I read this article: 'ABOUT AND BY THE COMMENTATORS: Why do we Eat Matza on Pesach?' written by Rabbi Amnon Bazak, in which he wrote:

Avudraham gives many examples of gematria, the numerical value of the letters of a word or phrase. For example, according to the Talmud, "During prayer, one should keep his feet together, as is written, 'Their feet were straight' [Yechezkel 1:7]" [Berachot 10b]. In the laws of Shemona Essrei, Avudraham writes, "This is symbolized by the fact that 'yeshara' (straight) has the same numerical value as 'tefila' (prayer)." He also adds that the main factors in prayer are avoiding undesired thoughts and maintaining the proper attitude, and he notes that "prayer (tefila) has the same value as 'bekavanat halev' (attitude of the heart) and it is also equal to 'avodat lev' (service of the heart)."

It's the quotation of Avrudraham that really got my interest (Anyone know its source?) But after calculating, i found that tefilah and b'kavanat halev indeed share the same gematria (515), but the gematria of avodat lev is 514; did i miscalculate? or did I not understand the part 'it is also equal to avodat lev' correctly?


  • Gematria can be off by one. This is based on the Bnei Yissaschar. Do not have time now to give you exact location. May 31, 2016 at 20:36
  • 1
    @GershonGold actually the phenomenon long precedes the Bnei Yissaschar, he explains the phenomenon, rather than being the explanation for it. It is difficult to assert that writers centuries before him necessarily intended the opinion of a Hassidic writer from centuries after.
    – mevaqesh
    May 31, 2016 at 20:58
  • Any examples couldn't think of one
    – Levi
    Jun 1, 2016 at 5:33
  • @user4762 The example I am aware of is the tradition not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah because אגוז = חטא (I believe this is written in the Rema, so certainly predating the Bnei Yissaschar). Except of course that אגוז is only 17 and חטא is 18.... ...Actually, the gematria of ח"ט, or the initials "חתימה טובה" is 17, so technically one can make the argument that nuts should be one of the simanim. ;)
    – Nic
    Jun 2, 2016 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


In reckoning the correspondences of a word, it is traditional in gematria to consider also words having a total one less and one more than that of the number in question. This practice is stated as: "it is permissible to add or subtract an Aleph". An examination of the entries for consecutive numbers in this dictionary will show that some words duplicate within short ranges, owing to changes of gender, case, common speech variations, conjugation or declension. The practice of subtracting one stems mainly from the fact that any word with an Aleph after the first letter can have that Aleph replaced by a suitable vowel point. Addition of an Aleph to a word does not effect the pronunciation at all, unless a vowel point is assigned to the Aleph --- even then, such a vowel point can usually be borrowed from a consonant. This property of Aleph is also found to a lesser extent for Yod, Vau and Heh. Some multiple variants differ only in gender or case of possession.

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