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The Significance of the Number Fifteen

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

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The Mabul 1

In Marriage. 2

In Torah She’Baal Peh. 2

In Our Blessings 3

In The Festivals 6

In Pesach. 6

Fifteen in the Scriptures 9

Judges of Israel 11

Prophets in Israel 11

Tribes 11

In The Mishkan. 11

In The Nazarean Codicil 11

In Marriage. 12

HaShem’s Name. 12

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In this study I would like to examine the significance and meaning of the number fifteen (15). I have discovered that we always  find fifteen in places of holiness and redemption, but I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

 

Fifteen, in Hebrew, can be expressed with the letters yod (h) and a hey (v):

 

h = 10

v = 5

 

Normally we do not use the yod-hey - יה (Kah) to express the number fifteen (10 + 5) as it is one of the names of HaShem. Thus, the world was created with the concept of fifteen.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 26:4 for within Kah- יה is HaShem, the rock of the universe.

 

Longstanding tradition is to avoid the straightforward way of writing the number fifteen. Accordingly, fifteen is written as tet-vav - טוNine+six. HaShem’s Name, as it were, is hidden within the number fifteen.

 

We could also retranslate the above pasuk as:

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 26:4 With the name Yah HaShem created the world.

 

The word Yah, spelled with a yud and a hey, equals in gematria fifteen. Thus, the world was created with the concept of fifteen. Yet, the word Yah only represents half of HaShem’s Name. HaShem’s kingship will only be fully revealed when Mashiach arrives.

 

So, if HaShem created the world with fifteen, then it naturally follows that the world was given to us as a way of perceiving HaShem from this world.

 

Fifteen represents the Gematria for the word Hod meaning glory, splendor, majesty, beauty, grandeur, magnificence and majestic splendor.

 

15 = ד = 4 + ו =6 + ה = 5

 

Fifteen always represents the elevation from physical to spiritual. From this we can understand the Kli Yakar that fifteen is often used to represent the bond between man and wife, as we shall soon see.

 

The elevation, mentioned in the previous paragraph, has a corollary: The number fifteen always signifies the fifteen steps necessary for the attainment of a lofty objective. 

 

The Mabul

 

Bereshit 7:20,24 The water rose fifteen Amot (cubits) above the highest of mountains.... The water covered the earth for 150 days.

 

The careful reader of the Torah’s account of the great flood is immediately struck by the recurrence of decimal factors of fifteen in the account. The waters of the flood rose fifteen Amot above the ground, and they remained there for 150 days. With regard to Noach’s Ark, we are told that it measured 300 Amot in length and 50 in width (Bereshit 6:15). That would make its floor space 15,000 square Amot. And since the 30 Amot height of the Ark was divided into three equal compartments, each compartment measured 150,000 cubic Amot in volume. Kli Yakar (Bereshit 6:15), noting this interesting recurrence, explains that the number fifteen indeed has in it a symbolism that is related to the events surrounding the great flood.

 

The Kli Yakar adds that the number fifteen, and the Holy Name produced by yod-hey - יה, often are used to represent the bond between man and wife. For example, in the Temple a staircase separated between the Women’s Court and the Men’s Court (Court of the Israelites). This staircase consisted of fifteen steps, upon which the Levite musicians stood and played their musical instruments during the Succoth celebrations. According to some, the fifteen “Songs of ascent” (Shir HaMaalot) of Tehillim (Psalms. 120-134) were so called because they were sung on these steps.[1] The fifteen Songs of Ascent were sung by the Levites while ascending the fifteen stairs in the Beit HaMikdash, the Temple. Thus we see the elevation of fifteen, from physical to spiritual, in the physical act of moving, and ascending, closer to HaShem in the Holy of Holies, and closer to HaShem through the music and the lyrics of the Psalms. This is one reason for the fifteen steps between the Women’s court and the court of Israel in the Beit HaMikdash.

 

The waters of the Mabul (great flood) rose above the highest mountain fifteen amot, to signify that mankind’s activities had been anything but holy, and, had pushed the Divine Presence, symbolized by the letters yod-hey, toward heaven and away from man.

 

The fifteen cubits represented HaShem’s presence above the earth the hundred fifty days represents the fifteen permeating all ten aspects of creation.

 

In Marriage

 

The Talmud[2] states that a successful marriage depends upon the inclusion of HaShem in the relationship, that is, making the marriage Torah based. This is symbolized by the fact that the word “Ish” (man: aleph-yud-shin) and “Ishah” (woman: aleph-shin-heh) share common letters: aleph-shin – אש  - which spells the word for “fire” -- but also have one letter different from each other: a “yod - י” in Ish and a “hey - ה” in Ishah, the letters of which we have been speaking.

 

The message is quite precise: Remove HaShem from a marriage (i.e., symbolized by fifteen, the yod-hey), and you are left with “fire” (aleph-shin), unholy passion and a flame that consumes the marriage.

 

YYY

 

Fifteen categories of women exempt their rivals from Yibum (Positive mitzva #216 - levirate marriage) and chalitzah (the shoe-removal ceremony relieving a brother-in-law of his obligation to marry his widowed sister-in-law).

 

Yevamoth 2a FIFTEEN [CATEGORIES OF] WOMEN EXEMPT THEIR RIVALS1 AND THE RIVALS OF THEIR RIVALS AND SO ON, AD INFINITUM, FROM THE HALIZAH AND FROM THE LEVIRATE MARRIAGE; AND THESE ARE THEY: HIS DAUGHTER, THE DAUGHTER OF HIS DAUGHTER7 AND THE DAUGHTER OF HIS SON; THE DAUGHTER OF HIS WIFE, THE DAUGHTER OF HER SON AND THE DAUGHTER OF HER DAUGHTER; HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW, HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW’S MOTHER,10 AND HIS FATHER-IN-LAW’S MOTHER; HIS MATERNAL SISTER, HIS MOTHER’S SISTER, HIS WIFE’S SISTER AND HIS MATERNAL BROTHER’S WIFE;

 

In Torah She’Baal Peh

 

The Mishna in states “a fifteen-year-old begins the study of Gemara.”

 

Pirke Avot 5:25 He [Yehuda ben Taima] used to say: At five [one should begin the study of] Scriptures; at ten, Mishna; at thirteen [one becomes obligated in] the commandments; at fifteen [the study of] Talmud; at eighteen the wedding canopy; at twenty to pursue; at thirty strength; at forty understanding; at fifty counsel; at sixty old age; at seventy fullness of years; at eighty spiritual strength; at ninety bending over; at one hundred it is as if he has died and passed on from the world.

 

The Talmud[3] gives us fifteen signs of what the world will be like immediately prior to the coming of the Mashiach. This pre-Messianic period is known as the Ikveta D’meshicah - the “footsteps of the Messiah“, the time when we believe the Mashiach is just around the corner and his footsteps can be heard.

 

Here is the list of the signs that signal the Messiah’s imminent arrival, as quoted in the Talmud:

 

Sotah 49b When the footsteps of the Messiah can be heard...

(1) chutzpah (insolence) will increase;

(2) inflation will soar;

(3) the vine will yield its fruit, but wine will be expensive; 

(4) the dominant power in the world will promote the denial of G-d; 

(5) no one will be able to reprove another [for everyone will be guilty of the same transgressions]; 

(6) the meeting place (of Torah scholars) will be used for immorality; 

(7) the Galilee will be destroyed, and the Gablan will become desolate; 

(8) the people who live on the border will go around begging from town to town and will not be pitied; 

(9) the wisdom of the Torah scholars will rot, and those who fear sin will be despised; 

(10) the truth will be hidden; 

(11) young people will shame old men, and old men will stand up before youngsters, a son will degrade his father, and a daughter will rebel against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law

(12) a man’s enemies will be the members of his household

(13) the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog; 

(14) a son will not be ashamed before his father

(15) On whom can we rely? On our Father in heaven.”

 

Midrash: Only the living call HaShem by the name of yod-hay; the dead are not allowed to do so, as the verse says:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 115:17 The dead do not praise yod-hay.

 

It is a rule that the dead never mention HaShem’s two-letter name.[4]

 

YYY

 

In Our Blessings

 

Fifteen words in the bircat kohanim, the priestly blessings.

 

bircat kohanim contain three lines consisting of three, five and seven words, totaling fifteen words and fifteen is the gematria (numerical) equivalent for the Divine Presence (יה). Rabbenu Bachya stated that this sequencing reminds us of the three Patriarchs, the five books of the Torah and the seven days of the week (or seven dimensions of heaven). The number of letters in each of the three verses of the Priestly Blessing are also structured mathematically in a sequence of fifteen, twenty and twenty-five words.

 

Fifteen is the number of words in the blessing we say over the Yom Tov candles.       

 

ברוך אתה יהוה אלוהינו מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של יום טוב.‏

 

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

 

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us through the mitzvot and has commanded us to kindle the festival lights.

 

When we light these candles we ascend from the days of work to the day of rest (of the festival). We ascend from the physical world to the spiritual world.

 

We also begin our ascent every morning when we pray. One of the very first parts of shacharit (morning prayers) are the fifteen Birchot HaShachar (morning blessings). These are the first fifteen of the 100 blessings we will say during the day. With these blessing we begin to transcend this world and enter HaShem’s world. The goal of the morning prayers is to make ourselves one with HaShem.

 

We recite fifteen blessings every morning: 

 

ברוך... אשר נתן לשכוי בינה להבחין בין יום ובין לילה

Blessed... who has given the rooster the ability to discern between light and darkness

 

ברוך... שלא עשני גוי

Blessed... for not making me a gentile

 

ברוך... שלא עשני עבד

Blessed... for not making me a slave

 

ברוך... שלא עשני אשה/שעשני כרצונו

Blessed... for not making me a woman/ or making me according to His will

 

ברוך... פוקח עורים

Blessed... who gives sight to the blind

 

ברוך... מלביש ערמים

Blessed... who dresses the naked

 

ברוך... מתיר אסורים

Blessed... who frees the incarcerated 

 

ברוך... זוקף כפופים

Blessed... who raises up those who are stooped

 

ברוך... רוקע הארץ על המים

Blessed... who sets the land upon the waters

 

ברוך... המכין מצעדי גבר

Blessed... who prepares the footsteps of man

 

ברוך... שעשה לי כל צרכי

Blessed... who has provided me with my needs

 

ברוך... אוזר ישראל בגבורה

Blessed... who girds Israel with heroism

 

ברוך... עוטר ישראל בתפארה

Blessed... who crowns Israel with glory

 

ברוך... הנותן ליעף כח

Blessed... who grants strength to the tired

 

והאחרונה

And the last blessing...

 

ויהי רצון מלפניך...ברוך המעביר שנה מעיני ותנומה מעפעפי...ברוך את ה' הגומל חסדים טובים לעמו ישראל 

Blessed... who withdraws sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eye lids... Blessed... who grants benevolence to His Nation Yisrael...May it be Your will... 

 

When analyzing the blessings, one could get the impression that although they relate to very basic issues - which indeed require the offering of thanks to the Almighty - there is no common thread joining them nor a discernible intellectual framework which guided the rabbis who instituted the blessings.

 

In addition to the apparent disconnected content of the blessings, there is another difficulty. At the end of every blessing recited by the chazzan, we must reply with "Amen." The only exception is with the last blessing, "Blessed... who withdraws sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eye lids," where the "Amen" is delayed until the end of an additional lengthy blessing which closes with, "Blessed... who grants benevolence to His Nation Yisrael." Why?

 

I suggest that there is, indeed, a definite framework within which the rabbis composed these fifteen blessings. It is the episode of the exodus from Egypt.

 

With this in mind, the blessings and their order become rational and mandatory:

 

Paro came to Moshe at midnight of the fifteenth of Nisan (seder night) to order him and the Jewish people to immediately leave Egypt. Moshe refused, saying that that we will not leave like "thieves in the night" but in daylight, as a proud people, with heads high, for all to see.

 

From midnight on, the Jewish nation waited impatiently for the first rays of dawn, which would signal daylight. When the roosters crowed, the rabbis knew that day had come; and they enacted the first blessing, "Blessed... who has given the rooster the ability to discern between light and darkness." This was not to glorify the natural ability of roosters to discern the beginning of morning, but to indelibly set in our national consciousness the glory of that night.

 

When looking back at what they left, the Jews saw the condition of the Egyptian people where not a home was without a death. This gave rise to the second bracha, "Blessed... for not making me a gentile." At the first taste of freedom they said, "Blessed... for not making me a slave."

 

The first mitzva given by HaShem to the nation to sacrifice a lamb or goat and put its blood on the doorposts was directed at the males of the nation. So they recited, "Blessed... for not making me a woman," in order to be obligated to do this first mitzva.

 

The flight out of Egypt came on the wake of the plague of darkness, when the Egyptians were blinded but the Jews were able to see. So they praised HaShem with the blessing, "Blessed... who gives sight to the blind."

 

HaShem commanded Moshe to instruct the people to "borrow" vessels and clothing from their Egyptian neighbors. This was to enable the Jews to shed their tattered clothing of slavery and don the clothing of free men. So they recited the next two blessings, "Blessed... who dresses the naked, Blessed... who frees the incarcerated."

 

Since a slave is prohibited from standing erect, the people now recited, "Blessed... who raises up those who are stooped."

 

Upon seeing the waters of Yam Suf turned into dry land they said, "Blessed... who sets the land upon the waters."

 

When the Jewish nation saw the might army of Paro running berserk into the death trap of the split waters, they praised HaShem with, "Blessed... who prepares the footsteps of man."

 

While walking in the twelve lanes of the parted waters (one for each tribe) that were filled with drinking water, fruit and other luxuries, the Jews said, "Blessed... who has provided me with my needs."

 

Upon being victorious in their battle against Amalek in Rephidim, the people said, "Blessed... who girds Israel with heroism."

 

When receiving the Torah, the people were blessed with "atarim", crowns of glory and they recited, "Blessed... who crowns Israel with glory."

 

And when the episode of the Exodus and all that transpired at that time ended, the nation took stock of what had happened and praised HaShem with the words, "Blessed... who grants strength to the tired."

 

And the last blessing - 

"Blessed... who withdraws sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids," after which there is no reply of "Amen."

 

We were freed by HaShem from Egyptian slavery and were given the Torah at Mount Sinai, followed by over 3000 years of Jewish history; but despite it all, HaShem has yet to fully "withdraw sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids." We as a nation have not yet awoken to the true life which HaShem had planned for His "chosen people."

 

Yehuda Ha’Levi writes in his classic "The Kuzari" that, in the future, Am Yisrael will be granted the gift of prophecy. Cognizance of HaShem, accompanied by the unfolding of the profoundest secrets of the worlds within the text of the Torah, are possible only through prophecy. The human intellect was not made with the capacity to disclose these matters nor to comprehend them even when explained. For this we need prophecy.

 

When that time comes, we will all realize that life - with all its understanding and wisdom until that moment - was only a dream, a virtual reality.

 

This is what King David meant when he wrote in Tehillim 126:1

שיר המעלות בשוב ה' את שיבת ציון היינו כחלמים

"A song of Ascent

When HaShem will return the captives of Zion, we will realize that we were dreaming"

 

 

Therefore the time has not yet arrived to answer "Amen" after "Blessed... who withdraws sleep from my eyes and slumber from my eyelids."

 

However, when the time does arrive, prophecy will be granted only to us who live in Eretz Yisrael (as stated in many sources that prophecy was granted only here).

In The Festivals

 

The moon, an oft used simile for Klal Yisrael, grows daily until it reaches its apex on the fifteenth day of the month. We have several festivals that occur during this climatic period.

 

Pesach is on the fifteenth day of Nisan.

 

Succoth is on the fifteenth day of Tishri.

 

Tu B’Shebat (Rosh HaShana for fruit trees) is on the fifteenth day of Shevat.

 

Tu B’Av is on the fifteenth day of Av

 

Shushan Purim is the fifteenth of the month of Adar (or Adar bet).

 

The Maharal writes that these festivals are to teach us that when Klal Yisrael were at their zenith, they had acquired fifteen levels of holiness (as enumerated in Dayenu), the ultimate sphere of holiness as represented in HaShem’s name יה.

 

In Pesach

 

There are two numbers that play a significant role by the Pesach Seder, which occurs on the fifteenth of Nisan. One number is four, and the other is fifteen.

 

The word Abib, spring, equals fifteen in gematria, and Pesach is referred to as Chag HaAbib, the spring festival.

 

We declare our praise to HaShem through the number fifteen, because HaShem redeemed us on the fifteenth of the month of Nissan

 

There are fifteen parts of the Pesach seder:

1) Kadesh        6) Ra-chatza    11) Shulchan Orech

2) Ur-chatz      7) Motzi          12) Tzafun

3) Karpas        8) Matzah        13) Barech

4) Ya-chatz     9) Maror          14) Hallel

5) Magid         10) Korech      15) Nirtzah

As we progress through these fifteen steps of the haggada, we ascend from this world to the next world even as the first half of the seder, before dinner, speaks to the past redemption and the second half speaks to the future redemption.

 

15 steps in the seder song Dayenu:

 

Why are there fifteen stanzas of Dayenu? The fifteen lines correspond to HaShem’s name: Yod and hey - ה + י. Yod represents the next world, and hey represents this world. Fifteen always represents the elevation from physical to spiritual. The Maharal further explains that the number 15 represents man’s connection to HaShem. Thus we see that when man (physical) is elevated to HaShem (spiritual), then  we will surely see the number 15.

 

Five Stanzas of Leaving Slavery

1)  If He had brought us out of Egypt.

2)  If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians.

3)  If He had executed justice upon their gods.

4)  If He had slain their first born.

5)  If He had given to us their wealth.

 

Five Stanzas of Miracles

6)  If He had split the sea for us.

7)  If He had led us through on dry land.

8)  If He had drowned our oppressors.

9)  If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for forty years.

10) If He had fed us manna.

 

Five Stanzas of Being with HaShem

11) If He had given us Shabbat.

12) If He had led us to Mount Sinai.

13) If He had given us the Torah.

14) If He had brought us into the Land of Israel.

15) He built the Temple for us.

 

Note that Dayenu begins with the words:  kamah maalot tovot - how many good favors has HaShem bestowed upon us. 

 

The song then lists fifteen generous gifts that HaShem has given us. But the word maalot may not only mean “good favor,” but may also mean ascent, referring to our ascension from the physical to the spiritual



 

Hebrew

English Translation

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמְּצָרִים

וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had brought us out from Egypt,

and had not carried out judgments against them

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים

וְלֹא עָשָׂה בֶּאֱלֹהֵיהֶם

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had carried out judgments against them,

and not against their idols

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בֶּאֱלֹהֵיהֶם

וְלֹא הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had destroyed their idols,

and had not smitten their first-born

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had smitten their first-born,

and had not given us their wealth

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם

ןלא קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had given us their wealth,

and had not split the sea for us

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

וְלֹא הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בַּחָרְבָּה

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had split the sea for us,

and had not taken us through it on dry land

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בַּחָרְבָּה

וְלֹא שָׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had taken us through the sea on dry land,

and had not drowned our oppressors in it

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ שֶׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ

וְלֹא סָפַק צָרַכְנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had drowned our oppressors in it,

and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ סְפֵק צְרָכֵינוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years,

and had not fed us the manna

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had fed us the manna,

and had not given us the Shabbat

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

וְלֹא קָרַבְנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינִי

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had given us the Shabbat,

and had not brought us before Mount Sinai

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ קָרַבְנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינִי

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had brought us before Mount Sinai,

and had not given us the Torah

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

וְלֹא הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had given us the Torah,

and had not brought us into the land of Israel

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

אִלּוּ הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

וְלֹא בָּנָה לָנוּ אֶת בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

דַּיֵּנוּ :‏

If He had brought us into the land of Israel,

and not built for us the Holy Temple

— Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

 

Notice that the praise of Dayenu[5] takes us from abject slavery to the very throne of HaShem in the Promised land. We progressed from the physical to the spiritual. Thus we see that fifteen always represents the elevation from physical to spiritual.


On the festivals, we have a requirement is to read a minimum of fifteen verses from the Prophets since fifteen is the minimum number of verses that must be read from the Torah for the five persons honored with aliyot.

 

Fifteen in the Scriptures

 

In the Masoretic text of the Bible, fifteen passages are found, in which one or more letters or even entire words are marked with points that cannot be accounted for by the so-called Masoretic punctuation. These points, for this reason, are known as the Puncta Extraordinaria, ‘Extraordinary Points’ or more simply, in the Jewish writings, as the Nequdoth, ‘the Points’1 Of the fifteen passages, ten occur in the Pentateuch, four in the Prophets, and one in the Hagiographa. They are the following:

Genesis 16:5, Genesis 18:9, Genesis 19:33, Genesis 33:4, Genesis 37:12, Numbers 3:39, Numbers 9:10, Numbers 21:30, Numbers 29:15, Deuteronomy 29:28, 2 Samuel 19:20, Isaiah 44:9, Ezekiel 41:20, Ezekiel 46:22, Psalms 27:13.

 

Without a doubt, transmission of mystical knowledge is central to the meaning of the word Kabbalah, but there are numerous other connotations associated with its Hebrew root קבל (pronounced: kabel; spelled: kuf-beit-lamed - קבל), in addition to the most common “receptivity / acceptance”. In fact, the Hebrew root of Kabbalah appears in the Bible fifteen times with various meanings: (This does not include the root קבל as it appears in the Aramaic sections of the Bible).[6]

 

In each one of the three parts of the Bible, the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), the Prophets, and the Writings–the root קבל possesses an independent meaning:

 

 

Galatians 1:18  Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

 

Y Y Y

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 27:1 And HaShem spake unto Moses, saying, 2  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man shall make a singular vow, the persons shall be for HaShem by thy estimation. 3  And thy estimation shall be of the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old, even thy estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. 4  And if it be a female, then thy estimation shall be thirty shekels. 5  And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.  6  And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver. 7  And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels.

 

YYY

 

Hosea 3:2  So I bought her to me for fifteen of silver, and an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

 

YYY

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 38:5  Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith HaShem, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus X:5 Whence is derived the view of R. Judah b. Rabbi that prayer effects complete pardon?--From the case of Hezekiah. The original term of Hezekiah’s kingship was only fourteen years, as it is written, Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, etc. In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death (Isa. XXXVI, 1 and XXXVIII, 1), but after he prayed, fifteen years more were given him, as it is said, Then came the word of the Lord... behold I will add unto thy days fifteen years (ib. 5).

 

YYY

 

Shemot (Exodus) 27:14  The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 27:15  And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.

 

YYY

 

Shemot (Exodus) 38:14  The hangings of the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 38:15  And for the other side of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.

 

YYY

 

Fifteen generations from Abraham to King Solomon; then fifteen generations from Solomon until the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash.

 

There were fifteen who ruled Israel as judges:

 

Judges of Israel[7]

 

Othniel

 (3:7-11) 1st Judge after Joshua’s death

Ehud

 (3:12-30) Fought the Moabites

Shagmar

(3:31) Led Israelites against the Philistines

Deborah

(4-5) Prophetess, guided Barak to victory over the Canaanites, only female judge

Gideon

(6-8) Defeated Midianites with 300 men

Abimelech

(9) Only judge to win leadership through treachery

Tola

(10:1-5) Judged Israel for 23 years

Yair

(10: 1-5) Judged Israel for 22 years

Jepthah

(10:17-12:7) Defeated Ammonites

Ibzan

(12:8-15) Judged people for seven years

Elon

(12:8-15) Judge for ten years

Abdon

(12:8-15) Ruled for eight years

Samson

(13-16) Fought Phillistines singlehandedly

Eli

(1 Samuel 1:9) Priest, ruled people from the sanctuary at Gilo

Samuel

Last judge before the kingdom came under the rule of Saul

 

Prophets in Israel

 

Abarbanel and Metzudat David say that the number fifteen is a hint of the fifteen prophets who prophesied concerning the redemption of Klal Yisrael at the “end of days.” The fifteen are:

 

  1. King David in the Book of Tehillim,
  2. Yeshayahu,
  3. Yirmiyahu,
  4. Yehezchel,
  5. Hoshea,
  6. Yoel,
  7. Amos,
  8. Ovadiah,
  9. Micha,
  10. Chavakuk,
  11. Tzefaniah,
  12. Daniel,
  13. Chaggai,
  14. Zechariah and
  15. Malachi.

 

Tribes

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XCVII The tribes are enumerated fifteen times in the Torah [together].

 

In The Mishkan

 

The Bne Israel brought fifteen things for the building of the Mishkan:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 25:1 And HaShem spake unto Moses, saying, 2  Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 3  And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 4  And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, 5  And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, 6  Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 7  Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. 8  And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.

 

In The Nazarean Codicil

 

Yochanan (John) 11:17 ¶  Then when Yeshua came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19  And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Yeshua was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21  Then said Martha unto Yeshua, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23  Yeshua saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25  Yeshua said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Mashiach, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28  And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30  Now Yeshua was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31  The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32  Then when Mary was come where Yeshua was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33  When Yeshua therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34  And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35  Yeshua wept. 36  Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37  And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38  Yeshua therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39  Yeshua said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40  Yeshua saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Yeshua lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Yeshua saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

 

Notice that Lazarus was in Bethany while Yeshua was in Jerusalem which was fifteen stadia (furlongs) away. This suggests that the distance between these two cities is the distance between the physical and the spiritual. Bethany representing the physical (life and death of Lazarus) and Jerusalem representing the physical. This is all the more apparent when you realize that it was Chanukah and that Yeshua was in the Temple while Lazarus was dying:

 

Yochanan (John) 10:22 And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

 

Chanukah is the festival where we have the light of creation which is a light which is only spiritual. Thus we see, again, that fifteen represents the ascent from the physical to the spiritual.

 

In Marriage

 

The Gemara in Sotah tells us the following:

 

Sotah 17a Explained Rebbi Akiva: When a man and woman are true to each other, HaShem rests His Divine Presence between them. (This is attested to by the fact that the word for man [Ish] and the word for woman, [Isha] are identical except for the letter “yod” of Ish and the letter “hay” of Isha. Together, these two letters spell out one of the Holy Names of HaShem -Rashi.) If, however, they are not true to each other, a fire will devour them (since HaShem will remove His Holy Name from between them, making the words Ish and Isha each into “Esh,” or fire -Rashi). 

 

HaShem’s Name

 

Only the living call HaShem by the name of yod-hay; the dead are not allowed to do so, as the verse says, “The dead do not praise yod-hay” (Tehillim 115:17). It is a rule that the dead never mention HaShem’s two-letter name.[8]

 

The name of yod-hay represents HaShem as He appears to us in this world, through the veil of nature. This is the yod of the man and the hay of the woman. Since all creatures eventually expire, the continued existence of the world is possible only through reproduction. The bond of man and woman in order to reproduce through marriage is symbolic of nature in general. It is through such a bond, and the natural processes that it represents, that HaShem’s Presence becomes known in this world. As the Gemara said, the Divine Presence of yod-hay rests upon a man and wife who are faithful to each other.

 


 

Seder

Dayenu

Judges

Prophets

Kadesh - the recitation of Kiddush.

If He had brought us out of Egypt.

Othniel

King David in the Book of Tehillim

Urchatz - washing the hands.

If He had executed justice upon the Egyptians.

Ehud

Yeshayahu

Karpas - eating a vegetable dipped in salt-water.

If He had executed justice upon their gods.

Shagmar

Yirmiyahu

Yachatz - breaking of the middle matza.

If He had slain their first born.

Deborah

Yechezkel

Maggid - the recitation of the Hagadah.

If He had given to us their wealth.

Gideon

Hoshea

Rachtza - washing of the hands a second time.

If He had split the sea for us.

Abimelech

Yoel

Motzi - the recitation of the blessing hamotzi.

If He had led us through on dry land.

Tola

Amos

 

Matza - the recitation of the blessing al Achilas matza, eating the matza.

If He had drowned our oppressors.

Yair

Ovadiah

Maror - eating the bitter herbs.

If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for forty years.

Jepthah

Micha

 

Korech - eating a sandwich of matzo and bitter herbs.

If He had fed us manna.

Ibzan

Chavakuk

Shulchan Orech -eating the festive meal.

If He had given us Shabbat.

Elon

Tzefaniah

Tzafun - eating the afikomen.

If He had led us to Mount Sinai.

Abdon

Daniel

Barech - the recitation of grace.

If He had given us the Torah.

Samson

Chaggai

Hallel - the recitation of Hallel psalms of praise.

If He had brought us into the Land of Israel.

Eli

Zechariah

 

Nirtzah - our prayer that G-d accepts our service.

He built the Temple for us.

 

Samuel

Malachi

 

 


 

YYY

 


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.co


 



[1] Tiferet Yisrael, Midot

[2] Sotah 17a

[3] Sotah 49b

[4] Rashi, Yeshayahu 38:11

[5] Pesachim 10:4

[6] From Rabbi Ginsburgh.

[7] Source: The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia. NY: Shengold, 1998.

[8] Rashi, Yeshayah 38:11