I have noticed that there are a number of significant figures in Jewish history who were born at 7 months. To name a few:

  • Yitzchok Avinu (Rosh Hashana 11a)
  • Reuvein, Shimon, and Levi (Rabbeinu Bachaye, Bereishis 35:30)
  • The rest of the Shevatim (according to my assertion here)
  • Moshe Rabbeinu (Rashi, Shemos 2:3)
  • Shmuel Hanovi (Niddah 38b)

What is the significance, symbolic or otherwise, to this phenomenon?

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    relevant: "the Gemara (Shabbat 135a) states that a baby born in its eighth month from conception cannot survive and, therefore, Shabbat should not be violated to try to save it. However, a baby born in its seventh or ninth month is viable and Shabbat must be violated for its sake. " - aishdas.org/toratemet/science.html – Menachem Nov 30 '15 at 7:08
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    children born at this time often have health issues. Perhaps the significance can be found in that specific people born in this time frame is they were born completely healthy and able to breathe on their own? – Dude Nov 30 '15 at 13:28
  • @sabbahillel What was the point of that edit? I don't see what improvement it made, and it changed the connotation from asking if there is significance to assuming there is and asking what it is. – Y     e     z Dec 1 '15 at 2:46
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    @sabbahillel You changed the title after you approved an edit which changed the body of the question... – Y     e     z Dec 1 '15 at 3:37
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    @yEz IMO you should feel free to rollback the edit if you feel it conflicts wit your intent. – Double AA Dec 1 '15 at 4:56

a) Seven month children would indicate resistence and longevity. The Midrash Rabbah 14:2 states:

בעון קמיה דרבי אבהו: מנין שהנוצר לשבעה חי? אמר להון: מדידכון, אנא ממטי לכון, זיט"א אפט"א, איט"א אוכט"א:

They [some Greeks] asked R. Abahu: From where do you know that a fetus formed at 7 months can live? He replied: From your own [language] I will prove it to you: zeta epta, eta octo [this is a wordplay on "zeta — seven, eta — eight" also meaning something like "fetuses of seven months are more likely to survive than those of eight" ("Live, seven! Dying eight")].

Therefore the seven month baby is not premature but a product of an alternative, faster maturation tract.

b) Indicates a sign of greatness and prophecy. That would explain why Midrash HaGadol on Shemos 2:2 states:

שכל הנביאים לא נולדו אלא לשבעה חדשים

“all prophets were born at seven months"

  • Thanks for the info, but this somewhat begs the question. What is the symbolism or significance of 7 months? I suppose mefarshim on that Midrash HaGadol would be a good place to start. – Y     e     z May 2 '16 at 14:12
  • I don't know about a, but b makes sense given that 7 indicates spirituality. – DonielF Aug 16 '16 at 12:39

I once heard a reason given that tzadikim, even at a young age, are eager to get out into the world and start doing mitzvos...


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