An Excursion

Let’s take a couple of small excursions here before we go on. Our first:

Why is BaN (representing 2+50) not termed “NaB” (representing 50+2), so that like AV (representing 70+2), SaG (representing 60+3), and MaH (representing 40+5), its ten’s place numeral would come before its one’s place numeral? The short answer is because if it were termed NaB (representing 50+2) then it wouldn’t equal 9 in “the small number gematria” value.

The “small number gematria value” comes down to this: were I to add 2+4+6 I’d of course arrive at 12. If I were to add the 1 and 2 of the figure 12 I’d arrived at just now, I’d then arrive at the number 3, which is the “small number gematria” value of the original 2+4+6 (i.e., 2+4+6=12=3).

So, just as AV’s 72 is 7+2=9, SaG’s 63 is 6+3=9, and MaH’s 45 is 4+5=9 — BaN’s 52 is 2+700=9 in “small number gematria value” (given that the final letter Nun is worth 700), whereas it would be worth only 7 (5+2) if it read NaB (Midrash Peliah 163).

Why would they need to each be worth 9? According to that same source, that’s because that represents the nine major components of each Partzuf which is then completed by its tenth — it’s Malchut; or because the word for truth (emet) also has the “the small number gematria” value of 9 (1+40+400=9).

We’re not told there why either factor is important per se, but we’d surmise that the point is that each of the names, AV, SaG, etc. should have the same “valence” or potency. The other point might be that NaB is also an abbreviation of Nishmato B’Eden (so-and-so, “whose soul is Heaven”; i.e., R.I.P.) or Nirah B’eini (“it appears to me” i.e., “in my humble opinion”), which would then cause reading problems in various contexts.

(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org

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