23 and 37 in Bereisheet
One of the most important and ubiquitous pairs of numbers (a numerical michlol, in Hebrew) in the Torah in general and in regard to creation in particular is 23 and 37.1 These two numbers are first and foremost the numerical values of the names of the two higher aspects of the soul, called the surrounding aspects (makifim): the singular one, יחידה = 37 and the living one, חיה = 23. Before looking at some of the appearances of these numbers in context of creation let us mention that the soul (especially its two surrounding aspects) is to the body as the light of a sefirah is to its vessel. 23 itself is the numerical value of the word זיו , which means “glow” and is one of the 13 different Hebrew synonyms for “light.” Therefore, in our selection of numerical finding involving 23 and 37 in creation, we have stressed those that relate to light:
- The third verse of the Torah, and hence the third verse of parshat Bereisheet, describes the creation of light. It reads: “God said: ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light” ויאמר אלקים יהי אור ויהי אור and has exactly 23 letters. The numerical value of the word “light” אור itself is 207 = 9 · 23!
- The first and last words of the first three verses of the Torah are: בראשית… הארץ.והארץ… המים. ויאמר… אור “In the beginning… the earth. And the earth… the waters. [God] said… light.” Their gematria is 2070, or the product of 10 and the value of “light” אור , 207. But 2070 is also the product of 90 and 23). 2070 is also 6 multiplied by 345, the value of “Moshe” משה , indicating that the average value of each word is “Moshe.”
- Before light was created, the Torah says: “And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters” ורוח א־להים מרחפת על פני המים . The numerical value of these words is 1369 = 372.
- Finally, the numerical value of the entire first verse: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” בראשית ברא א־להים את השמים ואת הארץ , is 2701, the product of 73 and 37, where 73 is the numerical value of “wisdom,” חכמה .
23 and 37 in Mikeitz
We have already mentioned that parshat Mikeitz is the tenth parshah in the Torah. Thegematria of מקץ “Mikeitz” is 230 = 23 · 10. Even more beautifully, 23 is the tenth prime number, while 37 is the 13th prime number (13 is the 7th prime number, thus revealing another mathematical relationship between these two pairs of numbers).
Let us look at the first verse in our parshah: “It came to pass at the end of two full years that Pharaoh was dreaming, and behold, he was standing by the Nile,” ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים ופרעה חלם והנה עמד על היאר . In a beautiful example of self-reference, the first verse of the 10thparshah has 10 words. This verse also has 37 letters.2
The initials of the first 6 words, ויהי מקץ שנתים ימים ופרעה חלם are ו מ ש י ו ח = 370, or 10 · 37. There is a further case of self-reference here, because 370 is also the value of the first letter filling of the name of the parshah “Mikeitz” מקץ , which is מם קוף צדי .3
Squares and triangles
The gematria of these six words is 1600 = 402. 1600 is also the gematria of a verse that reveals that the redemption, the freeing of Zion, depends on justice and charity: “Zion will be redeemed through justice and her returnees through righteousness” ציון במשפט תפדה ושביה בצדקה .4 Indeed the value of “Zion,” ציון , is exactly equal to the value of “Joseph,” יוסף , revealing an even stronger and more beautiful link between the two verses!
The remaining words in the verse, “And behold he was standing by the Nile” והנה עמד על היאר = 496 = 31, the gematria of “kingdom” or “kingship” (מלכות), thus alluding to the king, to Pharaoh himself.
Thus, the first verse of the parshah divides grammatically and numerically into two units with 6 and 4 words each. The division of 10 into 6 and 4 echoes the filling of the letter yud י , יודwere the three letter complete the equation י = ו ┴ ד , or 10 = 6 ┴ 4.
So now we have found that the 10 words of the first verse of the parshah divide into 6 words whose numerical value is a square number and 4 words whose numerical value is a triangular number. Indeed, this same pattern is found in the 5th and 6th words of the verse, “and Pharaoh was dreaming” ופרעה חלם . “And Pharaoh,” ופרעה = 361 = 192; “was dreaming,” חלם = 78 = 12!
The gematria of the two words “two full years” שנתים ימים is 900, or 302, which in Hebrew notation can be written as לב , the secret of the Jewish mystical heart, as explained elsewhere.5 Because these two words are made up of 9 letters, it follows that the average value of each letter is 100, or 102. But, 100 is exactly the value of the second word “full [years],” ימים .
The numerical value of the rest of the words in the verse (other than “two full years” שנתים ימים ), ויהי מקץ… ופרעה חלם והנה עמד על היאר is 1196, or the product of 23 and 52, or the product of “Havayah,” י־הוה , and “God [of],” א־להי .
The 10th word of the first verse (the 10th word of the 10th parshah6) is “the Nile,” היאר . In Kabbalah, the Nile symbolizes the unveiling of the essential concealment of the light that is contained within the source of all light, the highest aspect of the sefirah of crown. In Hebrew, there are altogether 10 vowel signs, which naturally correspond to the 10 sefirot.7 The vowel sign that corresponds to the crown is the kamatz (ָ ), whose name in Hebrew is spelled קמץ ,8 a permutation of the name of our parshah “Mikeitz,” מקץ !
The value of “the Nile,” היאר , is 216 or 63, a very important number in Kabbalah. In the whole parshah, there are 6 instances of this word, all in reference to Pharaoh’s dream, while in the rest of the Book of Genesis it does not appear at all. The total gematria of this word in our parshah is therefore 6 · 63 = 64 = 362 = 1296. 36 is the value of היאר in ordinal reckoning.
Now, the first word of the Torah and the first word of parshat Bereisheet is בראשית , “In the beginning,” which comprises 6 letters. The Zohar discusses the division of the first word intoברא שית , meaning “[He] created six,” alluding to the six days of creation and the six thousand years that the world will exist in its present state. If we add the value of בראשית (913) to the value of the six appearance of היאר (1296) we get 2209, which is 472, or “selflessness,” בטול, squared, a number that expresses the consummate experience of the sefirah of wisdom, alluding once more to the two wisdoms that make up the number of verses in our parshah, as explained in our first teaching on the parshah.8
Throughout the entire Bible, the word “the Nile” היאר , appears 25 times. The breakup is as follows:
- 6 times in the Book of Genesis (בראשית )
- 15 times in the Book of Exodus (שמות )
- 4 times in the Book of Daniel (דניאל )
If we add the gematria of the Hebrew names of these books together and add to that the value of 25 instances of “the Nile,” היאר , we get 7154, or 49 · 146, where 146 is the number of verses in both parshat Bereisheet and our parshah, Mikeitz.
1. The second most important numerical michlol is 7 and 13, as explained elsewhere.
2. The mathematical signature of a verse is defined as the number of letters times the number of words it contains. In this case, the signature is 10 · 37 = 370, the first filling of the name of the parshah, מקץ , as we shall see.
3. The careful reader will have noticed that we filled the letter צ of מקץ as צדי and not the customary צדיק . Without going into all the historical details, until the time of the Arizal it was customary to fill the letter tzadik as צדי (pronounced: tzadi). However, the Arizal revealed that the word tzadi in Aramaic means “chaos” (see Onkelos’ translation to the Genesis 1:2), while the word tzadik in Hebrew means “a holy and righteous individual.” Thus, the filling צדיis the filling that corresponds with the World of Chaos, while the filling צדיק corresponds to the World of Emanation, the World of Rectification. Of course, in reference to Pharaoh, a source of impurity and spiritual chaos in the world, it is fitting that we use the צדי filling.
4. Isaiah 1:27.
6. See our past teachings on parshat Vayeitzei!
7. See What You Need to Know About Kabbalah, p. 140 for the full correspondence.
8. The letters קמץ allude to the three highest aspects of the crown, whose lights are described as אור קדמון , אור מצוחצח , and אור צח . 3 times the value of “light” אור is equal toכתרא , the Aramaic rendering of “crown.”
9. 47 is also the value of the two words כי טוב , which describe God’s satisfaction with creation in parshat Bereisheet.