Gematria: Daf Yomi #7

In today’s reading, Berakhot 8a-8b, we find many sources of creativity and decision-making with a wide variety of results. Among the tools employed is Gematria, interpretation based on numerical equivalents of Hebrew letters.


In a wide-ranging, scripture-laden discussion about “the time of finding” [לְעֵת מְצֹא, l’eit m’tzo],” a few words are quoted from Psalm 68:21: “issues of death [לַמָּוֶת תֹּצָאוֹת, lamavet totzaot].” This additional teaching is then offered:

It was also taught in a baraita: Nine hundred and three types of death were created in the world, as it is stated: “Issues [totzaot] of death,” and that, 903, is the numerical value [gimatriya] of totzaot.
— Berakhot 8a [Sefaria.org]

Here, just for the record, is the calculation:

ת + ת = 400 + 400
90 = צ
6 + 6 = ו + ו
א = 1
903 = total.

Virtual Jewish Learning mentions a few of the Talmudic teachers who employed Gematria and cites a few examples. My Jewish Learning notes that Gematria “was not central to rabbinic literature,” adding: “The rabbis occasionally employed gematria to help support biblical exegesis, but did not rely on it heavily.”


More on Daf Yomi: Exploring Methods

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s