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

There is a prohibition of counting Jews (see here) for a number of reasons:

1) Out of love for His people, G‑d counted us at important junctures of our history. The completion of the Tabernacle was one of these occasions (Rashi on Numbers 1:1.). 2) To ensure that the Jews had sufficient numbers to merit the dwelling of the Divine presence upon them (Kli Yakar ibid). 3) To ascertain how many warriors the Jews would have in their upcoming battles to conquer Canaan.

Does the prohibition hold when there are non-Jews is a group?

Is counting two Jews the minimum number for this aveirah? If so then if you count "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8" for a 'Jew, Jew, non-Jew, Jew, Jew, non-Jew, Jew, Jew' have you done, a) no aveirah at all because its a mixed group, b) three separate aveirot for each pair of Jews you count, or c) one aveirah of counting Jews together, or d) none of the above!

share|improve this question
If (d) what is the alternative? More than 3 aveiros? – Y ez Jun 19 '14 at 21:40
@YEZ i humbly await peoples' ingenuity ;) – bondonk Jun 19 '14 at 21:41
Touche. Are you willing to accept other explanations of that halacha as part of answering? – Y ez Jun 19 '14 at 21:44
I am open to all… within reason! – bondonk Jun 19 '14 at 21:50
Did you quote the wrong part of the article, perhaps? I don't see the relevance of that quotation in context. – msh210 Jun 20 '14 at 1:46

I heard a different explanation of the prohibition of counting which would seem to imply it would not matter if there were non-Jews involved.

I heard in the name of R' Leib Gurwicz that the reason it is forbidden to count Jews is because of what being countable implies. If you had a pile of rocks, you could count the rocks, and if you had a pile of apples you could count the apples. However, if you have a pile of many different objects, you cannot count them without ignoring their differences (i.e. rocks and apples could be counted as objects, if you ignore their differences). Counting Jews implies that they are all the same. Therefore, counting leads to a plague, because if they are all the same, Hashem doesn't need so many of them. The prohibition to count Jews is because of the recognition that every Jew is unique and irreplaceable.

This would seemingly apply even if you mixed some non-Jews into the mix. You couldn't count the unique objects just because there were other supposedly countable objects in the mix. It would also imply that the prohibition would be once per counting, because you are showing the lack of recognition of their individuality no matter how high or low you count, or how many countable objects come in the middle.

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.