Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The gemara in nazir learns that an unspecified nezirut is 30 days long from the pasuk "kadosh yihyeh" with yihyeh having gematria 30. Can anyone think of other places where halachot are learned from gematria? I'm looking for rishonim and earlier.

share|improve this question
add comment

5 Answers

In the Yerushalmi (Shekalim 1:3), Rav Yochanan ben Zakkai's position that the tribe of Levi was obligated to give the annual half-Shekel Temple tax is derived from the verse (Exodus 30:13) זה יתנו where זה is 12 in Gematria, implying all 12 tribes need to give the tax. Rambam (Shekalim 1:7) rules like this opinion.

share|improve this answer
add comment

There are lots of examples of this in Sefer Kol-Bo (c. 14th century). One such example, brought in §122, concerns the halakha that a convert will only be accepted if s/he agrees to observe the entire Torah. This is learnt out from Psalm 146:7-9, as follows:

ה' מתיר אסורים, ה' פוקח עורים, ה' זוקף כפופים, ה' אוהב צדיקים, ה' שומר את גרים: ראשי התיבות הללו לבד מהשמות עולין תרי"ג. מכאן אמרו גר הבא להתגייר על מנת לקבל כל המצוות חוץ מאחת, אין מקבלין אותו, דלא נשלם מנין תרי"ג. ולכך כתוב את גרים, להשלים המנין.

"The Lord releases captives, the Lord opens the eyes of the blind, the Lord straightens the bent, the Lord loves the righteous, the Lord guards converts (שומר את גרים)": the first letters, excluding the divine names, produce [by gematria] 613. From here it is said that one who comes to convert on condition that he accepts all of the mitzvot except for one, we do not accept him, for that doesn't equal the number 613. It is for this reason that it is written, את גרים (et gerim; with the DDOM), in order to complete the number.

(In the other four examples, there is no DDOM [definite direct object marker = את] between the verb and the noun. Were the word את to be missing from the fifth phrase as well, the gematria would equal 612. The inclusion of that extra aleph raises it to 613.)

share|improve this answer
add comment

One of the first Tosafot in Gitin brings that the reason the Get has 12 lines is because the Gimtarya of Get is 12.

share|improve this answer
    
:) It took you guys 18 months to find this one! –  Double AA May 13 '13 at 18:26
2  
It took me 18 months to find this question! –  Hacham Gabriel May 13 '13 at 20:01
    
@DoubleAA you knew this before asking your question? Why ask the question then? (i'm joking of course) –  Yehoshua May 17 '13 at 11:57
add comment

The Rabbis learn out that there are 39 Melachot because of a numerical value (kind of). From here (or here, if that link doesn't work), quoting Talmud Shabbat 70A:

...it says, (Shemot 35:1-2) And Moshe gathered together the entire congregation of the Children of Israel and he said to them: 'Eileh HaDevarim' (these are the things--plural) that HaShem Commanded to do them. Six days you shall do “Melacha” (creative physical activity[9]--singular), and on the seventh day, it will be to you holy, a Shabbat of Shabbats for HaShem; anyone who performs during its course (the seventh day) “Melacha”, will die.

"Devarim"; "HaDevarim"; "Eileh HaDevarim" (these are three individual superfluities of language,[10] each evoking a hermeneutic interpretation).

RaShI

"Devarim" implies (due to its plural form at least) 2;

"HaDevarim" implies (due to its being an “article” indicating specificity) 1;

"Eileh" has a numerical value of ("Aleph" = 1; "Lamed" = 30; "Heh" = 5) 36.

 Altogether, 2 + 1 + 36 = 39.

These (the antecedents of “Eileh HaDevarim”, which we assume Moshe was informing the Jewish people about concerning the manner by which they were to observe Shabbat) are the 39 "Melachot" that were told to Moshe at Sinai.

share|improve this answer
1  
And the Yerushalmi (Shabbos 7:2) provides another possible way to derive this, also gematria-based: since ה and ח are often interchangeable (both being gutturals, and shaped similarly), the word אלה can be read as though it were אלח, which equals 39. –  Alex Nov 24 '11 at 22:25
    
And by the way IIUC there is plenty of reason to suspect that this is not the original source but a parperet hachochma. –  Double AA May 13 '13 at 17:15
add comment

The g'mara in Mo'ed Katan 28 derives that the age of "death at the hands of heaven" is 60 from the pasuk

תָּבוֹא בְכֶלַח אֱלֵי קָבֶר כַּעֲלוֹת גָּדִישׁ בְּעִתּוֹ

in which the bold word has the numerical value of 60, yielding the interpretation

You will come to the grave at 60, like a stack that goes in its proper time

I am not sure if this satisfies the criterion "halacha" in the question, but based on the context of the g'mara (regarding specific ages of death being consequences of sins) I think an argument could be made.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.