I can't remember where but I read that the Ba'al HaTurim points out that 'Am Yisrael Berifidim' has the same gematria as 'Rafu yedeyhem min HaMitzvot.'

The closest I got was this: Kitzur Baal HaTurim on Exodus 17:8

But after a calculation I got this: 987 עם ישראל ברפידם רפו ידיהם מן המצות 986

So it isn't exact the same gematria... Anyone here who knows how he equals these phrases?

  • 1
    You want the Artscroll Baal Haturim. They do the legwork for you when the gematria doesn't match up exactly. Sometimes they use im hakolel (ba's answer) and other rules, sometimes they change the girsa (often based on manuscripts). They do a pretty good job of this kind of thing.
    – Heshy
    Jan 30, 2018 at 17:28
  • @Heshy, thanks but that's quite expensive for now.. if you have one maybe you could add on the answer of ba.
    – Levi
    Jan 30, 2018 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


Gematria is allowed to be off by 1, because the word itself is counted as the missing 1. This rule is called kolel (and the words עם הכולל "with the kolel" are sometimes used to make clear that there is a difference of 1).

I'm not sure when this method of counting was first used, but the Leket Yosher (p. 3), citing the Trumat Hadeshen, brings a proof to this rule from Rashi's commentary on the word ונושנתם (Deuteronomy 4:25) that God did a favor to Israel by exiling them after 850 years, becaue if the Children of Israel were in the land of Israel for 852 years (the numerical value of ונושנתם), they would be "utterly destroyed" (4:26). The fact that they had to be exiled two years before 852, rather than one year, is a proof that the value can be off by one, because if they had been in the land for 851 years, they would have still been in danger of being "utterly destroyed" because it is within 1 of the value of 852, the value of ונושנתם. (This was sourced from Wikiyeshiva.)


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