And the answer is that amidst my summer travels visiting camps I stumbled on yet another kind of palindrome. So there I was traveling near Poughkeepsie, NY and I passed County Road 21 which is Noxon Road. So it is obvious that Noxon is a normal palindrome. It reads the name way either reading left to right or right to left. But stop for a moment and realize that NOXON also reads the same if you were standing on your head. Beyond even the word square NOXON is an upside down palindrome. There is even a Mountain in Montana by the same name. This all makes me ask, Do geese see God?


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