What is One?
The obvious is G-d. There is only one G-d. There is only one sun and moon and earth and universe for us. Only one people called the Jews and only one Eretz Yisrael. There is only one Torah though many ways to understand and best to dig deep.
One is the smallest real number that has value but usually implies power. There is only one king, president, or César. There can only be one boss or captain. We have only one head, one mind, one heart.
One is unique, special, and irreplaceable.
We have only one mother and one father. When a Jewish person sits shiva for the death of a parent it is a significantly longer time than for other relatives. Spouses can be replaced (at least in the sense a person can remarry). There can be many brothers and sisters and even other children. However, there can only be one mother and only one father; so one needs to mourn (keep the laws of mourning) for parents for a year as opposed to every other relative a month is enough.
One can be the unity of many parts that unify and recognize their companionship and connection enough to be called one. United States, United Kingdom are examples of this phenomenon.
There can only be one first born and only one youngest. There can only one pideon haben (ceremony for the first child if a boy born) and one strange custom of dancing with little brooms when the last child gets married.
Moreover, there can only be one of you and one of me. We are all unique and can be called the one and only.
What is Two?
G-d created man…male and female He created them
The world started with two; man and woman. All the animals were first made as a couple and again when they came on Noah’s ark. Look in nature; there are two in all our sights; heaven and earth, night and day, land and sea, hills and the valleys.
We have two arms attached to two hands, and then the parallel in our legs. We have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the body is divided into a front and a back, the upper half and lower half, the right side and the left side.
Two implies opposite; though it does not have to mean in the negative terms; rather in the complimentary terms. A couple can be different from each other, but hopefully, they supplement the missing pieces so when they join to create a united front – we call marriage- they are complete.
At Havdalah (the ceremony demarking the departure of Shabbos; we list more coupled distinctions; between Israel and other nations, between the sacred and profane/secular, between light and darkness, between the Sabbath and the rest of the days.
It is a strange world; today people want to imply there are more than just man and women. Suddenly transgenders are supposedly people who straddle the abyss in between. But in reality, they can only be one or the other with great sympathy for the other side.
There were two stones embossed with the words of the 10 commandments split in 5 on each. This is to teach us; we have to build 2 relationships; one a relationship between G-d and ourselves and the other equal in importance our relationship with others (man to man).
Two is the only even number that is a primary number. This is understandable since it is the first even number. And perhaps from here, we learn that though all even numbers can be divided with 2, when you go back to the basic; there is only the primary base – a man and women, a couple; the start of every family; which should not be divided.
Bet – ב is two; the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet. ‘Bet’ is also the same word for a home. (Most of the Hebrew letters name is also a word for something else – which we then can learn deeper meanings.) The beginning of a home – a Beit is a married couple.
What is Three?
Three is the first number that can create an object, a triangle. A chair needs a minimum of three legs to stand. Three is a primary number – a number that can’t be divided but only is built on. It is the beginning of solidness. By Jewish law, once an event happens three times it is hazakah it is to be expected again for good or bad.
Many of the sayings in Pereke Avot (The Ethics of our Fathers) are based on three things:
Shimon the Righteous would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of God, and deeds of kindness. 1:2
Yehoshua ben Perachiah and Nitai of Arbel received from them. Yehoshua ben Perachia says, “Make for yourself a mentor, acquire for yourself a friend and judge every person as meritorious.” 1:6
Nitai of Arbel says: “Distance [yourself] from a bad neighbor, do not befriend an evildoer and do not despair of punishment.”1:7
He [Rabbi Hillel] used to say: If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when? 1:14
Rabban Gamliel says, “Make for yourself a mentor, remove yourself from doubt and do not frequently tithe by estimation.” 1:16
Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says, “On three things the world stands: on judgment, on truth, and on peace, as it is said (Zachariah 8:16), ‘Judge truth and the justice of peace in your gates.’ 1:18
Akavia ben Mahalalel says: Keep your eye on three things, and you will not come to sin: Know from where you came, and to where you are going, and before Whom you are destined to give an account and a reckoning. From where did you come? 3:1
Rabbi Yishmael says: Be yielding to an elder, pleasant to a youth and greet every person with joy. 3:12
Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua says: Let the honor of your student be dear to you as your own, and the honor of your fellow like the reverence of your teacher, and the reverence of your teacher like the reverence of Heaven. 4:12
Rabbi Elazar HaKapor says: Envy, lust, and honor drive a man from the world. 4:21
Why is the number three used as the basis to understand? When a person has an idea it is one central thought, but only after there are at least three conditions to support the idea will it be substantiated – given validity. Again the concept of three is to be based on solid ground.
We have three primary relationships in life. We have to learn to live with one’s self, with God, and with others. We have three resources to function in the world: thought, speech, and action. Time itself is divided into three categories: the past, the present, and the future.
On Rosh Hashana we have again reminded of the three prong approach: “Teshuva (Return), Tefillah, (Prayer) and Tzedakah (Righteousness) avert the bad decree.”
Our nation was started with three fathers; Abraham who epitomized the characteristic of loving kindness, Issac who represented moral strength and Jacob was known for honesty.
What is Four?
Four is the matriarchs: Sara, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah. Four in Hebrew is a Dalet – a door. A door has four corners and works on a hinge allowing the entrance and exit of all those who want to be contained in the house. Four is the basic shape of stability; a table, chair, stool, desk all have four legs as well as a square and a rectangle – the most basic shape seen in architecture.
There have been four exiles in Jewish history; Egypt, Persia, Greece, and now we are considered in the longest exile of all – Rome – the western ideology. We celebrate each end of exile with wine and good food – Pesach, Purim, and Chanukah. Imagine the great holiday we will enjoy when this long and final exile will end and redemption will be here with the heralding in the age of Mashiach.
The Jewish holidays have many samples of four.
There are the four sons: the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who doesn’t know how to ask.
There are four cups of wine that allude to the four redemptions.
There are four species of trees bearing fruit we take on Succos: the esrog; the pretty and beautiful in its smell, the lulav the long straight one, the hadasim which are nice and the arava which bear no fruit, smell, or pretty sight.
The symbols of different Jews, but without all of the types we could not survive or fulfill the mitzvah.
There are four mitzvot on Purim; mishte – a drinking meal, mishloch manos, megillah, Matanot l’Evyonim – giving to the poor.
Four is a four-letter word. As well as love and hate, work and play, and pray and seek.
What is Five?
Five are the books of Moses – the Chumash. Five are the books of Psalms – Tehillim. The Muslims pray 5 times a day which is believed to be taken from the Jews Yom Kippur service when Jews prostrate themselves (like we see the Muslims do) and have 5 set playing times; Maariv, Scharchis, Mussaf, Mincha, and Nehila.
The 10 commandments were written on 2 luchos – tablets – two of them each with 5 commandments. The division demonstrates the parallel of each commandment to each other. One tablet represented the Jews relationship with other men and the other tablet is the relationship a Jew has with his G-d. And yet they are intertwined with each other.
Five is a primary number. Five is half way when everything is based on ten.
Five is our fingers and our toes. Although only the starfish have 5 appendages, since most animals have appendages that come coupled in pairs of two; yet most animals have 5 fingers, toes, claws, nails, or whatever they are called on any particular animal.
The expression “Give me 5” means approval with a slap of a handshake. “High 5” similar meaning but done in a higher altitude. “Five by five” is a phrase used in radio communication to mean, “I understand you perfectly”.
The American government sits in a building that is laid out a like a 5 pointed star and is called the pentagon. Growing up I remember the “Jackson 5” (when little Michael was cute and young) and Hawaii 5-O – a detective story.
We have 5 senses; smelling, seeing, feeling, hearing and tasting. It is through these senses that we understand our world and can contemplate the wonders of our world.
What is Six?
Six is the books of Mishna.
The Star of David has 6 points (2 inverted triangles).
The world was created in six days and G-d rested on the seventh. Each day has its partner; Sunday with Monday, Tuesday with Wednesday, Thursday with Friday and Shabbos which had none. Shabbos was then partnered with the Jewish people.
The Pesach seder plate has six items.
The charozes: the sweet apple mixture there to represent the mud that was used to make bricks.
The marror: horseradish; to remember the bitterness of the exile
Hazeret: Typically romaine lettuce, the roots are bitter tasting.
Karpas: Celery or Parsley is used, representing spring. The vegetable is dipped into salt water. This symbolizes the tears of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.
Zeroa: To remember the roasted lamb that was used as the Pesach offering the Karbon: shank bone or a chicken wing or chicken neck is used on the plate.
Beitzah: A hardboiled egg, a reminder of life that transcends death.
When we shake the lulav we point in six directions: up, down, right, left, forward and back; signifying that G-d is in all the directions; his worldly presence surrounds us.
In mathematics, a perfect number is when all the numbers that divide into it (excluding the number itself) when added equal the sum of the number itself. 1+2+3=6. In addition, when the number is including into the formula and then divided in half it equals again the number itself. (1+2+3+6)/2 = 6
Perfect numbers are rare. The Ancient Greeks recognized four perfect numbers: 6 – 28 – 496 – 8,128. Throughout history, perfect numbers have fascinated mathematicians and more perfect numbers have been discovered.
A dice and a cube have 6 numbers, and braille is based on six dots. We talk about the sixth sense when we mean someone has an intuition about something. The number 6 is the atomic number for carbon. The standard flute has six holes. The standard guitar has six strings.
What is Seven?
The Omer (the time between Pesach and Shavuos that is counted) is seven weeks multiplied by seven days. Forty-nine days to count, to improve, to build one’s seven midos – character traits to reach the pinnacle of the 50th the day gave us the Torah.
What are the midos? http://www.aishdas.org/asp/lists-of-middos
There is Chesed – selfless kindness, the trait associated with Avroham.
Geuvrah – restraint, the one who can fight the evil inclination characterized by Yitzhak.
Tiferes is symmetry, balance characterized by Yaacov who was the summation of Avroham and Yitzhak his grandfather and father.
The fourth mida (and the week of the Omer) is Netzach meaning eternity. To be able to see the long view and understanding everything is good even what seems bad for us. This is Moshe who brought down to us the everlasting Torah.
Hod is beauty, an eternal beauty connected to hodiah – thankfulness. A person who is kind to everyone, polite and greets all with a smile and gratitude has hod. Yehoshua is hod.
Yesod is the foundation. It is the foundation which connects kedusha the Holiness of Hashem into this temporal world. Yosef who fought his inner desires successfully is yasod.
The seventh is malchut royalty. Malchus is the combination of all the other midos and put into action. Dovid HaMelech is Malchus.
There are seven days in the week in every calendar (at least that I know of). This is not necessarily logical. If the solar year would have chosen six days, not only would it have been an even number, every year would have the same date. January first would always be Sunday, and the holidays would fall out the same day every year (that is the secular holidays based on the solar year, not Jewish holidays – those would still be late or early as some like to acknowledge them. For us Jews, it would be a catastrophe. One week Shabbos would be on Saturday, the next Sunday, and etc. causing havoc in the workplace and confusion for the masses. By having seven days already implies a notion of a day off – Shabbos (which didn’t always exist.) Once the Russians tried to abrogate the entire calendar and created a 10 day week – it didn’t last too long. I have a feeling the vodka use got multiplied during that time. Even in the ancient world, there have been attempts of longer or shorter weeks, and yet it has always come back to the 7 day week – with a Shabbos set by its side – with no equal.
Succos is seven days (with an extra day for Simchas Torah) as well as Pesach. The Shabbos of the land is shmittah, where G-d commanded to rest the earth and go learn for a year every seven years.
In the Beis HaMakdash, the Temple stood the golden menorah – with seven branches – the symbol of the Jewish people, which was lit every day by the Cohen gadol.
Seven represents completion. An octave is 7 musical notes– do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, and topped off with do again. The rainbow has seven colors: Red – Orange – Yellow – Green – Blue – Indigo -Violet (ROY G BIV).
There are seven laws of Noah the 7 mitzvot non-Jews need to follow and are ultimately judged by
Thou shall not worship Idols
Thou shall not Blaspheme
Thou shall not murder
Thou shall not have immoral relationships
Thou shall not steal
Thou shall Respect all Living Creatures
Thou Shall Set up Courts of Law
There are Seven Seas:
the Arctic Ocean
the North Atlantic Ocean
the South Atlantic Ocean
the Indian Ocean
the North Pacific Ocean
the South Pacific Ocean
the Southern (or Antarctic) Ocean
The notion of 7th heaven which has its basis in Kaballah is an understanding of the 7 sacred halls, 7 steps, and the 7 worlds one needs to climb to the Holy of Hollies.
In the ancient time, there were the classic seven wonders:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria
Only the Great Pyramid of Giza still exists.
The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Seven is considered the number most connected to nature; the way of life. Eight goes into the supernatural, the number above nature – but that is the start of another blog.
What is Eight?
Eight represents above nature as in the eighth day of Chanukah. Eight days of Succos. The first 7 days are for the whole world to celebrate and we live outside in the Succah. Then we add one more day – Simchas Torah to celebrate alone in our homes with G-d.
It is the eighth
What is Nine?
Nine is the months needed before a baby is born. Nine is the belief of the amount lives given to a cat. Nine is a number that can be written upside down to create another number – 6.
day a baby boy is given a Brit Mila entering them into the covenant of Abraham.
Nine is the last single digit in the number system.
Nine is 3 times 3; the third square number.
Nine is the highest single-digit number in the decimal system. It is the second non-unitary square prime of the form (p2) and the first that is odd. All subsequent squares of this form are odd.
What is Ten?
Ten is the system we base our mathematics on. Everything is based on multiples of 10; 10, 100, 1000, 10000, and on. In mathematics, a power of 10 is any of the integer powers of the number ten; in other words, ten multiplied by itself a certain number of times (when the power is a positive integer). By definition, the number one is a power (the zeroth power) of ten. The first few non-negative powers of ten are:
1, 10, 100, 1000, 10000, 100000, 1000000, 10000000
There were 10 plagues against the Egyptians until they let the Jews go. There are 10 commandments given on the tablets to Moses on Mount Sinai.
In order to pray, there must be 10 men to make a minyan. Thus ten represents a congregation and not a simple group of people. By making a minyan the whole becomes greater than ten single men. The greatest Rav of today davening by himself does not have the power of 10 simple men who pray together. He can’t even say Kaddish without others. Ten means people become a kehillah – a community.