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The Significance of The Number Seven

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

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I. Seven In Time. 2

II. Seven In Creation. 4

III. Seven In The Body. 4

IV. Seven In Sound. 5

V. Seven In Light 6

VI. Miscellaneous Sevens. 7

VII. The Seven Rabbinic Commandments. 12

 

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In this study I would like to examine the meaning and significance of the number seven.

 

Nachmanides (12th century Spain) explains a beautiful kabbalistic concept: Seven is the number of the natural world. There are 7 days in the week, 7 notes on the musical scale and 7 directions (left, right, up, down, forward, back and center). “Seven” - represented by the 7 days of Sukkot, is the world of nature. “Eight“, represented by Shemini Atzeret, is that which is beyond nature.

 

The Sages teach that seven are the attributes of physicality:

  1. Height
  2. Width
  3. Depth
  4. Top and bottom (limits height)
  5. Front and back (limits width)
  6. Left and right (limits depth)
  7. The connecting of the other six

 

The Maharal finds that the week itself is based on a primary idea. He attributes the symbolism of six and seven to the structure of space: When you look closely you will find that the physical has six opposing sides, which are: top and bottom, right and left, front and back. All these six sides are related to the physical, because each side has extent, and limits physical objects. But, it also has in it a seventh, and this is the middle, which has no exposure on any side. Because it is not related to any side it is like the non-physical, which has no extension [takes up no volume of space].[1]

 

The cube, as a geometric shape, readily shows these attributes:

 

Six things of equal size, for example circles or apples, exactly fit around a seventh circle (in the center) of the same size. So, if you draw a circle of any particular size, you can draw exactly six circles of the same size around that central circle, no more and no less (if you want them all to touch). This idea relates to the concept that the seventh is actually at the center and is the focus of the other six.

 

The connecting of the six attributes at the center of the shape fundamentally reveals the nature of seven. It is used for connection. This leads naturally to the meaning of ‘seventy’ which is an elevated connection.

 

Nothing can exist in the physical world without these seven attributes, nothing.

 

Every item in the physical world must have these seven attributes and each of these seven must also exhibit the same seven attributes.

 

“If six stands for the physical creation and seven for the spiritual in the midst of the physical (Shabbat), then eight stands for that which is completely outside our world. It stands for the World to Come.”[2]

 

ז, zayin, is the seventh letter in the Hebrew aleph-bet. The gematria, the numerical equivalent, of the letter zayin is seven. The name zayin means “crown.” There are actually crowns, called zayenin,[3] on many of the letters of the aleph-bet. For example, a zayin with it’s tagin, it’s crowns, looks like this: zayin

 

49 is 7 times 7. When you square a number, it reaches its ultimate expression. It is the thing times itself; Nothing can be a greater revelation of essence than that. Thus, 49 is the furthest reach of seven-ness in this world. And seven is this world!

 

This is the meaning of the number forty-nine (49). Therefore, forty-nine, that is seven times seven, is a statement that seven defines physical reality.

 

From this we can understand that music that affects the body has seven notes in an octave (the eighth is a repeat of the first):

Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La Ti, Do

 

This diatonic scale, in the hands of a skilled musician, will affect the body. In fact, if it is done correctly the body will find it nearly impossible to resist such music.

 

The frequencies of such music have a correspondence in the world of color:

 

Royal blue

Do

Scarlet Red

Re

Yellow

Mi

Emerald green

Fa

Orange

So

Violet

La

Purple

Ti

 

Just as the seven notes in the octave can be combined into chords which makes harmonious music, so too can the corresponding colors be combined to form harmonious colors.

 

When the colors of light are combined they form a white light. When the same colors in pigment are combined they form an earth color – brown. This teaches us that the ethereal dimension of light produces white while the physical colors of pigment returns to the physical color of earth.

 

Now that we understand a bit about the nature of seven as it relates to this physical world, lets explore how Shabbat is related to the number seven.

 

I. Seven In Time

 

Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. This is no accident. Shabbat connects the six days of the week. All of the other days revolve around it. It serves as the center for the three days before it and the three days after it.[4] Even though the seventh appears to be the final element in a linear progression, it is actually the core around which everything else revolves.

 

When the Torah wishes to give a name to the first day of the week, it gives it a name that describes it’s relationship to Shabbat, “the first day of Shabbat”, “the second day of Shabbat”, etc. And so it goes for the other six days. The sixth day is called “Erev Shabbat”, the eve of the Sabbath. Thus Shabbat connects the six days of the week. (The chart at the end of this paper illustrates how the days revolve around Shabbat.)

 

When we[5] are called “the nation that sanctifies the Seventh”, we can understand this to refer to the Jewish people sanctifying that which is at the core,  the Shabbat. Shabbat (as well as other “time-sevens” such as the Sabbatical year of Shmita) are about resting and relying on HaShem. This hints to us that the core is about reliance on HaShem, but that the other six, be they days of the week, the six years prior to Shmita, etc. are about a struggle that stays centered on the core.  [Working the six days of the week with an eye toward Shabbat in a way that is holy and spiritual even though it is “ordinary”; working the fields in compliance with Torah, leaving the gleanings, the corners, etc. for six years with the central realization that HaShem is the ultimate Provider not only during the Shmita year, but all of the other years as well]. Zayin seems to speak to us about the tension and paradox between struggle and letting go, finding  balance between our effort, active trust in HaShem and our passive trust in HaShem to provide our needs.

 

The Sages teach us that there are five things that we should strive to accomplish on Shabbat:

  1. Eat the best food of the week.
  2. Engage in marital relations
  3. Rest
  4. Pray
  5. Study Torah

 

Each of these seven is used for connection:

  1. Food connects the soul to the body
  2. Sex connects two physical bodies
  3. Rest allows us to connect with the six days of work
  4. Prayer allows us to connect with HaShem
  5. Torah study allows us to connect with a transcendent world.

 

Seven is also a part of ten (10). Often one will find the number seven juxtaposed with the number ten.

 

Armed with this understanding, lets look in the Torah to begin to see how the Torah uses the number seven. The number seven is first found in:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 5:7 And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:

 

This is where the concept of the number seven, was created.

 

Strong’s defines the Hebrew, sheva (seven), as:

 

7651 sheba`, sheh’-bah; or (masc.)  shib`ah, shib-aw’; from 7650; a prim. cardinal number; seven (as the sacred full one); also (adv.) seven times; by impl. a week; by extens. an indefinite number:-(+ by) seven ([- fold], -s, [-teen, -teenth], -th, times). Comp. 7658.

 

----------------- Dictionary Trace ---------------

7650 shaba`, shaw-bah’; a prim. root; prop. to be complete, but used only as a denom. from 7651; to seven oneself, i.e. swear (as if by repeating a declaration seven times):-adjure, charge (by an oath, with an oath), feed to the full [by mistake for 7646], take an oath, x straightly, (cause to, make to) swear.

 

7658 shib`anah, shib-aw-naw’; prol. for the masc. of 7651; seven:-seven.

 

So, sheva, the Hebrew word for seven, comes from a root which means complete. The number seven represents physical completion.

 

In the Tanach[6] and the Nazarean Codicil, we find the number seven, 463 times in 391 verses.

 

Seven times seven is 'forever' which is why the slave with the awl in his ear serves forever (seven times seven) until the Jubilee year.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 21:5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6  Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

 

Kiddushin 21b AND ACQUIRES HIMSELF BY JUBILEE OR BY HIS MASTER'S DEATH. For it is written: ‘and he shall serve’ him[7] — but not his son or daughter; for ever’ — until the eternity of jubilee.

 

II. Seven In Creation

 

In the story of creation, found in Genesis, we find that the creation of the physical world was markedly formed with seven and its multiples. Even the time of creation is marked by seven:

 

7 days of Creation.

 

In the creation story “God saw” is repeated seven times. Sefer Yetzira explains that these seven repetitions parallel the seven double lettersc d s f p r , (letters which can be pronounced hard or soft) and the seven days of the week. The following is a list of the sevens and their multiples in the creation story of Bereshit (Genesis):

 

35 times God (Elohim) is found.

7 times “On the Earth (Hebrew only)” is found.

21 times “Earth, earth, or land” are found.

7 times “heaven(s), sky (excluding “heavenly sky”)” are found.

7 times “Good” is found.

7 times “Water(s) (beneath the heavens)” are found.

7 times “flying, fly, or birds” are found.

7 times “crawls, walks, land animals” are found.

14 times “day or days” are found.

 

Thus, writes Nachmanides:

 

The first day of creation, which saw the creation of light, embodies the first millennium of history--the millennium of Adam, whom the Midrash Tanchuma calls the light of the world, when the world was still saturated with knowledge of its Creator and was sustained by the indiscriminate benevolence of G-d; the second day, on which the Creator distinguished between the spiritual and the physical elements of His creation, yielded a second millennium of judgment and discrimination--as reflected in the Flood which wiped out a corrupt humanity and spared only the righteous Noah and his family; the third day, on which the land emerged from the sea and sprouted forth greenery and fruit-bearing trees, encapsulates the third millennium, in which Abraham began teaching the truth of the One G-d and the Torah was given on Mount Sinai; the fourth day, on which G-d created the sun and the moon, the two great luminaries: the greater luminary... and the lesser luminary, corresponds to the fourth millennium, in which the First Temple (2928-3338) and the Second Temple (3408-3829) in Jerusalem served as the divine abode from which light emanated to the entire world; the fifth day, the day of fish, birds and reptiles, unfolded into the lawless and predatory Dark Ages of the fifth millennium (240-1240 CE. in the secular calendar); the sixth day, whose early hours saw the creation of the beasts of the land, followed by the creation of man, is our millennium--a millennium marked by strong, forceful empires, whose beastly rule will be followed by the emergence of Mashiach, the perfect man who brings to realization the divine purpose in creation and ushers in the seventh millennium--the World to Come--a time of perfect peace and tranquility.

 

I have written more on this subject in a paper titled: Redemption.

 

There were seven blessings given to Avraham.

There were seven blessings given to Yitzchak.

 

There were seven blessings given to Yaaqov.

 

III. Seven In The Body

 

The body, according to our Sages, is composed of seven major parts, namely: head, torso, right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg, and the Brit Mila (the organ of circumcision).

 

It is also obvious that there are seven openings in the head. Like the menorah, the head has three openings on either side of the centerline of the head, with the mouth in the center.

 

The body is bounded by six sides, yet the spirit connects to, and animates, all of them.

 

IV. Seven In Sound

 

Music speaks to the soul and to the body. When the music is done correctly it “moves” us. The Torah talks about how proper music can make an evil spirit depart:

 

1 Shmuel (Samuel) 16:14-23 But the spirit of HaShem departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from HaShem troubled him. And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, [which are] before thee, to seek out a man, [who is] a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring [him] to me. Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, [that is] cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and HaShem [is] with him. Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which [is] with the sheep. And Jesse took an ass [laden] with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent [them] by David his son unto Saul. And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armor bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray thee, stand before me; for he hath found favor in my sight. And it came to pass, when the [evil] spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

 

Music that “moves” us is music which is based on a seven tone scale. The 1997 World Book Encyclopedia details this for us:

 

Tone is any musical sound of definite pitch. Most music is based on a scale, a particular set of tones arranged according to rising or falling pitch. Western musicians name the tones, or notes, of a scale with the first seven letters of the alphabet--A, B, C, D, E, F, and G (do re mi fa so la ti). The letters are repeated every eight notes. The distance between a note and the next highest note with the same name, such as C to C, is called an octave. The higher note has twice as many vibrations per second as the lower note, and the two notes sound very similar. A note may be raised or lowered slightly in pitch to produce a tone halfway between it and the note next to it. The half tone above a note is called its sharp, and the half tone below a note is called its flat.

 

A chromatic scale consists entirely of half steps. It has twelve notes to an octave, rather than eight. You can hear the chromatic scale if you play all the white and black keys from one C to the next C on a piano. After 1850, composers increasingly used notes from the chromatic scale to make their music more colorful. During the 1920’s, the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg developed a type of music based on this scale. This music, called 12-tone music, has no tonal center.

 

The twelve tone scale was originally a seven tone scale, attributed (in the historical record) to Pythagoras and later to Plato. Pythagoras felt that whole number ratios were universally important, and that musical scales reflected aspects of the universe in important ways.

 

Why were these whole number ratios used? Why couldn’t any old intervals be used? Because they sounded good; they felt good. Musically, such intervals are called consonant. A perfect fifth, the interval from C to G, for example, evokes a very pleasant sensation in our bodies. Other intervals, especially those that cannot be represented by the ratios of two integers, sound dissonant, unpleasing or at least unfinished. Composers use more or less dissonant harmonies in music today to heighten suspense or discomfort. This is especially noticeable in movie soundtracks; If you don’t get the sense of danger or suspense from the visuals, you certainly will get it from the music.

 

Remnants of the seven tone scale still exist today, they are the white keys on a piano. The other five tones were added later, and in fact there was never common agreement about their tuning; there were several “Just” scales, which varied primarily in the intervals of the black keys. The exact ratios were selected by the composer to fit the needs or the mood of the piece being performed.

 

So, music in the past was always based on seven tones. Music based on this seven note scale “moves” the body and the soul. It feels good. Modern music is not always based on this scale. This degradation of music is a reflection of the degradation of the spirit of man, caused by sin. This degradation is found in all of the arts because the arts accurately reflect the soul!

 

V. Seven In Light

 

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The rainbow with its seven colors reflected the beauty and divinity of the seven commandments of the Children of Noah (Noachide):

 

  1. Belief in G-d – do not worship idols.
  2. Respect G-d and praise Him – do not blaspheme His name.
  3. Respect human life – do not murder.
  4. Respect the family – do not commit immoral acts.
  5. Respect for others’ rights and property – do not steal.
  6. Respect all creatures - do not eat the flesh of an animal while it is still alive.
  7. Creation of a judicial system – pursue justice.

 

Beit Lechem

 

The sign of the covenant was the rainbow and it would serve as a permanent symbol of Divine Benevolence. It was the first time the rainbow had ever been seen in the world, although it had been created and readied for this moment at twilight after the sixth day of creation, between the time Adam transgressed and the Sabbath, when G-d rested from all He had made:

 

Avot Chapter 5 MISHNAH 6. TEN THINGS WERE CREATED ON THE EVE OF THE SABBATH AT TWILIGHT, AND THESE ARE THEY: [i] THE MOUTH OF THE EARTH,[8] [ii] THE MOUTH OF THE WELL,[9] [iii] THE MOUTH OF THE SHE-ASS,[10] [iv] THE RAINBOW,[11] [v] THE MANNA, [vi] THE ROD [OF MOSES],[12] [vii] THE SHAMIR,[13] [viii] THE TEXT,[14] [ix] THE WRITING,[15] AND [x] THE TABLES.[16] AND SOME SAY: ALSO THE SEPULCHRE OF MOSES, OUR TEACHER,[17] AND THE RAM OF ABRAHAM, OUR FATHER,[18] AND SOME SAY: ALSO THE DESTROYING [SPIRITS],[19] AND TONGS TOO, MADE WITH TONGS.[20]

 

After the flood, Noah was given seven commandments to observe:

 

Sanhedrin 56a Our Rabbis taught: seven precepts were the sons of Noah commanded: social laws;[21] to refrain from blasphemy, idolatry; adultery; bloodshed; robbery; and eating flesh cut from a living animal.[22]

 

VI. Miscellaneous Sevens

 

Pesikta deRab Kahana, Midrashic Homilies for Shabbat Parah Adumah:[23] R. Hanan bar Pazzi interpreted the cited verse [The sayings of the Lord are pure sayings (Ps. 12:7)] to apply to the pericope of the Red Cow, which contains seven times seven [references to matters of purification, thus:]

seven times is the red cow mentioned,

seven times the burning,

seven times the sprinkling,

seven times the laundering of garments,

seven times the matter of uncleanness,

seven times the matter of cleanness,

seven times the matter of priests.

And if someone should say to you that in fact they are lacking [in not mentioning the priests seven times,] say to him, “Moses and Aaron count.” Now the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron, ‘This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded (Num. 19:1-13, pass.).

 

Seven seas is an ancient term describing all the seas and oceans of the world. Many people believe the seven seas referred to are the Arctic, Antarctic, North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and Indian oceans.

 

* * *

 

There are seven visible moving celestial objects: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Moon, and Sun.

 

* * *

 

The land of Israel is noted for seven species of fruit. It was from these seven that the Bikkurim, the first fruits, were brought:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 8:6-9 Observe the commands of HaShem your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For HaShem your God is bringing you into a good land--a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; A land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; A land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

 

The seven are:

Wheat

Barley

Grapes

Figs

Pomegranates

Olives

Dates

 

Gender

transliteration

Transcription

Hebrew

Feminine

Chita

Wheat

חתה

Feminine

Seora

Barley

שערה

Feminine

Gefen

Vine

גפן

Feminine

Te’ena

Fig

תאנה

Feminine

Rimon

Pomegranate

רמון

Feminine

Zeit Shemen

Olive oil

שמןׄ זית 

Feminine

D’vash

Date Honey

דבש

 

 

* * *

 

The Golden Gate is one of seven entrances to the Old City that is currently blocked but will be opened when the Mashiach arrives.

 

* * *

 

Noah brought seven of each clean male animal and seven of each clean female animal:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 7:1-2 And HaShem said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that [are] not clean by two, the male and his female.

 

* * *

 

“The shiva, the seven day period of mourning following a relative’s burial was also observed by Jacob’s family:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 50:7-10 And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company. And they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which [is] beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.

 

Strikingly, though common sense (and modern psychology) supports this notion of devoting seven days to deep mourning after a great personal loss, Jewish tradition does not see the mourners as the primary beneficiaries of the shiva period. Instead, the Talmud explains that the soul of the deceased hovers over the body for seven days, and the specter of people mourning over the body it formerly inhabited helps ease the soul’s pain”:

 

Talmud - Shabbath 152a R. Isaac also said: Worms are as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living, for it is said, But his flesh upon him hath pain.[24] R. Hisda said: A man’s soul mourns for him [after death] seven whole [days]. for it is said, And his soul mourneth for him;[25] and it is written, and he made a mourning for his father seven days.[26]

 

Rab Judah said: If there are none to be comforted for a dead person.[27] ten people go and sit in his place.[28] A certain man died in the neighborhood of Rab Judah. As there were none to be comforted, Rab Judah assembled ten men every day and they sat in his place. After seven days he [the dead man] appeared to him in a dream and said to him, ‘Thy mind be at rest, for thou hast set my mind at rest.’ R. Abbahu said: The dead man knows all that is said in his presence until the top-stone [golel] closes [the grave].[29] R. Hiyya and R. Simeon b. Rabbi differ therein: one maintains, until the top-stone closes [the grave]; whilst the other says, until the flesh rots away. He who says, until the flesh rots away. — because it is written, But his flesh upon him hath pain and his soul within him mourneth.[30] He who says, until the top-stone closes [the grave]. — because it is written, and the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God.[31]

 

And why was Noah in the ark for seven days before it rained?

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 7:1-5 HaShem then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, And also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.” And Noah did all that HaShem commanded him.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Bereshit (Genesis) XXXII:7. AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THE SEVEN DAYS (VII, 10). This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave them a respite during the seven days’ mourning for the righteous Methusaleh, so that they might repent, yet they did not.

 

* * *

 

There are two festivals which are celebrated for seven days: Pesach (Passover) and Hag HaSuccoth (The Feast of Tabernacles):

 

Shemot (Exodus) 23:15 “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month HaShem’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.

 

Tisha B’Av will also become a seven day festival. The Prophet Zechariah said:

 

Zechariah 8:19 Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall become times of joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts to the house of Judah; ...

 

Rav Tzadok haKohen of Lublin made a very brief but important comment on this idea, explaining that when Mashiach comes the Ninth of Av will indeed become a holiday like Pesach and Succoth,  a seven-day festival ending on the Fifteenth of Av (Pri Zaddik, D’varim 20b).

 

If the first day of Pesach is parallel to Tisha B’Av, perhaps the Fifteenth of Av may be paralleled with the Seventh Day of Pesach. On the Seventh Day of Pesach, the Jews stood between the Sea and an army of Egyptians.

 

* * *

 

In Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-13:59 we read: “And HaShem said to Moshe saying: Speak to the children of Israel saying: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be t’me’ah for seven days, like by the days of niddah (menstruation)[32]. The Baal haTurim comments that the separation for seven days which is like niddah (the Torah calls for seven days of separation, as evidenced by this verse; current observance of the niddah laws follows Rabbinic injunction which calls for an additional five days) is comparable to the seven days of mourning. This idea has its origin in the Zohar, and is understandable regarding niddah: The concept of mourning for seven days is man’s response to death, and the period of mourning is one of separation from society. The reference to the number seven should alert us to a possible connection with the seven days of creation. Karhah said: Only two entered the bed, and seven left it: Cain and his twin sister, Abel and his two twin sisters[33]. We may now understand why the separation period following the birth of a daughter is twice as long as the seven-day period described thus far: After the birth of a girl, the mourning for our mortality and pain is that much greater, for the child born is not only the victim of mortality but also the transmitter, as it were. And HaShem said to Moshe saying: ‘Speak to the children of Israel saying: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a male, she shall be t’me’ah for seven days, like by the days of niddah (menstruation)... The number eight represents that which is beyond the physical, beyond the seven days of “nature”. The laws of niddah detail the counting of seven “clean days” prior to immersion in the mikveh, which is referred to as “mayim hayim,” literally, ‘living water’ or ‘water of life’. The Zohar[34] compares the counting of the seven clean days with this counting of the seven weeks of the omer. Just as a woman then has to count seven days, so now HaShem bade the Israelites count days for purity. The woman had to count seven days, the people seven weeks. Why seven weeks? That they might be worthy to be cleansed by the waters of that stream which is called “living waters,” and from which issue seven Sabbaths. Observe that any man who does not count those seven complete weeks so as to qualify himself for purity is not called “pure” and is not in the class of “pure”, nor is he worthy to have a portion in the Torah. “

 

We count seven complete cycles of seven for both the omer and the yovel (jubilee) year:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

 

Here, we are instructed to count seven complete weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. Unlike the counting of Sabbatical years, which is the obligation exclusively of the Beit Din Gadol (Sanhedrin), the counting of these seven weeks applies to the entire nation:

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:8-10 “‘Count off seven sabbaths of years--seven times seven years--so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.

 

Most of this parsha is dedicated to a discussion of the Shmita laws, a bulwark of legislation that demanded that all soil in the land of Israel lie fallow once every seven years. In addition to this seven year Shmita cycle, there was also a 49 year, seven Shmita cycle, which culminated in the yovel year.

 

* * *

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26, reveals one word which is repeated time after time to describe the type of behavior which would lead to destruction: “If you walk after me “b’keri”, and not listen to Me...(26:21) The term “b’keri” is used no less than seven times within a short span of text in this portion (21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 40, 41), and never mentioned again in the entire Torah. “

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:41 And [that] I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:

 

* * *

 

There is an opinion that the Torah consists of seven books:

 

Talmud Shabbath 116a “Nahmani, in R. Jonathan’s name, agrees: She [Wisdom] hath hewn out her seven pillars: this refers to the seven Books of the Torah.

 

The seven “pillars of wisdom” in the book of Proverbs refer to the seven books of the Torah.[35] This corresponds to Bamidbar (Numbers), which makes up the seven Books of the Law.[36]

 

Bamidbar 10:35-36 These two pasukim are surrounded with upside down nuns. Chazal explain that these upside down nuns serve to mark off these two pasukim as a separate book onto itself.

 

The Midrash explains that there are, indeed, seven books: 1-B’reishit, 2-Shmot, 3-Vayikara, 4-Bamidbar - up to but not including these two verses, 5-these two verse, 6-the rest of Bamidbar, 7-D’varim.

 

* * *

 

Zohar Vayikra 34b: When R. Hizkiah was once studying with R. Eleazar, he asked him: ‘How many lights were created before the world was created?’ He answered: ‘Seven: namely, the light of the Torah, the light of Gehenna, the light of the Garden of Eden, the light of the Throne of Glory, the light of the Temple, the light of repentance, the light of the Messiah.

 

Hakhel

 

Once every seven years the entire Jewish people, every man, woman, and child as well as resident aliens were commanded to go up to Jerusalem. There the king would read from portions of Deuteronomy that focused primarily on the relationship and covenant between HaShem and the nation. The purpose of all this was so that the people “will hear and so that they will learn and they shall fear the HaShem your G-d.”:

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 31:10-13 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, When all Israel comes to appear before HaShem your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. Assemble the people--men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns--so they can listen and learn to fear HaShem your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear HaShem your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

 

* * *

 

“All sevens are dear.” – (The Sages)

 

Seven heavens.

 

Seven shepherds: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph, and David.

 

The seventh day of Creation - Shabbat.

 

Seven consecutive months in which fall the three Festivals.

 

The seventh millennium.

 

Seven chambers of Paradise.

 

Seven lamps of the menorah

 

 Seven categories of Jewish souls.

 

Seven circuits, seven blessings, and seven days of

celebration of groom and bride.

 

Seven “eyes” of G-d watch over all Creation.

 

Seven lower sefirot.

 

Tishrei, the seventh month

 

Sukkot Seven clouds of glory

 

Simchat Torah - Seven Hakafot.

 

 

VII. The Seven Rabbinic Commandments

 

1. Saying a blessing before experiencing any worldly pleasure.

 

2. Washing hands before a meal

 

3. Lighting Sabbath and Festival candles

 

4. Saying the Hallel psalms of praise

 

5. Lighting Chanukah candles

 

6. Reading the Megillah on Purim

 

7. Establishing Sabbath travel boundaries

 

* * *

 

Berachoth 29a To what do the seven blessings said on Sabbath[37] correspond? — R. Halefta b. Saul said: To the seven voices mentioned by David [commencing with] ‘on the waters’.[38]

 

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVENS!

 

1.               Shabbat is the 7th day of the week.

2.               There are 7 weeks in the counting of the Omer before Shavuot. (Leviticus 23:15)

3.               In Israel, there are 7 days of Passover and Succoth. (Leviticus 23:6, 34)

4.               Every 7th year, the land lays fallow during Shmita (Sabbatical year). (Leviticus 25:4)

5.               After 7 cycles of Shmita, we have a Jubilee year (Yovel). (Leviticus 25:8)

6.               When a close relative dies, we sit Shiva for 7 days.

7.               On Succoth we shake 7 species - 1 Lulav, 1 Etrog, 2 willows, and 3 myrtles.

8.               Yitro (Jethro), the first real convert to Judaism, had 7 different names, and 7 daughters (one who married Moses).

9.               Moses was born and died on the same day - the 7th of Adar.

10.            Our Succah huts are “visited” by 7 guests - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David.

11.            The Menorah in the Temple had 7 branches.

12.            Achashverosh, King of Persia during the miracle of Purim, held a party for 7 days. (Esther 1:5)

13.            There are 7 holidays in the Jewish year: Yom Teruah, Yom HaKippurim, Succoth, Chanukah, Purim, Passover, and Shavuot.

14.            In addition to the 613 Commandments, the Sages added 7 more.

15.            There are 7 Noachide Laws pertaining to all humanity.

16.            At every Jewish wedding, 7 blessings are recited (Sheva Brachot).

17.            Each Shabbat, 7 people are called to the Torah reading (Aliyot).

18.            The first verse in the Torah contains 7 words (and 28 letters).

19.            Our Matriarch Leah had 7 children - six sons and one daughter.

20.            There were 7 days of preparation for the construction of the Tabernacle in the desert. (Leviticus 8:35)

21.            Traditionally, the bride circles the groom 7 times under the Chuppah (wedding canopy).

22.            We wind the Tefillin straps around the arm 7 times.

23.            Moses was the 7th generation after Abraham.

24.            Each plague in Egypt lasted 7 days.

25.            In Pharaoh’s dreams there were 7 cows and 7 stalks of grain. (Genesis 41)

26.            The Biblical contamination period typically lasts 7 days. (Leviticus 13:4)

27.            God created 7 levels of heaven. (Hence the expression, “I’m in 7th heaven!”)

28.            On Shabbat and holidays, we recite 7 blessings in the silent Amida.

29.            There are 7 special species of produce by which the Land of Israel is praised: wheat, barley, grapes, pomegranates, figs, olives, and dates. (Deut. 8:8)

30.            The world has 7 continents.

31.            The 7 weeks of the Omer correspond to the 7 “sefirot,” the 7 behavior traits in which we serve God: kindness, strength, beauty, triumph, splendor, foundation, and kingship.

32.            Noah sent the dove and the raven out of the Ark for 7 days to inspect the weather conditions. (Genesis 8:10)

33.            7 nations warred with Israel: Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites.

34.            On Yom Kippur, the High Priest sprinkled the blood in the Temple 7 times. (Leviticus 16)

35.            The Jewish New Year of Rosh HaShana occurs, surprisingly, in the 7th month -- Tishrei. (Leviticus 23:24)

36.            The Jewish calendar has a cycle of intercalation that contains 7 leap years during each 19-year period.

37.            There are 7 notes on the musical scale.

38.            A Kohen (priest) should participate in the burial of 7 relatives: father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, and spouse. (Leviticus 21:2)

39.            We dance 7 circles (Hakafot) on the holiday of Simchat Torah.

40.            The smallest allowable dimension of a Succah is 7 cubits by 7 cubits.

41.            The world has 7 seas.

42.            Joshua led the Jewish People around the walls of Jericho 7 times before the walls fell. (Joshua 6:15)

43.            Jacob worked for Laban for 7 years (twice) in order to marry his daughters. (Genesis 29:27)

44.            The Holy Temple contained 7 gates of entry.

45.            We recite 7 blessings every day before and after the “Shema” -- 3 in the morning and 4 at night.

46.            The Talmud lists 7 female prophets: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Avigail, Chuldah, and Esther.

47.            A Jewish servant regains freedom after working for 7 years. (Exodus 21:2)

48.            We conclude our Yom HaKippurim prayers by proclaiming7 times, “The Lord is God!”

49.            A Jewish wedding is followed by 7 days of celebration (Sheva Brachot).

 


 


THE YEAR

The sun swings across the horizon as a pendulum through twelve gates and seven annual doors

 

Tuesday 3rd day

Monday 2nd day

Sunday 1st day

Shabbat 7th day

Friday 6th day

Thursday 5th day

Wednesday 4th day

 

 

 

 

Gate 4 – South

Summer Solstice

 

Sartan – crab

Tammuz - O

Judah (Reuben)

 

Gate 3

 

Teomaim – twins

Sivan - N

Levi (Zebulon)

 

 

Gate 5

 

Aryeh – lion

Av - P

Issachar (Simeon)

Gate 2

 

Shaur – bull

Iyar - M

Simeon (Issachar)

 

 

Gate 6

 

Bethulah – virgin

Elul - Q

Zebulon (Gad)

Gate 1 – East

Spring Equinox

Toleh – ram

Nisan - L

Reuben (Judah)

 

 

Gate 7 – West

Fall Equinox

Meoznaim – scales

Tishrei - Y

Benjamin (Ephraim)

Gate 12

 

Dagim – fishes

Adar - \

Joseph (Naftali)

 

 

Gate 8

 

Aqurav – scorpion

Cheshvan - Z

Dan (Manasseh)

Gate 11

 

Deli– water bearer

Shevat - b

Asher (Asher)

 

 

Gate 9

 

Keshet – rainbow

Kislev - [

Naftali (Benjamin)

 

 

 

 

Gate 10 – North

Winter Solstice

 

Ghedi – goat

Tevet - a

Gad (Dan)

 

Mars

מאדים

Madim

Moon

לבנה

 Lavanah

Sun

חמה

 Chamah

Saturn

שבתאי

Shabbtai

Venus

נוגה

Nogah

Jupiter

צדק

Zedek

Mercury

כוכב

 Kokah

God created dry land

 

Hashem created plants.

God separated waters above from waters below.

God created the heavens and earth and separated light from darkness.

 

 

 

God Rested.

God created animals.

 

God created men.

God created birds and fishes.

God created the sun, moon, and stars.

The brass laver

The Mishkan’s veil.

The Mishkan’s covering.

The world is finished and so is the Mishkan.

Aaron.

The cherubim.

The Menorah.

Year 3

Rishon was given to the Levites and Priests

 

And ani was given to the poor.

 

 

rishon & ani

Year 2

Rishon was given to the Levites and Priests

 

Sheni was taken to Jerusalem and eaten.

 

rishon & sheni

Year 1

Rishon was given to the Levites and Priests

 

Sheni was taken to Jerusalem and eaten.

 

rishon & sheni

Year 7

Sabbatical

The tithe was not collected from agricultural products on the SEVENTH YEAR because the land was to lay fallow

Year 6

Rishon was given to the Levites and Priests

 

And ani was given to the poor.

 

 

rishon & ani

Year 5

Rishon was given to the Levites and Priests

 

Sheni was taken to Jerusalem and eaten.

 

rishon & sheni

Year 4

Rishon was given to the Levites and Priests

 

Sheni was taken to Jerusalem and eaten.

 

rishon & sheni

Darshan / Maggid

Sheliach Bet Din / Sheliach Tzibur

Baal Masorah / Masoret

Moreh / Meturgeman

Parnas / Shamash

Parnas / Shamash

Parnas / Shamash

Tiferet

(Beauty)

Din

(Judgment)

Hesed

(Kindness)

Shekinah

(Presence)

Yesod

(Foundation)

Hod

(Glory)

Netzach

(Victory)

It all hinges on the number seven.

 

The tribes and their months are taken from the Sefer Yetzira, by Aryeh Kaplan. Without parenthesis are according to Exodus. Those tribe with parenthesis are from Numbers.

 

 

 


For a chart of sevens, please refer to: 7chart.

 


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

Return to The WATCHMAN home page

Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

 



[1] Gevurot Hashem 46

[2] Strive for Truth, by Rabbi Eliyahu E. Dessler, volume II, page 151.

[3] According to Torah law, the following seven letters (known by the acronym shatnez getz שעטזגץ) must be written with crowns: shin - ש, ayin - ע, tet - ט, nun - נ, zayin - ז, gimmel - ג, tzaddik - צ.

[4] That is one reason why a person can make Habdalah up until Tuesday night, the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday following that Shabbat are still connected to it.

[5] Am Israel

[6] An acronym for Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim. This is how Jews call the collection of books known as the Old Testament.

[7] Shemot (Exodus) 21:6

[8] Num. XVI, 30, And if the Lord shall (be found to) have created a (special) creation and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them (i.e. Qorach and his confederates) up, with all that appertain unto them . . ‘ .

[9] Either the mouth of the well in the rock which Moses opened by striking the rock (Num. XX, 7-11), or the mouth of the Well of Miriam which followed the Israelites in the wilderness and which halted when they encamped, and which is taken by some to be the well referred to in Num. XXI, 16-18.

[10] V. Num. XXII, 28, And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam . . .

[11] V. Gen. IX, 13ff.

[12] V. Ex. IV, 17.

[13] In Bibl. Heb. thorn, also flint used for engraving. In Rabbinic literature it also denotes a legendary worm or insect which by passing over stones could make an incision for an engraving or split them through completely. Such an assumption was deemed necessary in view of the command that no iron tool be lifted at the building of an altar to God (Ex. XX, 22) and, of the report in I Kings VI, 7, that in fact no such tool was heard during the building of Solomon’s Temple.

[14] So M. and R. Jonah. And the Lord said unto Moses: Come up to Me into the mount, and be there; and I will give thee the tables of stone, and the law and the commandment which I have written. . — (Ex. XXIV, 12.) i.e., God had already once written the Law before he called Moses into the mount. B. and others, ‘the shape of the written characters’ on the Tables which were held to have been of an unique nature in that the letters having been cut right through the stone, were not only equally readable on both sides, but a letter such as the ancient ‘Ayin which was O-shaped-could, in such circumstances, have been possible only by miracle (v. Shabbat 104a). This belief was based on Ex. XXXII, 15: tables that were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

[15] Ex. XXXII, 16, and the writing was the writing of God. Others (e.g. Rashi) vocalize, here in the Mishnah, the writing or engraving instrument.

[16] Ibid. And the tables were the work of God.

[17] Deut. XXXIV, 6.

[18] I.e., It was ordained on the eve of the First Sabbath at twilight that a certain ram in Abraham’s time should be ‘ownerless’ (hefker), so that when Abraham should require one as a surprise-substitute for Isaac, he might find one ready at hand which he could rightfully (i.e, without robbing anyone) appropriate for a sacrifice (L.).

[19] Est. VII, 4 (also Dan, VI, 3; Ezra IV, 13, 15, 22, Aramaic) i.e., those who cause injury, do harm, destroy. Demons. Souls unfinished before the First Sabbath set in.

[20] The idea is: There must have been tongs to hold the iron from which the first man-made tongs were forged. V. Pes. 54a, where it is suggested that the first tongs could have been cast in a mold. The parallels mention some other Sabbath-eve creations such as the rod of Aaron (Num. XVII, 16 ff), the garment of Adam (Gen. III, 21), the cave in which Moses and Elijah stood when God revealed himself to them. (Ex. XXXIII, 22; I Kings XIX, 9 ff.) With reference to the things enumerated in the Mishnah, Singer (P.B. p. 200) remarks: ‘All phenomena that seemed to partake at once of the natural and the supernatural were conceived as having had their origin in the interval between the close of the work of creation and the commencement of the Sabbath.’ It is generally held that what is meant is that these things were created on the Sabbath eve at twilight, in posse, to become available in esse when the right time for their use would arrive.

[21] I.e., to establish courts of justice, or, perhaps, to observe social justice (Nachmanides on Gen. XXXIV, 13): Hast. Dict. (s.v. Noachian precepts) translates ‘obedience to authority’.

[22] These commandments may be regarded as the foundations of all human and moral progress. Judaism has both a national and a universal outlook in life. In the former sense it is particularistic, setting up a people distinct and separate from others by its peculiar religious law. But in the latter, it recognizes that moral progress and its concomitant Divine love and approval are the privilege and obligation of all mankind. And hence the Talmud lays down the seven Noachian precepts, by the observance of which all mankind may attain spiritual perfection, and without which moral death must inevitably ensue. That perhaps is the idea underlying the assertion (passim) that a heathen is liable to death for the neglect of any of these. The last mentioned is particularly instructive as showing the great importance attached to the humane treatment of animals; so much so, that it is declared to be fundamental to human righteousness.

[23] Bamidbar (Numbers) 19:1 – 20:13

[24] Job XIV, 22.

[25] Job XIV, 22.

[26] Gen. L, 10.

[27] I.e., there are no mourners. Lit., ‘a dead person for whom there are no comforters’.

[28] Where he died, and engage in religious exercises such as prayer and study.

[29] R. Tam. Rashi: until the coffin-lid is closed, v. Nazir, Sonc. ed., p. 302, n. 5’

[30] I.e., he suffers pain and grief — a sign of consciousness — as long as his flesh is upon him.

[31] Eccl. XII, 7. I.e., immediately the dust — sc. the body — returns to the earth, the spirit returns to God, and there is no further consciousness of earthly matters.

[32] Niddah 31b

[33] Bereshit Rabbah 22:2

[34] Vayikra 97 a-b

[35] Bereshit Rabbah 64:8

[36] Midrash Rabbah, Bereshit (Genesis) LXIV:8

[37] In the Tefilah, instead of the eighteen on week-days. V. P.B. 136-142.

[38] Ps. XXIX, 3.