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Significance of numbers in Judaism

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Title: Significance of numbers in Judaism  
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Subject: Numerology, Psalm 27, Hebrew numerals, Jewish philosophy, Gematria
Collection: Jewish Philosophy, Jewish Views on Society, Judaism-Related Lists, Number-Related Lists, Numerology
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Significance of numbers in Judaism

Numbers play an important part in Judaic ritual practices and are believed to be a means for understanding the divine. A Mishnaic textual source, Pirkei Avot 3:23, makes clear that the use of gematria is dated to at least the Tannaic period. This marriage between the symbolic and the physical found its pinnacle in the creation of the Tabernacle. The Hebrew word for symbol is ot, which, in early Judaism, denoted not only a sign, but also a visible religious token of the relation between God and man. It is largely held by Jewish leadership that the numerical dimensions of the temple are a "microcosm of creation ... that God used to create the Olamot-Universes."[1]


········· 10
11 · 12 · 13 · 14 · 15 · 16 · 17 · 18 · 19 · 20
22 · 23 · 24 · 25 · 26 · 27 · 28 · 29 · 30 · 33
40 · 42 · 44 • 49 · 50 · 54 · 60 · 63 · 70 · 80
90 · 100 · 120 · 147 · 150 · 175 · 180 · 200
216 · 245 · 248 · 300 · 365 · 374 · 400 · 430
480 · 586 · 600 · 601 · 613 · 702 · 930 · 950
969 · 304,805
See Also · Notes · References


  • The gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew letter א



  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ג
  • Indicative of a spiritual struggle or journey, especially 3 days/3 nights. See the Akkadian myth of Inanna's descent into the underworld.





  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ז
  • The number 7 is the Divine number of completion
  • The general symbol for all association with God; the favorite religious number of Judaism, typifying the covenant of holiness and sanctification, and also all that was holy and sanctifying in purpose






  • There were twelve loaves of show-bread on the shulchan (table) in the Beit Hamikdash
  • Sons of Jacob[2]
  • Tribes of Israel[2]
  • Stones of the Hoshen
  • Age at which Bat Mitzvah is attained (Orthodox tradition)
  • Number of springs of water at the Israelites' encampment following the incident at Marah




  • One of two numbers that is written differently from the conventions of writing numbers in Hebrew in order to avoid writing the name of God.[3] The other is 16.
  • Date of the Hebrew month on which the full moon occurs. Several holidays occur on this date: Pesach, Tu B'Av, Sukkot, Tu B'Shevat, and Shushan Purim.


  • One of two numbers that is written differently from the conventions of writing numbers in Hebrew in order to avoid writing the name of God. The other is 15.



  • Gematria of "CHAI" חַי, the Hebrew word for life. Numbers evenly divisible by this number are considered good luck.
  • The maximum number of minutes matzah is allowed to bake in order to be considered kosher for Pesach
  • Date in the month of Iyar when Lag Ba'omer occurs







  • Date in the month of Elul on which creation began
  • Date in the month of Kislev Chanukah begins








  • Number of hours Adam & Eve spent in the Garden of Eden.
  • Number of sins which carry Kareth
  • The Tzadikim Nistarim (Hebrew: צַדִיקִים נִסתָּרים, hidden righteous ones) or Lamed Vav Tzadikim (Hebrew: ל"ו צַדִיקִים, 36 righteous ones), often abbreviated to Lamed Vav(niks)[a], refers to 36 Righteous people, a notion rooted within the more mystical dimensions of Judaism. The singular form is Tzadik Nistar (Hebrew: צַדִיק נִסתָר). The source is the Talmud itself, explained as follows:
    As a mystical concept, the number 36 is even more intriguing. It is said that at all times there are 36 special people in the world, and that were it not for them, all of them, if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. The two Hebrew letters for 36 are the lamed, which is 30, and the vav, which is 6. Therefore, these 36 are referred to as the Lamed-Vav Tzadikim. This widely held belief, this most unusual Jewish concept is based on a Talmudic statement to the effect that in every generation 36 righteous "greet the Shechinah," the Divine Presence (Tractate Sanhedrin 97b; Tractate Sukkah 45b).[4]
    The Lamed-Vav Tzaddikim are also called the Nistarim ("concealed ones"). In our folk tales, they emerge from their self-imposed concealment and, by the mystic powers which they possess, they succeed in averting the threatened disasters of a people persecuted by the enemies that surround them. They return to their anonymity as soon as their task is accomplished, 'concealing' themselves once again in a Jewish community wherein they are relatively unknown. The lamed-vavniks, scattered as they are throughout the Diaspora, have no acquaintance with one another. On very rare occasions, one of them is 'discovered' by accident, in which case the secret of their identity must not be disclosed. The lamed-vavniks do not themselves know that they are one of the 36. In fact, tradition has it that should a person claim to be one of the 36, that is proof positive that they are certainly not one. Since the 36 are each exemplars of anavah, ("humility"), having such a virtue would preclude against one’s self-proclamation of being among the special righteous. The 36 are simply too humble to believe that they are one of the 36.[4]

It is also said that one of these 36 could potentially be the Jewish Messiah if the world is ready for them to reveal themselves. Otherwise, they live and die as an ordinary person. Whether the person knows they are the potential Messiah is debated.

  • The term lamedvavnik is derived from the Hebrew letters Lamed (L) and Vav (V), whose numerical value adds up to 36. The "nik" at the end is a Russian or Yiddish suffix indicating "a person who..." (As in "Beatnik"; in English, this would be something like calling them "The Thirty-Sixers".) The number 36 is twice 18. In gematria (a form of Jewish numerology), the number 18 stands for "life", because the Hebrew letters that spell chai, meaning "living", add up to 18. Because 36 = 2×18, it represents "two lives".


  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter מ
  • The number of days the spies were in the land of Canaan
  • Years in the desert—a generation[5]
  • Days and nights of rain during the flood that occurred at the time of Noah
  • Isaac's age at marriage to Rebecca
  • Esau's age at marriage to his first two wives
  • Number of days Jonah prophesies will pass before Nineveh is destroyed. They repent in the interim.
  • Number of se'ah (volume measurement of water) in a mikveh (ritual bath)
  • Number of years of the reign of David, Solomon, and the most righteous judges in the book of Judges
  • Number of lashes for one who transgresses a commandment
  • Number of days which the Torah was given
  • Number of weeks a person is formed in his mother's womb
  • Number of curses on Adam
  • Minimum age at which a man could join the Sanhedrin



  • Total number of candles lit during all 8 nights of Hanukah[6]
  • The Merkabah is associated with the four wheels and four faces in Ezekiel's vision. The word Merkabah is also found 44 times in the Old Testament.[7]



  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter נ
  • Frequency of the Yovel year
  • Shekels of silver paid by King David for the threshing floor of Araunah (Jerusalem)[II Samuel 24:24]




  • Total tractates in the six books of the Mishnah










  • Longest parshshah in the Pentateuch (Naso)
  • Longest chapter of Psalms (Chapter 119)
  • Longest tractate in the Talmud (Tractate Bava Basra)





  • Words in the Shema prayer


  • Total number of positive mitzvot
  • Gematria of Abraham (אברהם)
  • Organs in body
  • Total words in Shema






  • The time that the people of Israel dwelt in Egypt.[9]


  • The number of years between the time the people of Israel came out of Egypt and the laying of the foundation of the Temple in the 4th year of the reign of King Solomon.[10]















  • Total number of letters in the Torah

See also


  1. ^ Kaplan 1990: p. 57
  2. ^ a b Samuel 2007: p. 243
  3. ^ Dosick 1995: p. 155
  4. ^ a b Zwerin, Rabbi Raymond A. (September 15, 2002 / 5763). "THE 36 - WHO ARE THEY?". Temple Sinai, Denver: Archived from the original on Jan 18, 2003. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Numbers 14:18-35
  6. ^ Calculated as: ∑(x=2 to 9) x = 44
  7. ^ Brown; Driver; Briggs; Gesenius (1988). "Hebrew Lexicon entry for Merkabah". The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  8. ^ "Hebrew Gematria - A Lion's Might". 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2011-04-28. 
  9. ^ 7 generations of 40 years plus 10. (7 × 40) + 10 = 430. Exodus 12:40
  10. ^ 12 generations of 40 years. 12 × 40 = 480. 1 Kings 6:1


  • Ganz, Yaffa (1981). Who Knows One?: A Book of Jewish Numbers. Nanuet, NY: Feldheim Publishers. p. 32.  
  • Samuel, Gabriella (2007). The Kabbalah Handbook: A Concise Encyclopedia of Terms and Concepts in Jewish Mysticism. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher. p. 467.  
  • Dosick, Wayne (1995). Living Judaism: The Complete Guide to Jewish Belief, Tradition, and Practice. New York: HarperCollins. p. 155.  
  • Kaplan, Aryeh (5-1-1997). Sefer Yetzirah. New York: Weiser Books. p. 424.  
  • Coleman, Wade (2008). Sepher Sapphires, A Treatise On Gematria The Magical Language. Fraternity of the Hidden Light.  
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