INSIGHT: Numbers Count

Hidden Treasures

Hidden Treasures

“Vi’Ibaditem es Shemam” Moshe exclaimed. “Wipe out the names of idols! But never, ever do the same to HaShem’s name! HaShem’s name must be treated with the utmost respect!”

Speaking of names of HaShem, have you ever heard of the word Shaimos? It means “names,” but it usually refers to the holy names of HaShem. If a book contains HaShem’s name, such as in a Chumash or Siddur, it must be treated with the greatest respect. Some people even kiss the Chumash and Siddur after using it.

Now what happens after a book gets worn out and is no longer usable? Do we throw away these holy books containing HaShem’s name?! No way! Instead, we put the Shaimos into a special place called a Genizah – which literally means “hiding.” Eventually they are to be buried in the ground. But until that happens, they are often collected in the cellar or attic of the local Shul.

The most famous Genizah was located in the attic of the ancient Ben-Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt. There were almost 200,000 pages of handwritten papers going back hundreds of years.

For all that time, it just sat there in the attic collecting dust, until one day in the late 1800s, a university professor and scholar, by the name of Solomon Schechter, decided to transfer them back to where he lived, in Cambridge, England. He spent years trying to put all the fragments of pages together. It was like the biggest jigsaw puzzle in the entire world! But of course, he did not live to finish his work. It’s been over 100 years and due to the vast material in the Cairo Genizah, researchers are still working on this project!

BTW: One of the greatest treasures of the Genizah, was a discovery of books and letters written in the handwriting of the famous Rambam – that’s over 800 years ago!

 

Shazak insight

Numbers Count

 

יט

יח

יז

טז

טו

יד

יג

יב

יא

י

19

18

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

10

 

“Don’t destroy HaShemNumbers Count

’s name” also in numbers!

Here’s how:

Unlike the number system we’re used to (called Arabic numerals), in Hebrew, the letters are also numbers. The system is very logical: Yud = 10; Yud and Aleph = 11… until you get to 15. Look at the above chart. Instead of combining a Yud and Heh to equal 15 (10+5=15), we combine Tes and Vav (9+6=15). Why? Because Yud and Hei spell Hashem’s name, and we could easily erase them without realizing it.

It seems that this custom extended to writing Tes and Zayin (9+7=16), instead of Yud and Vav (1+6=16). This combination is also one of HaShem’s many names (72 to be exact!). Still, it’s not as holy as the Yud-Hay combination, and perhaps for this reason, we do find the Yud-Vov combination in many holy books of old, including in some editions of Rashi.

SHAZAK
Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

Geared for Kids... Great for Adults!

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