The Firstborn Tribes
Parshat Vayeitzei is the seventh parshah in the Torah and all sevenths are endeared. In our parshah we read about the birth of 11 of the 12 sons of Jacob, the tribes of God, from Re’uven, Leah’s firstborn child to Joseph, Rachel’s firstborn.
In our parshah, each of Jacob’s four wives gives birth. All of Jacob’s wives were wed to him as a result of his love for Rachel. And yet, it is Rachel who remains barren until the very end, until she gave birth to Joseph. Though the Torah relates that Rachel named her first child “Joseph” in prayer that God should give her another son, his name also means “end,” alluding to his mother being the last of Jacob’s wives to give birth and Joseph being the last child born in this parshah. So, it can be said that it was also in Rachel’s merit that Jacob’s other wives all gave birth. Indeed, it was Rachel who bore Jacob his last son, Benjamin.
The four firstborn children of each of Jacob’s wives are: Re’uven from Leah, Dan from Bilhah, Gad from Zilpah, and Joseph from Rachel. If we add the numerical values of all their names we get 476, which is two times the gematria of “Rachel” רחל (238)!
ראובן דן גד יוסף = רחל רחל
Just the initials of all four firstborn children ר ד ג י = 217, which is the numerical value of Dan, Gad, and Joseph, דן גד יוסף . This also means that the rest of the letters, אובן ן ד וסף equal the gematria of Re’uven ראובן .
As the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained in reference to the sages’ idiom that all sevenths are endeared, they are endeared because they are the seventh after the first; the seventh gives complete and full expression to everything that was still in potential in the first.1 Since here we are counting parshahs, the first is Bereisheet. Thus, parshat Vayeitzei, the seventh parshahfrom the creation of the world in parshat Bereisheet, gives full expression to everything that lay in potential in Bereisheet. Namely, the formation of the complete house of Jacob, the Jewish people, is the beginning of the revelation of all the potential created by God. As the Midrash says: “’Bereisheet’—[means] for Israel who are called ‘reisheet’ [the beginning].”
Let us look at the name of our parshah mathematically. The name of our parshah in Hebrew is spelled ויצא . The first filling of these four letters is: וו יוד צדיק אלף . We are interested in the second filling: וו וו יוד וו דלת צדיק דלת יוד קוף אלף למד פא , whose numerical value is exactly 1600 = 402. Since the central theme of this parshah is the building of the house of Jacob and the birth of the tribes (as well as all of the forthcoming generations of Jewish souls, whom according to Kabbalah Jacob selected vicariously through the building of his flocks) 40 alludes to the 40 days during which a newborn child is formed in its mother’s womb.
Continuing the theme, 1600 is also the numerical value of the words: “He [God] counts the progeny of Israel”2 ומספר את רבע ישראל . These words are part of Bilam’s curse-turned-to-blessing and state that God selects from the many possible progeny that can be produced by each couple the specific ones that He wants. The word for “progeny” here is רבע , which also means “square,” alluding to the square [of 40]!
Seventh Word of the Seventh Parshah
Since ours is the seventh parshah and all sevenths are endeared, let us continue this idea and look at the seventh word of the parshah. The seventh word is the first word of the second verse, ויפגע , which is usually translated as “He [Jacob] arrived,” but more literally it means “He hit upon [the place],”or “He collided with [the place].” The gematria of the seventh word ויפגע is 169 = 132, where 13 is the gematria of “one” אחד , and “love” אהבה .
We have talked about letter fillings before. Recall that the Arizal taught that the consummate development of a word and the revelation of all of its spiritual potential are expressed when one writes out its filling and its second filling. We have already seen that the value of ויפגע is 169. Now, let us write out the first and second filling of ויפגע .
The first filling is: וו יוד פא גימל עין = 326.
The second filling is: וו וו יוד וו דלת פא אלף גימל יוד מם למד עין יוד נון = 1195.
Beautifully, the sum of all three levels of this word is 1690, which is 10 · 169, the gematriaof the simple word ויפגע ! This means that when Jacob came to the place, which was of course the spot where the binding of his father, Isaac, took place, and the future sight of the Holy Temple, he connected with it consummately with all 10 sefirot of his essence in the World of Emanation. More specifically, we may say that the word itself, whose value is of course 1 times 169, represents the sefirah of kingdom, because the word “place” (as in “He arrived in the place…”) corresponds directly in Kabbalah with the sefirah of kingdom. The first and second letter fillings total 1521 = 392, where 39 is the value of י־הוה אחד , “God is One” alluding to the 9 sefirot above kingdom, which manifest through it.
1690 has special importance as it is also the product of God’s two Names, Havayah י־הוהand Adni אדנ־י . The location of the Holy Temple is the place where heavens and earth unite; the heavens correspond to the sefirah of beauty and the earth corresponds to the sefirah of kingdom. Indeed, Havayah and Adni are the two names that correspond to beauty and kingdom!
The theme of the entire parshah is that of the masculine unifying with the feminine. This unity is also exhibited mathematically. We already mentioned once that in the Torah, the most important pair of numbers that function as masculine and feminine are 13 (the masculine) and 7 (the feminine). Now we have found that the gematria of the 7th word of our parshah, which is the 7th in the Torah, is 132! Following this lead, if we look at Jacob and Rachel, from whose love the building of the entire house of Jacob begins we see that Jacob’s nameיעקב = 182 is a multiple of both 13 (13 · 14 = 182) and 7 (7 · 26 = 182) and Rachel’s nameרחל = 238 is a multiple of 7 (7 · 34 = 238)!
In the Talmud,3 we find the following passage:
Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Chanina said: the [three daily] prayers were established by the patriarchs…. Abraham established the morning prayer, as it says: “Abraham awoke early [and went] to the place where he had stood…,” and the word “stood” implies prayer…. Isaac established the afternoon prayer, as it says: “And Isaac went out to the field to discourse before the evening,” and the word “discourse” means prayer…. Jacob established the evening prayer, as it says: “He [Jacob] arrived in the place and he slept there,” and the word “arrived” implies prayer.
The sages posit that the seventh word of our parshah, here translated as “arrived,” whose numerical value is 169 = 132, means “prayer” and constitutes Jacob’s establishment of the evening prayer, Arvit. As explained in the Kabbalah, the evening prayer reflects the consummate unification between the masculine and feminine principles, the partzufim ofZe’er Anpin and Nukvah. Thus, this word indeed alludes to the theme and the essence of our entire parshah, the building of the house of Jacob through the union between Jacob, who represents the partzuf of Ze’er Anpin and his wives who represent the partzuf of Nukvah.
The root of ויפגע is פגע = 153, which is also 17. The gematria of the first two words ויצא יעקב is 289 = 172 (and also the numerical value of the second and third words in the Torah,ברא אלהים ). The value of the first two words of the second verse ויפגע במקום is 357 = 17 · 21, or the product of the two Names of God, אהוה (17) and אהיה (21). אהוה is also known as the “good Name” since אהוה = 17, the numerical value of “good” טוב . אהיה is the Name associated with the sefirah of understanding, while אהוה is the Name associated with thesefirah of knowledge, all alluding to the mishnah: “If there is no knowledge there can be no understanding.” The sages say that “there is no good but Torah.” Of the three patriarchs, Jacob is the one who is considered to be the pillar of Torah.4 In the Bible, the bond between a man and a woman is described as “good”: He who has found a woman has found good and produces will from God.”
As we have already seen, the gematria of Rachel רחל (238) is the product of 17 (good, טוב) and 14. Since the difference between 357 (ויפגע במקום ) and 238 (רחל , Rachel) is 119, or half of 238, it follows that 357 is equal to 1 and ½ times the value of רחל , relating Rachel and “He arrived in the place” to the famous whole and a half ratio from Abulafia, which has been discussed here in length.
The number 17 continues to play a central role in Jacob and his son Joseph’s lives. Jacob’s life, as he described to Pharaoh, was full of difficulty. Only the last 17 years of his life, which he spent in Egypt, were good (the good years, 17 = “good” טוב ). This is learnt from the opening verse of parshat Vayechi: “Jacob lived… seventeen years” implying that during these 17 years he “lived.” The first word of Vayechi and the name of the parshah in Hebrew is ויחי , which is equal to 34 = 2 . 17! Earlier, 17 was the pivotal age for Joseph, the year in which he was dreamt his famous dreams and was sold by his brothers into slavery. “These are the offspring of Jacob. Joseph [the son of Rachel] was seventeen years old.”
Amazingly, the numerical value of these words in Hebrew אלה תלדות יעקב יוסף בן שבע עשרה שנה is 2568 = 24 · 107. But, since the value of the name of our parshah, Vayeitzei ויצא is 107, this means that these words that describe Joseph, the progeny of Jacob and Rachel are equal to the value of all 24 possible permutations of ויצא !5
In the annals of the Jewish monarchy there are two kings who ruled for 17 years each, Rachavam, the king of Judah (the son of King Solomon)6 and Yeho’achaz, the king of Israel.7 The numerical sum of their names in Hebrew is רחבעם יהואחז = 357, exactly the value of ויפגע במקום “He arrived in the place” the opening words of the second verse of ourparshah, and as already noted: 357 = 17 (טוב = אהוה ) · 21 (אהיה ).8
Let us take a look at one more mathematical point of interest. Since ויפגע is the 7th word in the 7th parshah, we may surmise that it is related to the square of 7. Its numerical value 169 is the square of 13, as we have seen. We have also seen how strongly the number 17 figures in this verse (ויפגע במקום = 17 · 21). Now, the difference between 132 and 72 is 120. Amazingly, this is exactly the difference between 172 and 132! In other words, the average value of 72, 132 and 172 is 132 = ויפגע !
Based on the Daily Dvar Torah from Sunday, Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5768 – November 11, 2007
1. See Bati Legani 5751.
2. Numbers 23:10.
3. Berachot 26b. In the interest of completeness, it is important to note that the Talmud also voices a second opinion, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s, that the three daily prayers were instituted in correspondence with the daily sacrifices offered in the Tabernacle and the Holy Temple.
4. The sages say: “The world stands on three pillars: on the Torah, on the Service [in the Temple, today prayer], and on acts of loving-kindness” (Avot ???). Acts of loving-kindness of course corresponds to Abraham. Service and prayer correspond to Isaac (Isaac was himself bound as a sacrifice on the altar; the gematria of Isaac and Rivkah’s names together equals the value of “prayer,” in Hebrew: יצחק רבקה = תפלה !). Jacob corresponds to Torah.
5. The name of the parshah in Hebrew is ויצא , which because it has 4 different letters can be permuted in 4! (read as: “4 factorial”) ways; 4! = 1 · 2 · 3 · 4 = 24.
Adding these two verses together and adding the kolel (a method that we do not usually employ, which is why this computation appears in a footnote) we get: אלה תלדות יעקב יוסף בן שבע עשרה שנה ויחי יעקב בארץ מצרים שבע עשרה שנה ┴ 1 = 4760 = 20 · רחל = 280 · 17!
6. 1 Kings 14:21.
7. 2 Kings 13:1.
8. Filling the letters of these two names we get: ריש חית בית עין מם יוד הא וו אלף חית זין = 2184, or 12 times the value of Jacob יעקב (182). 2184 is also twice the value of אלה תלדות ויחי יעקב , the first two words of the two verses that relate the number 17 to Joseph and Jacob, respectively.