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Who knows thirty-six?

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.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

36 are each generation's "special righteous people."

Sanhedrin 97b: "Said Abayey, in any given generation, the world never has less than 36 righteous who receive the Divine presence ... with a clear perception."

Interestingly, if you flip back one page and check Rashi (Sanhedrin 96b), he quotes from Chulin 92a: "There are 45 righteous people in whose merit the world is upheld."

Assuming the 36 are a subset of the 45, that means there are nine righteous people who don't perceive the Divine presence, yet their merit is needed to sustain the world. I wonder what those people are like.

In Hassidic lore there are 36 hidden righteous people ("lamed-vav tzadikim nistarim", or just "lamed-vavniks"). Does anyone know the first written source of this? I assume it's connected to the above Gemara.

I heard there's some organization in Israel that awards people with the "lamed-vavnik hidden righteous person medal." Don't ask me how that one works.

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must be a secret ballot and also secret award – Jeremy May 12 '10 at 17:37
Checkmark for ... I'm not telling. – Isaac Moses May 13 '10 at 16:00
"checkmark" in anticipation of #45 ;) – Yirmeyahu May 14 '10 at 3:31

36 hair follicles (a square, 6 x 6) is the minimum size for a tzaraas spot to have any halachic significance (Mishnah, Negaim 6:1).

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36 months between leap-months (in most cases).

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and similar, but unrelated: 37 months in the standard triennial cycle. (just in case I forget by tomorrow) – Jeremy May 12 '10 at 16:10

36 is the gematria of chay'im.

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I think you mean either 68 or chayayim. – Isaac Moses May 12 '10 at 16:30
wouldn't chayayim be 46? (chet-yud-hay)*2 – Jeremy May 12 '10 at 16:49
I think he meant two "chais" = 2 x 18. Just because "chai" x 2 = "chaim", doesn't mean Gematria("chai") x 2 = Gematria("chaim") – Shalom May 12 '10 at 16:49
Shalom's gotta be right. That is exactly what I thought he meant in the first place. – Yahu May 12 '10 at 17:19
Yes, that's what I meant, but with a nice mix of functional form and English punctuation to make the point. – Isaac Moses May 12 '10 at 18:19

36 are the days it took Moshe to explain the Torah (in Eiver HaYardein) (Alef Shevat until Vav Adar)

Seder Olam Rabbah, Perek 10


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The gemora in Sotah 13a says that 36 crowns were hung on the coffin of Ya’akov by the kings of various nations.

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36 full Tractates that have Gemarah on them.


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Plus half of Tamid. – Alex May 13 '10 at 19:32
See my edit. Thanks. – Yahu May 13 '10 at 19:45

36 is the number of hours that Adam HaRishon was exposed to the light of creation which was hidden away (or haganuz) - 12 hours from the time he was created at noon of Friday until he sinned right before Shabbos, and 24 hours of Shabbos. (Rabbeinu Yehuda Ben Yakar on Ata Chonantanu).

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36 is the number of candles an individual lights on Chanuka (excluding the shammos), which of course corresponds to the hours which Adam HaRishon experienced the Or Haganuz

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