Re-Reading Torah, Re-Reading Science Texts, in 5783/2022 (&2023)

Another Calendrics Blog Post

First Posted Friday, November 25, 2022 / Rosh Chodesh, Yom shishi, Kislev, 5783.

By David Orenstein, Emeritus, Danforth CTI,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It’s Rosh Chodesh once more. Only this month it’s 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!).

Today is also Erev Shabbat with Parshah (weekly Torah reading) Toledot (Bereshit/Genesis 25:19-28:9). 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 Science 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. Criag 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 the Proceedings: “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 month, a re-reading of two more documents of the History of Science in Canada from my own office library:

  1. The Annual Report for 1897 of the Geological Survey of Canada. George Mercer Dawson (son of McGill’s William Dawson) was the Director, and he submitted the Report “to the Honourable Clifford Sifton, M.P., Minster of the Interior”, in addition to writing his own 155 page “Summary Report”. It was printed in Ottawa in 1899 “by S.E. Dawson, Printer to the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty”.
  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

But that’s another couple of stories!

Homer Vincent Craig, the 1924 IMC, the 19th century GSC, and Actuarial Science in Canadian universities from 100 years ago, together form four different possible topics for a paper for next year’s CSTHA Conference, in November 2023.

By a pleasant coincidence, I’ve heard that the organisers for this conference are getting together today to start the planning.

But that’s another story!


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



Previous CSTHA Calendrics Blog Posts:

Simchat Torah 5783 post, October 26, 2022.

Yom Kippur 5783 post, October 4, 2022.

Rosh Ha-Shonah 5783 post, September 29, 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.

George Mercer Dawson et al. (1899), Geological Survey of Canada, Annual Report 1897, Queen’s Printer, Ottawa. xiii + 156 + (pagination for five more Reports) + xxi pp., incl. xxi 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.

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