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. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Who knows thirty-two?

Please cite/link your sources, if possible. After about one business day, I will:

  • Upvote all interesting answers.

  • Accept the best answer.

  • Go on to the next number.

share|improve this question

13 Answers 13

up vote 4 down vote accepted

32 degrees is the (approximate) latitude of Jerusalem. (Rambam, Hil. Kiddush Hachodesh 11:17)

This information is necessary in order to calculate the moon's visibility and altitude on a given night. The Sanhedrin needed to do this in order to cross-check witnesses' reports of having seen the moon, which would then be used to set the dates of Rosh Chodesh and of the holidays.

share|improve this answer
Checkmark for the world still using the same units for latitude as the Rambam did most of a millenium ago. – Isaac Moses May 7 '10 at 16:08
Yeah, it's a good thing that the French "grad" or "gon" -en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grad_(angle) - never caught on! :) – Alex May 7 '10 at 17:24

Every book of Tanach contains some word with gematria 32 -- except for Song of Songs. Go figure, such a love story, and yet no "heart."

(While Jewish tradition counts Ezra/Nechemiah as one book, each of its halves also contains a 32-word. Each sub-book of Twelve Prophets contains a 32-word, except for Obadiah.)

Thirty-two (cubits) is the length of the "Avnet" (belt or sash) worn by each Kohen during Temple services.

Yes, it's the gematria of "lev"="heart", and the Talmud says that the Avnet atoned for sinful thoughts of the heart. Similarly, I've also heard (don't recall in whose name) that our daily thanks to God for "girding Israel with strength" refers to self-control.

The Malbim explains the role of the Avnet as taking our most animalistic emotions -- lust (מכנסיים) and rage (כותונת) -- and keeping them subdued (sublimated?) deep down in the soul, so they don't bubble up. (I'm not doing justice to Malbim's prose here.)

share|improve this answer
Is there a source that lists these facts about the gematriaos of words in the various sefarim of Tanach (yours here, Chanoch's post in Shisha Ve'esrim about no 26-word in Esther)? I'm curious how you came across this. – Alex May 6 '10 at 17:50
I don't know how Chanoch thought of it to begin with. But I then wrote a computer program to calculate it. Then it's easy to update with the number of your choosing. – Shalom May 6 '10 at 18:08
I originally saw the "no 26-word in Esther" in an article published in the Journal of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists. They had been doing what Shalom describes: using a computer program to compute gematrias in Megillat Esther. – Chanoch May 10 '10 at 2:09

32 are the dotted letters in a Sefer Torah:

  • Gen. 16:5, the second י of וביניך
  • Gen. 18:9, the letters איו of אליו
  • Gen. 19:33, the second ו of ובקומה
  • Gen. 33:4, all letters of וישקהו
  • Gen. 37:12, both letters of את
  • Num. 3:39, all letters of ואהרן
  • Num. 9:10, the ה of רחקה
  • Num. 21:30, the ר of אשר
  • Num. 29:15, the second ו of ועשרון
  • Deut. 29:28, all letters of לנו ולבנינו and the ע of עד

The significance of each of these is explained in Sifri, Behaaloscha sec. 69. Rashi cites most of these explanations in his commentary on the respective verses.

share|improve this answer

32 cubits is the length and width of the base of the Altar in the Second and (soon to be built) Third Batei Mikdash. (Rambam, Hil. Beis Habechirah 2:5)

32 cubits is also the length (measured along the floor, not the slope) of the Altar's ramp. (ibid. 2:13)

share|improve this answer

32 is the greatest number of civil dates that can be part of a single Jewish month.

If a Summer Rosh Chodesh for a 30-day month happens to fall, somewhere in the extreme North or South, on a day when nightfall is before midnight, and if by the following Rosh Chodesh, nightfall has moved to after midnight, then your Jewish month has contact with 32 civil days! Note that this works whether you use sunset or your favorite value for Tzeit (though you don't have to go as far north for the latter).

share|improve this answer
I want an example! – Jeremy May 10 '10 at 14:00
Take Sivan in Reykjavik this year, assuming the day starts and ends 72 minutes after sunset. 1 Sivan starts at 23:42 on May 13. 30 Sivan ends at 01:07 on June 13. May has 31 days, so you're hitting 32 civil days. myzmanim.com/day.aspx?vars=75245600.a78e8f/ver1/5-13-2010/simp/… myzmanim.com/day.aspx?vars=75245600.a78e8f/ver1/6-12-2010/simp/… – Isaac Moses May 11 '10 at 15:10

32 strings in the tzitzis. (Although actually 16, there are 32 hanging from the tassles.)

(Pirush HaGra L'Sefer Yetzirah)

share|improve this answer

32 kings in Israel that Yehoshua killed.

share|improve this answer
I wonder whether that's the correct understanding of the Yalkut, though. It derives the extra "king" from the word "echad," but then that's repeated for each of the other kings too, not just the king of Yericho. And indeed, the version in Bereishis Rabbah (and the corrected version in Yalkut) both mention 62 (31 x 2) rather than 32. – Alex May 6 '10 at 20:41
Wow! That was fast research! – Yahu May 6 '10 at 20:43
There must be a connection between 32 kings of Israel, and 32 kings that Yehoshua killed. (I don't know what that connection is.) – Chanoch May 10 '10 at 2:13

Although Maseches Megillah only has 31 dapim, it has 32 mishnayos.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


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.