I have heard from some sources that the number six is/can be construed as an evil number in Judaism, and as such, it should be avoided.

Is there truth to this? If so, what is the reasoning behind it? And is it something observed by the most traditional Jews and overseen by those of the faith who do not practice in the strictest sense?

  • 1
    "evil" and "avoided" in what sense? Can you provide some context of where you heard this? – DanF Mar 18 '16 at 15:45
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31399 – msh210 Mar 18 '16 at 15:53
  • 1
    I have heard that it is a number to be avoided (i.e. in ssn's, phone numbers, etc.) as it has evil roots? Something to do with the idea that the number 6 symbolizes man and human weakness and the manifestation of sin. Man was created on the sixth day. Men are appointed 6 days to labor.... – user12238 Mar 18 '16 at 16:29

Dr. Isaac Levy includes this explanation in his English translation of Rabbi Samson Refa'el Hirsch's commentary on Numbers 16:4):

The origin of this meaning is to be found in the work of the Creation. The visible material world created in six days received with the seventh day a day of remembrance of, and bond with its invisible L-rd and Creator, and thereby its completed consummation. Similarly the symbolism of the number seven in the Menora, in the Temple, in the Mussaf offerings, in the sprinklings of the blood on Yom Kippur, in the Festivals of Pesach and Succoth, in Sabbath, Schmita, Tumma etc. etc. The symbolism of the number eight: starting afresh on a higher level, an octave higher. The eighth day for Mila, Schmini Atzereth and Israel as the eighth of G-d's Creations. With the creation of Israel G-d laid the groundwork for a fresh, higher mankind and a fresh higher world, for that shamayim chadashim and the `eretz chadashah for which Israel and its mission is to be the beginning and instrument (Is. LXV,17).

So that there are three elements in us. (a) our material sensuous bodies, like the rest of the created visible world = 6; (b) the breath of free will, invisible, coming from the Invisible One = 7; (c) the calling of Jew, coming from the historical choice of Israel = 8.

Jews entered a covenant to assume a role as a "kingdom of priests". This priesthood requires reminding the world of the notion of "8", so that the world can get beyond the physical "6" and reach the free-willed, created, human, sanctity of "7". Eight is therefore not above all of creation, but beyond this universe. Eight represents man's ability to rise to angelic heights -- yes an image of growth, but not unobtainable. Man connects two worlds, eight connects those worlds. (Which is why the letter chet, the eighth letter, is drawn in the Torah as two copies of the seventh, zayin, connected by a bridge.)

Which is why the laws of the covenant G-d made with Noah and thereby all of humanity are grouped into seven commandments, and the sign of that covenant is seen in the seven-colored rainbow.

For Rav Samson Rephael Hirsch, the week gives meaning to the numbers six and seven. The Maharal, though, finds that the week itself is based on a more primary idea. He attributes the symbolism of six and seven to the structure of space: When you look closely you will find that the physical has six opposing sides, which are: top and bottom, right and left, front and back. All these six sides are related to the physical, because each side has extent, and limits physical objects. But, it also has in it a seventh, and this is the middle, which has no exposure on any side. Because it is not related to any side it is like the non-physical, which has no extension [takes up no volume of space]. (Gevuros Hashem 46)

Six, then, is the physical world. Not so much evil as something we need a seventh to harness, and an eight toward which to grow. A tool that will hopefully be used for good, not good or evil in-and-of itself.

  • Wow... That is really a beautiful way if describing it. Thank you. Sincerely – dsutherland Apr 6 '19 at 22:32

Au contraire - Here you can see many things which are positive in Judaism for the number six.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .