This Saturday, we are beginning a new Book of the Torah: B’midbar (in the wilderness). The English name of the fourth Book of the Torah is Numbers, because the first thing that B’midbar does is a census. The French name of B’midbar is Nombres (Numbers), the Spanish name of B’midbar is Numeros (Numbers), the Russian name of B’midbar is ЧИСЛА (Numbers).
We are ruled by numbers. I was a track athlete, and I recorded a mile time of 4:19.6 (the world record is 3:43.13), and I keep up with current runner’s times, especially in the mile. Recently, we ordered cartons with flooring, and I am ashamed to tell you what number of cartons we ordered. I put colonial casing in my house (I did it by myself), and I needed to measure accurately.
The Torah has 304,805 letters. The Masoretic Note states the number of verses in Genesis is 1534. (You can look it up in your Hertz Chumash after each of the Books ends.) The Guinness Book of World Records are obsessed by numbers: the longest table tennis game, the largest crowd to blow shofar.
Numbers have a real meaning, from batting averages to votes. Lately, we are besieged by numbers. Twenty-one in Uvalde. Ten in Buffalo. Untold thousands, military and civilian, in the Ukrainian war. Today (Thursday) four people got killed in Tulsa. Many numbers are good (home runs), and many numbers are bad (shooting deaths). We should reduce the bad numbers.