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Significance of numbers in Judaism

Numbers play an important role 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]



  • The gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew letter א
  • One is our God, in heaven and on earth - אחד אלוהינו שבשמיים ובארץ


  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ב
  • Two are the tablets of the covenant - שני לוחות הברית
  • The two of every unclean animal in Noah's Ark



  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ד
  • Four are the Mothers (Matriarchs) - ארבע אימהות (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah)



  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ו
  • Six are the books of the Mishnah - שישה סידרי משנה
  • The six working days of the week
  • The six days of Creation


  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ז
  • Seven are the days of the week - שיבעה ימי שבתא


  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ח
  • Eight are the days of the circumcision - שמונה ימי מילה
  • Total number of days of Yom Tov in a year in Israel
  • Number of days of Chanukah
  • Number of days of Pesach (Diaspora)
  • The number of strings in each corner of the tzitzit


  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter ט
  • Nine are the months of pregnancy - תישעה ירחי לידה



  • Eleven are the stars of the Joseph's dream - אחד עשר כוכביא


  • Twelve are the tribes of Israel - שנים עשר שיבטיא
  • Twelve is the age at which a Jewish female becomes obligated to follow Jewish law.
  • There were twelve loaves of show-bread on the shulchan (table) in the Beit Hamikdash
  • Sons of Jacob
  • 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.[2] The other is 16.


  • 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. Multiples of this number are considered good luck and are often used in gift giving.





  • Total number of books in the Tanakh
  • twenty-four kohanic gifts
  • 24,000 people that died in the plague that Pinchas stops (Numbers 25:9)
  • 24,000 students of R Akiva that died
  • 24 questions that Reish Lakish would ask Rebbi Yochanan (Talmud Bavli, Tractate Bava Metzia, Folio 84a)
  • 24 benedictions recited in the Amidah on fast days


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



  • Value associated with "Koach" meaning strength, commonly used in the saying "Yasher Koach"



  • 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).[3]

    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.[3]

  • 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[4]
  • 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



  • The gematria of the Hebrew letter נ
  • The 50th year of the land, which is also a Shabbat of the land, is called "Yovel" in Hebrew, which is the origin of the Latin term "Jubilee", also meaning 50th.










  • Gematria of Lion[5] (בורה) and Gevurah (גבורה)


  • Gematria of Abraham (אברהם)
  • Number of positive commandments
  • Number of limbs (איברים) in man's body












See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Kaplan 1990: p. 57
  2. ^ Dosick 1995: p. 155
  3. ^ 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. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ Numbers 14:18-35
  5. ^ "Hebrew Gematria - A Lion's Might". 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2011-04-28.