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Two's A Crowd

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Even Numbers Causing Spiritual Damage

Yael from Montreal, Quebec wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Why are even numbers said to come from unholy spheres?

Sam Miller wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

On behalf of myself and my fellow students at two Talmud classes in Jerusalem, I submit the following: The Talmud states that a second cup of wine is dangerous. Rashi explains that this second cup constitutes "zugot" (pairs) which cause damage by demons. Please clarify the concept of "zugot" and explain why, if pairs are considered a bad omen, we use two loaves of challa on Shabbat?


Dear Sam Miller and Yael,

There is a concept that zugot, pairs, can cause spiritual damage. The basic idea behind this is that even numbers are based on the number two while odd numbers are based on the number one. The number one represents the omnipotence of G-d, while the number two represents heresy, the disbelief in the omnipotence of G-d. Impure forces have no power against a person meditating on the omnipotence of G-d, so while someone does an activity based on the number one, the "demons" can't do anything to him, as his soul (or sub-conscience, if you will) is aware of G-d's Omnipotence.

Therefore, the danger of zugot doesn't apply when doing a mitzvah, such as eating challa Friday night. When a person performs a mitzvah, he does so because of his belief in G-d and is thus protected from these negative influences.

Furthermore, the Talmud implies that zugot only harm someone who is concerned with them. The Shulchan Aruch does not even mention zugot as a prohibition.

Sources:

  • Tractate Berachot, 51b
  • Tractate Pesachim 110a
  • Rabbeinu Bechaye in "Shulchan Shel Arbah" citing Midrash Talpiot


 
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