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Topic: Numbers, Meaning

Joyce Belford wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I am wondering if you could tell me what the meaning of the different numbers are, such as five, twelve, eight, nine...etc. Actually, I am wondering about the numbers from 1-12.

Dear Joyce Belford,

The answer to your question is found at the end of the Passover Haggada in the song "Echad Mi Yodea." There, each number is related to a concept; each concept is the main principle symbolized by its co-related number. In short:

  1. The Unity of G-d
  2. The covenant between G-d and the Jewish People.
  3. The merit of our Patriarchs: Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
  4. The merit of our Matriarchs: Sara, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.
  5. The Written Torah, expressed in the Five Books of Moses.
  6. The Oral Torah, expressed in the Six Orders of the Mishna.
  7. The Creation of the physical existence in seven days.
  8. The spiritual sphere - symbolized by circumcision.
  9. Reproduction and fruitfulness - expressed by the nine months of pregnancy.
  10. The Ten Commandments - an elaboration on the covenant between us and Hashem. Ten generally symbolizes completeness, the unification of disparate parts.
  11. The heavenly bodies. As 10 represents completeness, 11 represents infinity, expressed by the seemingly infinite universe. Eleven is also associated with the number of planets in our solar system, including the sun and moon.
  12. The Jewish People as expressed by the 12 tribes; the 12 tribes also parallel the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac.
  13. The 13 Divine Attributes of Divine Mercy.

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