Who knows one hundred sixty-six?

Please cite/link your sources, if possible. At some point at least twenty-four hours from now, I will:

  • Upvote all interesting answers.

  • Accept the best answer.

  • Go on to the next number.

4 Answers 4


The sun is 166 times the size of the earth (plus change). - Rambam, preface to Commentary on the Mishna

  • What "size" quality does this refer to? The mass, volume, and cross-sectional area ratios between these bodies are both orders of magnitude greater than 166. The closest I can think of is the ratio of their diameters, which contemporary observation puts at ~109. Was the Rambam referring to some other ratio, depending on observations that have since been revised, or depending on non-observational (e.g. Scriptural) data? wolframalpha.com/input/?i=diameter+of+sun+%2F+diameter+of+earth (Square for an area ratio. Replace "diameter" with "mass" or "volume" to get those ratios.)
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 19:45
  • 1
    The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l explains (see chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7993/jewish/…) that the Rambam was referring to the sun's diameter, and including the protuberances and other such temporary phenomena (whereas the modern figure of ~109 refers to just the photosphere).
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 23:01
  • Interesting! Any kid who draws a picture of the Sun makes sure to include the shiny points coming out. I wonder why the Rambam used such a precise figure to describe a body with such variable size.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 16:37
  • 1
    @Isaac: the "shiny points" in your average kid's (or adult's, for that matter) drawing are meant to represent the sun's rays, not the solar flares and whatnot. :) Anyway, as for the precision of the Rambam's figure: could be, according to this explanation, that it's simply an average obtained by observation over a long period of time. (Nowadays we would probably round to the nearest significant figure or two in order to make it clear that it's an approximation, but likely as not that wasn't the usual practice in earlier times.)
    – Alex
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 17:52

The sefer אברהם אנכי - חלק א here says:

Megillas Esther has 166 posukim (according to the ר' אליעזר מגורמיזא - רוקח) like the gematria of יַעְלְזוּ חֲסִידִים בְּכָבוֹד (Tehillim 149:5), and this corresponds to the number of words in parshas וַיָּבֹא עֲמָלֵק Shemos 17:8-16 plus the words in parshas זָכוֹר Devarim 25:17-19.

It also corresponds to the number of words in Hallel Hagadol (Tehillim 136:1-26) which says in verse 24 וַיִּפְרְקֵנוּ מִצָּרֵינוּ (and He saved us from our adversaries) - an allusion to Haman, אִישׁ צַר וְאוֹיֵב (Esther 7:6). And posuk 25 says נֹתֵן לֶחֶם לְכָל-בָּשָׂר (Who gives bread to all flesh) which is an allusion to the festive meal of Purim. This is the explanation of the answer in the gemara Megillah 14a as to why we don't say Hallel on Purim, because קרייתא זו הלילא - "reading it (Megillas Esther) is Hallel, and since it is called Hallel Hagadol (the Great Hallel) it is greater than the Hallel that we say on all the other festivals.

  • Is there an argument over how many pesukim there are? (My megillah has 167...)
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 14:24

There is a lot of talk about the Christians censoring 166 years of the Jewish calendar. That would mean we only have 63 years left till the year 6000.



And, bitul b'rov is generally accepted as 1/60, which is 1.66% ;) .

  • 5
    This would be a better answer for "Shishim - mi yodyea"? Also, note that shishim and rov are two different standards.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 20:43
  • Some people don't appreciate clever answers. Harumph!
    – yaacov
    Commented Mar 4, 2015 at 2:54

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