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Who knows four?

Please cite/link your sources, if possible. After Shabbat, I will:

  • Upvote all interesting answers.

  • Accept the best answer.

  • Go on to the next number.

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37 Answers 37

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Four are the sheep you give back for stealing and slaughtering/selling one. Bah!

Four is the minimum number of children (two boys, two girls) at which point Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin and Rabbi Herschel Shachter would allow a couple to practice contraception indefinitely.

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Way to expose important positions in an important area of Halacha. Of course people should make sure to consult their own Rabbi before acting on this information. – Isaac Moses Mar 21 '10 at 1:03
Yeah. Don't go stealing sheep before asking your rabbi. :) – Shalom Mar 22 '10 at 18:03
Is that what they are calling contraception nowadays, "stealing sheep"?! ;-) – Yahu Apr 14 '10 at 6:08

4 exiles: בבל, פרס ומדי, יון. אדום.

These correspond to the letters of the word גשנה, which stands for גוף שכל נפש הכל.
גוף corresponds to גלות פרס ומדי.
שכל corresponds to גלות יון.
נפש corresponds to גלות בבל.
הכל corresponds to גלות אדום.

This is also connected to the 4 sides of the דריידל.

There are 4 sons of יבן (see 1 Chronicles 1:7 and Genesis 9:4)
There are 4 sons of חם (see 1 Chronicles 1:8 and Genesis 9:6)
There are 4 sons of ארם (see Genesis 9:23)
There are 4 sons of ראואל (see 1 Chronicles 1:37)
There are 4 sons of ראומה (see Genesis 22:24)

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Four is number of angels, faces, wings and hands (on each angel) of Yechzkiel's vision

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There are four verses in Megillas Esther which the listeners read out loud.

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Four are the number of ages at which Chazal recommend that one should get married, each one more optimal than the next:

Fourteen, Sixteen, Eighteen and Twenty.

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Four is the number of cities King Nimrod sacrificed when he abandoned the cause of the Tower of Babel: Babel, Erech, Achad, and Kaleh.

Four is also the number of cities he was able to build as a reward once he got to Ashur: Ninveh, Rehoboth Ir, Kalah, and the great city, Resen.

(Gen 10:10-12, Targum Pseudo Jonathan ibid)

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There are 2 which are subdivided into FOUR ways to move something from a private domain to a public domain on Shabbos (Shabbos Mishna 1:1)

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Starting from the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh Adar - or Adar2 in a leap year - we read what is known as the Daled Parshiyos - 4 special readings for the Maftir. Parshas Shekalim, Parshas Zachor, Parshas Parah, and Parshas HaChodesh.

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On Rosh Chodesh we have four Aliyos to the Torah.

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Four are the corners of the Mizbeahh.

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Four are the cardinal directions:

  • East/Qedem (Shemot 27:13)
  • South/Negev (Bereshit 24:62)
  • North/Tzafon (Yeshayahu 14:13)
  • West/Yam (Bemidbar 34:60)
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The number of columns (turim) of stones on the Choshen Mishpat. (Exodus 28:17)

Ironically enough, Choshen Mishpat is one of the Arba'a Turim. Which brings another answer: the number of sections in the Arba'a Turim and Shulchan Aruch.

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4 animals mentioned in the Torah that have only one Siman of Tahara and are thus Non-Kosher. (Leviticus 11:4, Deuteronomy 14:7)

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We take 4 Minim on Succos: Lulav, Esrog, Hadas, Arava (Leviticus 23:40)

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There are four shomerim - שומר חינם, שואל, נושא שכר, ושוכר. (Bava Metzia 93a)

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There are four types of death by a Beis Din - Stoning, Burning, Beheading and Strangulation. (Sanhedrin 49b)

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four letter of the tetragrammaton Y-H-V-H which is ultimately the source of most things four you will find in the torah. see shaarei kedusha.

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Pirkei Avos Ch. 5:

4 times when pestilence increases - 4th, 7th, and year after shemitta, and after sukkos (12)

4 types of people - what's mine is mine etc... (13)

4 types of mindsets - angers easily cools off easily, angers slowly cools off slowly, angers slowly cools off easily, angers easily cools off slowly (14)

4 types of students - Understand quickly and forgets quickly, understands with difficulty and forgets with difficulty, understands quickly and forgets with difficulty, understands with difficulty and forgets quickly (15)

4 types of tzeddaka givers - gives himself and wants others to give etc... (16)

4 types of people who go to the Beis Medrash - goes and doesn't study, studies and doesn't go, goes and studies, doesn't go and doesn't study (17)

4 types of people who sit before chachamim - sponge, funnel, strainer, sieve (18)

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Four expressions of redemption from Egypt.

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We Daven four Amidos (colloquially known as Shemonah Esreis) on Shabbos, Yom Tov, and Rosh Chodesh

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... levels on which to understand the Torah: פשט- plain meaning, רמז- hints, דרש- exegesis, סוד- secret, hidden, underlying essential meaning

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Four is the lowest age of chinuch for standard mitzvos.

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Can you cite a source? – msh210 Aug 6 '12 at 22:51

Moshiach has four names. Menachem, Shilo, Yinon, and Chanina which spells Moshiach

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@DoubleAA: Eichah Rabbah 1:57. Though it then points out that צמח and מנחם count as the same thing because they have the same gematria. – Alex May 8 '12 at 19:37
@HodofHod I don't know that it's -1 worthy. These are clearly all homiletic: if someone came and had all the rambam's characteristics of Mashiach and did all the things etc. but his name was Bob, I would still accept him as Mashiach. My point is there is no wrong answer for the name of Mashiach. – Double AA Jun 18 '12 at 3:49

I know we all like to provide out-of-the-box answers, but I'm disappointed that I have to be the one to give this answer, and nearly two years after the question was asked - 4 Imahoth (Matriarchs).

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4 shades of white that constitute tzara'at. (Snow, plaster, eggshell and wool)

(Negaim 1:1)

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4 holy cities, Yerushalayim, Chevron, Teveria, Tzefas

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... are the earthly elemental states according to ancient philosophy and Kabbalah:

Earth (solid), Air (gas), Fire (plasma), and Water (liquid)


Midrash Rabba, Bamidbar 14,12, טבעים,

Zohar I, 27a,


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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22542 – msh210 Dec 3 '12 at 3:46

Four men died without sins:

Binyamin, Amram, Yishai, Kil'av.

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Shabbos 55b is the source. – Bruce James Dec 8 '13 at 3:23

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