The Significance of the Number Thirty

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


The beginning of one’s mission. 2

Priests. 3

In Halacha. 4

The Captive Woman. 4

One Who Is Excommunicated. 5

Shekels. 5

In Regards To Mashiach. 6

Mourning. 7

In The Calendar. 7

Pesach. 7

Shavuot 8

Purim.. 8

Rosh HaShana. 8

The Lunar Month. 8

Shehekiyanu. 10

Temporary Things. 10

Mezuzah. 10

Traveler’s Prayer 10

Matza. 10

In The Wilderness (Meat) 11

Tzitzith. 11

Lending. 11

On Seeing A Friend. 11

In A Torah Scroll 12

In The Body. 12

The menstrual cycle. 13

Hair 13

In the Soul 14

Sexual Intercourse. 14

In The Census. 14

As A Gift 14

A Time For Repentance. 15

Plants. 15

 

In this study I would like to learn the meaning and significance of the number thirty (30) from a Torah perspective.

 

In Hebrew we represent the number thirty with the Hebrew letter lamed - ל.

 

The first use of the number thirty (שלושים) in the Torah is:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

 

In this first usage, of the number thirty, we see that it is used to describe Adam’s age when he begot a son. It is used in conjunction with the number one hundred (100) which suggests another connection to Mashiach. (See our study on TEN, which is the complete manifestation of ten in this world – 10 X 10 = 100.)

 

The number three is used in the Torah to mediate between two opposing or contradictory values. The third value mediates, reconciles, and connects the two. Thirty is three times ten, which suggests a connection between three and thirty. In some way, thirty represents reconciliation at a higher level. The classic example was Aharon the priest who spent time reconciling husbands and wives.

 

From this first usage it appears that the number thirty speaks to a transition, and reconciliation.

 

In the Mishna, the number thirty was the age of strength. The Mishna indicates that at the age of thirty, one has attained full strength.

 

Avoth Chapter 5 MISHNAH 21. HE USED TO SAY: FIVE YEARS [IS THE AGE] FOR [THE STUDY OF] SCRIPTURE, TEN-FOR [THE STUDY OF] MISHNAH, THIRTEEN-FOR [BECOMING SUBJECT TO] COMMANDMENTS, FIFTEEN-FOR [THE STUDY OF] TALMUD, EIGHTEEN- FOR THE [BRIDAL] CANOPY, TWENTY — FOR PURSUING, THIRTY-FOR [FULL] STRENGTH,[1] FORTY — FOR UNDERSTANDING, FIFTY- FOR [ABILITY TO GIVE] COUNSEL, SIXTY-FOR MATURE AGE, SEVENTY-FOR A HOARY HEAD, EIGHTY [IS A SIGN OF SUPERADDED] STRENGTH, NINETY [IS THE AGE] FOR [A] BENDING [FIGURE], AT A HUNDRED, ONE IS AS ONE THAT IS DEAD, HAVING PASSED AND CEASED FROM THE WORLD.

 

This power to begin transforming the world in earnest begins when we turn thirty. Up until that point we are in training. The Midrash Shmuel[2] states that one has the ability to guide and influence others for good at the age of thirty. Until then, he is simply laying his foundation.

 

Thus we see that the age of thirty is also a time of transition as one moves to his greatest strength from a time of growing strength. His ability to reconcile others to their place in the world and their position with HaShem has risen to its greatest strength.

 

The beginning of one’s mission

 

We see that the Torah tells us that thirty is the age when Joseph began to rule in Egypt.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 41:46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

 

Now one might ask:  What is the primary task of a king? Surely we must answer that a king’s primary task is to administer justice, to be the highest judge of the land. In this position, a king reconciles men to their fellow and men to HaShem. The litigants are in a place of transition from being estranged to being reconciled. This is why Joseph began to reign as king at the age of thirty.

 

Kingship is reflected in the number thirty, as the Mishna states that there are thirty attributes to kingship.

 

Avoth Chapter 6 BARAITHA 5. GREATER IS THE TORAH THAN THE PRIESTHOOD AND THAN THE KINGSHIP, SEEING THAT THE KINGSHIP IS ACQUIRED IN [THE FORM OF] THIRTY DISTINCTIONS…

 

The name Yehuda[3] has a gematria of thirty and Yehuda was the king of the tribes, and from Yehuda descended the true kings of the Jewish people.

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 49:9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10  The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

 

Thus Judah (Yehuda - יְהוּדָה) by his very name, with a value of thirty, exemplifies kingship.

 

Mashiach ben David is also a descendant of Yehuda. As a king, He will also provide laws for the Gentiles. Today the Gentiles have the seven Noachide laws. However, when the King Mashiach comes there will be thirty laws for the Gentiles, according to the Midrash.

 

Ketubim - Midrash Psalm 21    I. For the leader. A Psalm of David. The king shall joy in Your strength, O Lord (Ps. 21:1-2). These words are to be read in the light of what Scripture says elsewhere: In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the peoples; unto him shall the Gentiles seek[4] - that is, seek the king Messiah, David's son, who will remain hidden until the time of redemption. R. Tanchuma said: The king Messiah will come for no other purpose than to teach the Gentiles of the earth thirty  precepts, such as those of the Booth, the Palm-Branch, and the Tefillin (Phylacteries).[5] But all the children of Israel will be taught precepts of Torah by the Holy One Himself, blessed be He, for it is said All your children shall be taught by the Lord.[6] Why not by the Messiah? Because of the Messiah it is said: Unto him shall the nations seek.

 

Priests

 

The three sons of Levi, and their descendants: Kohath, Gershon, and Merari, were given the responsibility for the service in the Tent of Meeting, as priests. This service began at the age of thirty as it was their job to reconcile men to HaShem through the teaching of Torah and ministering in the Temple. The priests were responsible for the transition that men experience when they draw near to HaShem.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:1 And HaShem spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 2  Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, 3  From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:21-23 And HaShem spake unto Moses, saying, 22  Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, throughout the houses of their fathers, by their families; 23  From thirty years old and upward until fifty years old shalt thou number them; all that enter in to perform the service, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:29 As for the sons of Merari, thou shalt number them after their families, by the house of their fathers; 30  From thirty years old and upward even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, every one that entereth into the service, to do the work of the tabernacle of the congregation.

 

The Levi'im began their service of HaShem at the age of thirty. This age suggests that they were transitioning from secular to Divine service. They were taking on a work with eternal ramifications. As we noted earlier, the first High Priest, Aharon, was famous for his ability and desire to reconcile people to each other and to HaShem.

 

If we examine the Tanakh[7] for those who began their ministry at the age of thirty, disregarding the priests for a moment, we see only a few individuals. Lets first enumerate these individuals:

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 41:46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

 

2 Shmuel (Samuael) 5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.

 

Luqas (Luke) 3:23 And Yeshua himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

 

These three individuals have one thing in common: They all were, or will be, kings over the Jewish people. At the age of thirty, each of these three men became king. They transitioned from commoners into Kings! At thirty they began to reign as the chief judge of the land who’s job primarily entailed reconciling a man to his fellow, and a man to HaShem. These three men were also pictures of Mashiach ben David who would be the ultimate King over the entire world.

 

Yeshua was anointed on His thirtieth birthday, though His kingdom has yet to be revealed. The interesting part of His last hours before death was his sale for thirty shekels.

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15  And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16  And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

 

Thus we learn that as Yeshua was transitioning between Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David, He was associated with thirty. As He was about to be called a king, we find the number thirty.

 

Mordechai (Mark) 15:26 And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

 

As Yeshua was reconciling the Gentiles to HaShem, there we find the number thirty.

 

Curiously, Jewish priests and kings were the only ones anointed to their office.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 28:41 And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.

 

Shoftim (Judges) 9:8 The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.

 

1 Shmuel (Samuel) 15:1 Samuel also said unto Saul, HaShem sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of HaShem.

 

Thus we learn that this anointing was primarily an induction to an office of reconciliation that would assist men in their transition from estrangement to reconciliation.

 

In Halacha

 

Shochtim, Jewish ritual slaughterers of animals and poultry, are required to review the halachic rules that are pertinent to their craft at least once every thirty days. This is the halacha. This suggests that one begins to forget the details of his learning if he does not renew them within thirty days. Men tend to transition to lower levels of understanding without regular renewal of their learning.

 

The Captive Woman

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:10-13 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and HaShem thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 12  Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; 13  And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.

 

Chazal, Rashi, and other commentators work with the premise that marrying an idolatrous beautiful captive woman should be avoided in any way possible. The Hakhamim[8] were very aware of man’s weakness especially in a time of war. Therefore they allowed a soldier to sleep with an idolatrous woman once. They derive this from the fact that the torah says, ‘vlakachta’ in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:11 and does not describe the bringing her into the house until verse 12. The reason for permitting this man to sleep with her during battle is to squelch his desire in the hope that he then will not need to marry her.

 

In the event that this man still desires the idolatrous woman, he is told to bring her into his house, shave her head, grow her nails long, remove her seductive clothing, dress her clothing of mourners, and not touch her for thirty days as she sits and cries, in the hope that he will find her unattractive and no longer desire her after that time. All this is to prevent the man from bringing in an idolatrous woman to his house.

 

Thus we see that the thirty days were set in order to transition a man from strong desire to a total lack of desire. In thirty days a man could become reconciled to the differences between a Jew and a non-Jew, despite his desires.

 

One Who Is Excommunicated

 

Rav Yosef cites a braita: One who has been excommunicated can teach others and they can teach him; he can be hired by others and others can work for him. However, one who has been placed in cherem (one who has been excommunicated twice for thirty days) cannot teach others and they cannot teach him; he cannot be hired by others and others cannot work for him, but he should study by himself in order not to interrupt his studies; he may also make a small store for a source of revenue.

 

From this we understand that thirty days is the length of time it takes for a man to transition, to realize his error and come to repent. It takes thirty days for a man to be reconciled to HaShem and to his fellow, even when he is seriously estranged.

 

Shekels

 

Shemot (Exodus) 31:32 If the ox gore a manservant or a maidservant he (the owner) shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver.

 

When the person killed is a (Canaanite) bondman or bondwoman, the text fixes the fine, payable to the owner, at thirty shekels, without regard to the value of the slave.

 

Regardless of the monetary value of the Canaanite slave (or maidservant), the owner of the ox is only required to pay the master of the slave thirty shekels. What is the basis for this fixed amount regardless of the monetary value of the slave?

 

The Sforno explains that the significance of the thirty shekels is derived from the laws of eirchin

(innate value for consecration). If a person wishes to consecrate their innate value (eirich) to the Beit HaMikdash, the Torah establishes a monetary scale that represents each person’s innate value based on age and gender. The Sforno says that the thirty shekels given for the Canaanite slave is derived from the eirich (or innate value) that the Torah places on a Jewish woman who wishes to consecrate her value to the Beit HaMikdash. A Jewish man who wished to consecrate his innate value, would be obligated to give fifty shekels to the Temple.

 

The Gemara tells us that a Canaanite slave, although he is not a Jew, is obligated in all the mitzvot of a Jewish woman. Thus he is not obligated in all time related mitzvot.[9] Therefore if the ox killed a Canaanite slave, what value was lost from the world? A person with the mitzva potential of a Jewish woman. Thus the value that the owner of the ox is required to pay is thirty shekels since the loss to existence is the loss of a person who had the mitzva value of a woman. We see from this that the Torah determines the true value of a person based not on their market value but rather on their spiritual value derived from their mitzva potential.

 

The tractate of Appraisals discusses the laws presented in chapter 27 of Leviticus: “...If a man make a singular vow, to give to HaShem the estimated values of persons, then the estimation shall be as follows: For a male from twenty to sixty years old, the estimation shall be fifty shekels of silver...” In other words, if a person pledges to give to charity, but instead of citing a sum he says “I promise to give the value of this individual,” we are to follow a fixed rate table set by the Torah, in which each age and gender group is assigned a certain “value.”

 

Let us now address the various estimated values of a woman. Obviously, the criterion for a woman is different than that for a man, since from the biblical perspective a woman has no seed; she is considered a passive participant in the process of conception.[10] Therefore, we must explain the differences in the monetary estimations in a different way.

 

We have already mentioned above that the sum of thirty shekels, the maximum value of a woman at the strongest stage of her life, is noted in the Torah in a different context:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 21:32 If the ox gores a servant or a maidservant, he shall pay the sum of thirty shekels to the master.

 

We may deduce from this that when it comes to a woman, her value is indeed determined in accordance with her capacity for work. We noted above that the retirement age, as mentioned with regard to the Levi'im, is fifty; it is reasonable to posit that the division of ages was determined according to this criterion for men, and the Torah saw no reason to create a different division for women. Therefore age remains as the only factor, and for women, once again, there is no discussion of subjective categories of work capacity, etc.

 

We now have a satisfactory answer concerning the discrepancy in the ratio between the values of men and women at different stages of life. The entire problem proceeds from the assumption that the scale for both is the same. But if in fact there are two separate scales, fertility, in the case of men, and work capacity in the case of women, then it is indeed logical that the same ratio is not maintained at every stage of life. It is quite conceivable that work capacity does not diminish after the age of sixty in as drastic a fashion as fertility does.

 

Where a woman’s body is in a constant state of transition, a man’s body does not fluctuate month-to-month. Where a woman is constantly reconciling her children to her husband and the rest of the world, the husband leaves the reconciling largely up to his wife.

 

In Regards To Mashiach

 

Why did the apostate priests in Jerusalem correctly valued the life of Mashiach ben Yosef as equal to thirty Temple shekalim of silver – i.e. the valuation of a woman?[11]

 

Matityahu (Matthew) 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15  And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16  And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

 

Mashiach is the head of the ‘congregation’, speaking of a woman.[12] The head must also be female. Additionally, Mashiach, the word, is a feminine gendered word, as are Shekinah and Chakma.[13] Mashiach also exhibits the feminine quality of unconditional love.

 

I’d suggest that the value of thirty shekels applies to both Meshichim (Mashiach ben Yosef and Mashiach ben David) because they are both the head of the congregation that is ‘female’.[14] Both Meshichim are feminine (the word ‘Mashiach’ is a feminine word).

 

In a larger sense, the thirty shekels also hints to the fact that the death of Mashiach ben Yosef is at a transitory stage where He will give forth to Mashiach ben David.

 

Mourning

 

We find in the Torah that thirty days is a period of mourning for someone who is very special.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 20:29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel. The entire house of Israel mourned Aaron for thirty days.

 

Zevachim 100b What was Rabbah son of R. Huna's [teaching]? — It was taught: The day when one learns [of a near relation's death] is as the day of burial in respect of the laws of seven and thirty [days’ mourning];[15]

 

The second phase of mourning is for thirty days (the first phase lasts seven days). That is because, in nature, renewal requires a minimum of a chodesh,[16] a period of one month.

 

We're taught that after thirty days, a soul ascends to a higher realm while the mourners lighten their sorrow to some extent. As such, it is customary to hold a memorial at this stage to share memories, learn, and pray in honor of the departed.

 

Hakham Ovadia Yosef[17] points out that mourners have to grow their hair at least for thirty days and some do so for twelve months.

 

Thus we see that the mourners are in a state of transition as they reconcile themselvees to the loss of their loved one. We, therefore, find the number thirty associated with them.

 

The niftar,[18] the one who died, is also in a state of transition between the world of physicality and the spiritual world. The niftar must be reconciled to HaShem and he must reconcile his sins. We, therefore, find the number thirty associated with them.

 

In The Calendar

 

Pesach

 

The obligations of the month of Nisan already begin thirty days before Pesach,[19] when Jewish communities begin to collect for those in need “wheat money” for the matzot.[20]

 

Bechoroth 58a The laws of the Passover are discussed and expounded thirty days before Passover.

 

As we approach Pesach, we need to begin to transition in preparation for the feast. This transition involves intense study into the laws of Pesach.

 

The Pesach lamb is also associated with the number thirty:

 

Pesachim 64b R. Isaac said: The Passover offering was not slaughtered except in three divisions each consisting of thirty men. What is the reason? ‘Assembly’ ‘congregation,’ and ‘Israel’ [are prescribed, and] we are doubtful whether [that means] at the same time or consecutively.[21]

 

The Pesach sacrifice must be allocated to thirty men. This suggests that there is a transition and a reconciliation taking place. The Torah teaches us that on Pesach we transition from slavery to freedom. We must be reconciled to HaShem rather than a slave master.

 

The Torah institutes a second Pesach offering for those who missed out on the first Pesach. Thirty days after Erev Pesach (when the lamb-sacrifice was offered), opportunity was given for those who were unprepared for the first Paschal lamb to make up for having missed it. Anyone who had been defiled from contact with the dead, or had been unable to make the journey to Jerusalem, would have to come for the Pesach Sheni.

 

Its celebration thirty days later, on Iyar 15, suggests that the celebrant is also making the same transition that most Jews make when they prepare for Pesach, thirty days before the feast.

 

Shavuot

 

The sixth of Iyar, is the beginning of the days of preparation, of transition, for the sixth of Sivan, the festival of Shavuot, the “Season of the Giving of our Torah.” Yom Ha’Atzmaut is thirty days before Shavuot, the time that one starts learning the halachot of Shavuot and the freedom associated with it. Thirty days before a festival we begin its preparations, and the sixth of Iyar is thirty days before Shavuot. Hence, today Jews must begin making preparations for the “Season of the Giving of our Torah.” This festival is one of the most important matters for Jews, since their goal is to learn the Torah and fulfill the mitzvot which were given then. And when the preparations are proper, then, when the “Season of the Giving of our Torah” comes, each of you will say “We will do and we will listen,” and will undertake to learn Torah and fulfill mitzvot the whole year, with great enthusiasm, joy, and a good heart.

 

Purim

 

The festival of Purim always falls thirty days before Pesach.

 

Sanhedrin 12b Raba said to R. Nahman: Let us consider! Between Purim[22] and the Passover there are thirty days, and from Purim we begin to lecture on the laws of Passover, as has been taught: People must begin to inquire into the Passover laws thirty days before the Festival. R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: A fortnight before. If, then, it [sc. Passover] is postponed at the beginning of the month [of Nisan],[23] people[24] will be liable to disregard the law regarding leaven [on Passover]. — He [R. Nahman] answered him: It is well-known that the intercalation of a year depends on [minute] calculations, hence they would say that [the declaration was not made until the thirtieth day] because the Rabbis had not completed their calculation until then.

 

Thus we understand that Purim begins a time of transition to the freedom of Pesach. It is a time for us reconcile ourselves as slaves to sin and begin the transition to free men.

 

Rosh HaShana

 

It is customary for Jews to begin their spiritual preparation, our transition, for the High Holy Days thirty days before Rosh HaShana. During the month of Elul, the final month of the Hebrew calendar, people traditionally take on various ritual practices, including the recitation of special prayers and psalms, the sounding of the shofar,[25] studying materials relating to the subject of teshuva,[26] and reconciling with our family, friends, and neighbors.

 

The Lunar Month

 

The Jewish nation was instructed to bless and sanctify each new month. The month is the period of time it takes for the moon to complete a revolution around the earth. On the average, this takes 29.5 days. As we only have complete days in a month, some months contain 29 days, and other contain 30.

 

A month, in the Torah, is either twenty-nine or thirty days, however. thirty is the totality of the lunar cycle from ebb to ebb.

 

The terminology of the Talmud is that the month can either be Malleh - full, or Chasser - missing. A full month is thirty days long[27] and a missing month is 29 days long.[28] The Sanhedrin would declare the new month based on the testimony of two witnesses, during Temple times. Today the new month is sanctified using a fixed calendar built by Yehuda HaNasi shortly after the destruction of the Temple.

 

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis X:4 Similarly, there is a planet which completes its circuit in twelve months, e.g. the sun; another completes its circuit in twelve years, viz. Jupiter; yet another completes its circuit in thirty days, viz. the moon; still another completes its circuit in thirty years, viz. Saturn;

 

The following picture depicts the moon’s cycle:

 

The impact of this process was profound. Depending upon when the Sanhedrin would proclaim the start of the new month would determine when the various holidays would occur. If the month of Adar[29]  was missing[30] then Pesach would start on the 15th of the month of Nisan, let's say a Tuesday. However, if the month of Adar would end up being Full[31] then Pesach would start on the 15th of Nisan, which would then be Wednesday. This meant that the Paschal Lamb, the eating of matza, and the prohibition against eating chametz, would start and end a day earlier or a day later. The same would be true for Tishri and the fast of Yom HaKippurim. Depending on when the Sanhedrin would declare the new month of Tishri would determine whether the previous month of Elul was 29 or 30 days long. This is in turn would determine whether we fasted on Yom HaKippurim a day earlier or a day later.

 

The transition between a waning and a waxing moon is a moon that is normally invisible because the moon is not reflecting any of the sun’s light. From this we learn that on the thirtieth day of the moon’s cycle, the moon in transition. This suggests that the number ‘thirty’ signifies a transition.

 

The Gemara teaches us that a month is a pars-pro-toto for an entire year in regards to planting.

 

Rosh HaShana 10b R. Johanan said: Both of them [R. Meir and R. Eleazar] based their views on the same verse, viz., And it came to pass in the one and six hundredth year, in the first month, on the first day of the month.[32] R. Meir reasoned: Seeing that the year was only one day old and it is still called a year, we can conclude that one day in a year is reckoned as a year. What says the other to this? — [He says that] if it were written, ‘In the six hundred and first year’, then it would be as you say. Seeing, however, that it is written, ‘In the one and six hundredth year’, the word ‘year’ refers to ‘six hundred’, and as for the word ‘one’, this means ‘the beginning of one’.[33] And what is R. Eleazar's reason? — Because it is written, ‘In the first month on the first day of the month. Seeing that the month was only one day old and it is yet called ‘month’, we can conclude that one day in a month is reckoned as a month; and since one day in a month is reckoned as a month, thirty days in a year are reckoned as a year, a month being reckoned by its unit and a year by its unit.

 

Thus thirty days is also the potential transition between two years.

 

Shehekiyanu

 

The Avudraham tells us that we recite the "Shehekiyanu" blessing at the advent of every Festival which returns cyclically, the cycle must be more than thirty days in duration. Hence, we neither recite "Shehekiyanu" on the Festival of the New Moon[34] nor, obviously, on the Sabbath, which comes every eighth day. The reason he gives is quite compelling: if a festival appears again within a thirty day period, its advent is not anxiously anticipated, it becomes part of the natural rhythm of life, and so it does not engender the excitement necessary for a Shehekiyanu.

 

This suggests that we say Shehekiyanu at a time of tranition from the mundane days to the celebration of a festival.

 

Temporary Things

 

Mezuzah

 

The reason a regular tenant does affix his mezuzah for the first thirty days is due to the temporary, or transitional, nature of his residence. One who signs a lease for a longer period has committed to a more permanent residency.[35]

 

Menachoth 44a So, too, it was taught in a Baraitha: He who stays at an inn in the Land of Israel or who rents a house outside the Land [of Israel] is, for the first thirty days, exempt from mezuzah, thereafter he is subject to it. But he who rents a house within the Land of Israel is bound to affix a mezuzah forthwith, in order to maintain the settlement in the Land of Israel.[36]

 

Traveler’s Prayer

 

For which journeys should one recite tefillat haderech?[37]

 

When traveling at least 4.7km (2.9 miles) beyond the outskirts of the town.

 

What if he missed the first opportunity?

 

Thus we see that the time for saying this prayer is while the problems of travel are fresh in the mind. After thirty days we have reconciled the danger of travel and have transitioned to the safety of our homes.

 

Matza

 

Matza[38] is the equivalent of manna in that it broadcasts the Hand of HaShem. The Torah tells us that our ancestors ate manna for forty years. The sages asked how this might be true if they ate matza for the first thirty days of their journey and they explained that our ancestors enjoyed the matza as much as they did the manna. Indeed, both contained that same other world quality.

 

Kiddushin 38a Another [Baraitha] taught: ‘And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years’. Did they then eat [it] forty years: surely they ate it but forty years less thirty days?[39] But it is to teach you that they experienced the taste of manna in the cakes which they brought forth from Egypt.

 

All they ate was matza, but this simple food miraculously nourished and sustained them for thirty days. Every time they ate it they were reminded that theirs was not a simple eating experience, but a miracle orchestrated by HaShem. The matza lasted for thirty days so that the Bne Israel would know that they would transition from miraculous to miraculous!

 

In The Wilderness (Meat)

 

After the Exodus, the Bne Israel grew tired of the manna and they asked Moshe to bring them some meat:

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 11:11 And Moses said unto HaShem, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?12  Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?13  Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.

 

HaShem brought them meat for thirty days, but it was NOT a good thing.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 11:16 And HaShem said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. 17  And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. 18  And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of HaShem, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore HaShem will give you flesh, and ye shall eat. 19  Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; 20  But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised HaShem which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?

 

After this event the people never again asked for meat. They learned to value the manna. They had made the transition between their way and HaShem’s way.

 

Tzitzith

 

Tzitzith are required on all four cornered garments.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 15:38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: 39  And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of HaShem, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

 

The Gemara elaborates on this mitzva by telling us that there is an exception to this requirement.

 

Chullin 110b A borrowed coat is, for the first thirty days, exempt from the zizith.’

 

Thus a garment that is in transition from one owner to the next, does not require tzitzith.

 

Lending

 

Makkoth 3b It is when one lends his friend some money without specifying a date [for repayment], in which case he may not demand repayment of him for thirty days, at least.

 

On Seeing A Friend

 

Berachoth 58b R. Joshua b. Levi said: One who sees a friend after a lapse of thirty days says: Blessed is He who has kept us alive and preserved us and brought us to this season. If after a lapse of twelve months he says: Blessed is He who revives the dead. Rab said: The dead is not forgotten till after twelve months, as it says: I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind; I am like a lost vessel.[40]

 

In A Torah Scroll

 

Maimonides gives the size of the regular Torah  scroll as seventeen fingers long, seventeen being considered a beneficial number (טוב = 17). Every line should be long enough to contain thirty letters.

 

Menachoth 30a Our Rabbis taught: A man should use sheets [of parchment] which contain from three to eight columns; he should not use one which contains less columns or more.[41] And he should not put in too many columns[42] for it would look like an epistle, nor too few columns[43] for the eyes would wander;[44] but [the width of the column should equal] the word lemishpehothekem written three times (30 letters).[45]

 

We can see that this line length rule is designed to keep the eyes from improperly transitioning to a new line.

 

If an error is found in the scroll it must be corrected and re-examined by a competent person within thirty days; if three or four errors are found on one page the scroll must be placed in the genizah.[46]

 

Menachoth 29b R. Joseph said, Rab gave two rulings in connection with scrolls [of the Law] but to each there is a refutation. The first is this: Rab said, If a scroll of the Law has two mistakes in every column it may be corrected, but if three, it must be hidden away. And the refutation [is from the following]. It was taught: If three it may be corrected, but if four it must be hidden away.

 

An unfit sefer torah must either be repaired or stored away in thirty days.[47]

 

An invalid scroll is put away lest it be inadvertently used. If it is corrected it must be re-examined within thirty days so that the scroll can transition from inactive to active status. It can then be returned to use in the Esnoga.[48]

 

When scrolls are found, they must be used lest they become moldy or moth eaten. This thirty day period suggests that a Torah scroll can also transition from useable to un-usable, in thirty days.

 

Baba Metzia 29b MISHNAH. IF ONE FINDS SCROLLS, HE MUST READ THEM EVERY THIRTY DAYS;[49] IF HE CANNOT READ, HE MUST ROLL THEM.[50]

 

In The Body

 

Man has 248 limbs, in his body, they are as follows: Thirty bones in the foot, six in each toe. Then, ten bones in the ankle, two in the lower leg, five in the knee, one in the thigh, and three in each hip. There are eleven pairs of ribs. The hand has thirty bones, six in each finger. There are two bones in the forearm, two in the elbow, one in the upper arm, and four in each shoulder. This yields a sum of 102 bones on each side, for a total of 204.

 

Besides these, there are another 46 limbs. These include the eighteen vertebra of the spine, nine bones in the head, and eight in the neck. There are also six in the "gateway to the heart," which is the chest, and another five at the outside orifices. The total is 248 limbs.

 

Clearly the feet, with their thirty bones, are used to carry us through this transitory world. Our hands allow us to perform mitzvot in this transitory world. These appendages allow us to perform spiritual function with physical tools. They are the organs of transition between these two worlds.

 

The menstrual cycle

 

The menstrual cycle is the scientific term for the physiological changes that can occur in fertile females. Overt menstruation (where there is blood flow from the uterus through the vagina) occurs primarily in humans.

 

The length of each phase, of a woman’s menstrual cycle varies from woman to woman and cycle to cycle. Although common usage refers to the average menstrual cycle as typically 28 days, a large study of more than 30,000 cycles from more than 2300 women came to the result that the mean cycle length was 29.1 days.

 

There is a halachic presumption that women generally menstruate once a month.  Therefore, the average interval[51] between menstrual periods, is thirty days.

 

Niddah 9b What is the length of an ‘onah? — Resh Lakish citing R. Judah Nesi'ah replied: A normal ‘onah is thirty days; but Raba, citing R. Hisda, replied: Twenty days. In fact, however, there is no difference of opinion between them. One Master[52] reckons both the clean and the unclean days[53] while the other Master[54] does not reckon the unclean days.

 

In Orthodox practice, the wife must immerse herself in the mikveh monthly following her menstrual cycle in order to resume marital relations. Thus we see that from mikveh to mikveh is thirty days.

 

Thus we see that a woman’s body undergoes a transition in her menstrual cycle after thirty days. The uterus goes from a time of the death of the egg to the time when she ovulates with a new egg. It is well understood that the menstrual cycle of a woman closely parallels the cycle of the moon.

 

Rosh Chodesh has long been considered a special holiday for women. Some say that this is because the women of Israel did not offer their jewelry for the creation of the Golden Calf.[55] As a result, they were given Rosh Chodesh as a day when they could abstain from work.[56] To this day, some women refrain from some forms of labor on Rosh Chodesh. Others have connected the waxing and waning of the moon to a woman's menstrual cycle. Both are in a constant state of transition.

 

Hair

 

The Torah treats hair in different ways depending on the person.

 

Sanhedrin 83a The following are liable to death [at the hands of Heaven]: One who ate tebel, an unclean priest who ate undefiled terumah, a zar or an unclean [priest] who performed [the Temple service], or one who performed it on the day of his ritual bath,[57] or lacking the proper [priestly] garments, or lacking the [sacrificial] atonement,[58] one who did not wash his hands and feet, or drank wine, or a priest with over-grown locks.[59]

 

A priest may not let his hair grow for thirty days without trimming, whereas the nazir must let his hair grow at least thirty days. The priest’s hair is temporary whereas the nazir’s hair is permanent.

 

Sanhedrin 22b ‘The Common Priest, once in thirty days,’ because it is written: Neither shall they shave their heads nor suffer their locks [pera’] to grow: they shall only poll their heads.[60] Identity of law is deduced from [the use of] pera’ here and in the section on the Nazirite; here it is written, They shall not let their locks [pera’] grow; while there it is stated, He shall let the locks [pera’] of the hair of his head grow long;[61] Just as there, [a] thirty days’ [growth is meant], so here too. And we also learnt:[62] The period for unspecified neziruth is thirty days. Whence do we deduce this in the other passage?? — R. Mathna said: Scripture states, He shall be [yihyeh] holy; the gematria of yihyeh being thirty.[63]

 

The nazir was to remain in his holy state for thirty

days, the minimum number of days for nezirus stam, a non-specific nazarite vow. Chazal derive the number thirty from the word yiheyeh = יהיה, the numerical equivalent of thirty. One who so wishes, can take upon himself the nazarite vow for a standard period of thirty days.

 

By neziras (vow of a nazir) the Torah doesn’t offer a time frame; the Torah never lists a limit as to when a person should end his neziras. The Mishna tells us that stam neziras is for thirty days and its learned out from a gematria, but the Torah never clearly states when a person should end his neziras.

 

In the Soul

 

7 Shevat: According to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer cited in Midrash Yalkut Shimoni, Moshe Rabbeinu died on this date. Even according to the more widely accepted view that Moshe Rabbeinu passed away on the seventh of Adar, this date is significant because the soul undergoes a change thirty days before a person dies.[64]

 

Sexual Intercourse

 

One who deprives his wife of sexual intercourse: Bet Shammai say two weeks, Bet Hillel say one week. Students may go off to study Torah without [the spouse's] permission for thirty days... What is required by onah as stipulated by the Torah?

 

Kethuboth 61b STUDENTS MAY GO AWAY TO STUDY THE TORAH, WITHOUT THE PERMISSION [OF THEIR WIVES FOR A PERIOD OF] THIRTY DAYS; LABOURERS [ONLY FOR] ONE WEEK. THE TIMES FOR CONJUGAL DUTY PRESCRIBED IN THE TORAH ARE: FOR MEN OF INDEPENDENCE, EVERY DAY; FOR LABOURERS, TWICE A WEEK; FOR ASS-DRIVERS, ONCE A WEEK; FOR CAMEL-DRIVERS, ONCE IN THIRTY DAYS; FOR SAILORS, ONCE IN SIX MONTHS. THESE ARE THE RULINGS OF R. ELIEZER.

 

In The Census

 

When counting the Bne Israel, HaShem told Moshe to count only those who have reached the age of twenty years old.  However when counting the Levi'im, Moshe was commanded to count all children that had reached thirty days old.  Why? The simple answer is that this was the age when sons of the tribe of Levi were to be counted in the census (Numbers 3:15). Rashi maintains that it is at the age of one month that a child becomes a viable life.

 

Thus after thirty days a child transitions from an indeterminate state to a viable state.

 

As A Gift

 

According to Devarim (Deuteronomy) 15, whoever dismisses his Hebrew man servant or maid servant must not send either of them away empty-handed, but must provide a parting gift. This law, however, does not apply to the following: a man who has sold himself; a servant sold by the court, who hastens his freedom by redeeming himself at a price reduced by lapse of time; one who has run away from his master, and who while at large has become free through the jubilee. A Baraita[65] fixes the value of the gift at thirty shekels (this being the average value of three cited in as many opinions); and it should be made "from thy flock, thy thrashing-floor, and thy wine-press," i.e., in products, the visible blessing of HaShem, not in money or in clothing. The literal meaning of the verb used in reference to this parting gift in the text seems to be "to hang round the neck."


Redemption

 

Pidyon haben, the redemption of a firstborn son, after he is thirty days old.

 

Bamidbar (Numbers) 18:15-16 Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto HaShem, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem. 16  And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shalt thou redeem, according to thine estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.

 

In Jewish law it was only upon reaching thirty days that there was a solid presumption that the child would actually survive.

 

Niddah 44b R. Simeon b. Gamaliel who ruled: Any human child[66] that survived for thirty days cannot be, regarded as a miscarriage,[67] from which it follows that if he had not lived so long he would have been a doubtful case? — Here we are dealing with the case of a child concerning whom it is established that the months of his pregnancy were duly fulfilled.

 

Bechoroth 51b If the son died after thirty days although he has not yet given the redemption money, he is bound to give it.

 

HaShem instituted the redeeming of the firstborn. When a firstborn son is thirty days old, the father would give five sela'im, or the value of five sela'im, to the firstborn who were working as priests, doing the holy service. Then the firstborn son was allowed to do mundane, secular work, but he was still privileged to do the Holy Service.

 

A Time For Repentance

 

Elul is the last month in the Jewish calendar. We are to spend this month preparing for the upcoming High Holidays. Because G-d judges and sentences the entire world on Rosh HaShana and Yom HaKippurim, it is only fitting that we try to correct our flaws and repent before that time. That way, when we come before G-d for judgment on these festivals, we will find favor in His eyes (assuming our repentance was sincere) and be judged for a good year.

 

With only twenty-nine days left in the year, Elul is a time of yearning, forgiveness and return. The thirtieth day is Rosh HaShana. Elul is, therefore, a time of transition from being estranged from HaShem to drawing near to HaShem.

 

Paro became the King of Nineveh and led his people to repentance when he was informed through the Prophet Yonah that G-d would destroy Nineveh in thirty days if the people do not repent. Yonah began preaching on Elul one.[68] Thus the people of Nineveh were at a point of transition. Their repentance proved that Para had learned the lesson taught by Moshe and was able to lead his people in repentance.

 

Plants

 

Every single plant is unique and has its own unique roots in the supernal world. There are thirty species of fruits of trees. Ten of them correspond to the ten sefirot as revealed in the world of Beriah. They are far from impurity and close to supreme "world" of Atzilut. For that reason the corresponding fruits have no husk or peel either inside or outside. They are eaten just as they are. Examples are grapes, figs, apples and pears....

 

 

* * *

 


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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[1] Thirty was the age at which a Levite entered upon his full duties which comprised the work of service and the work of bearing burdens (Num. IV, 47); these duties being so comprehensive and arduous required the possession of full physical faculties i.e. if Scripture thus considers thirty the age for strength. V. also ibid. VII, 9.

[2] Pirke Avot 5:22

[3] Yehuda is the Hebrew form of the name Judah.

[4] Isaiah 11:10

[5] According to our tradition, Talmud Yerushalmi Avoda Zarah 2:1, 40c and Genesis Rabbah 98:9, where the number thirty is given, besides the six commandments given to Adam, twenty-four more will be given to the Gentiles in the time of the Messiah, thus making the total of 30.

[6] Isaiah 59:13

[7] Tanakh is an acronym for Torah (law), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings) which are the major divisions that Christians call the “Old Testament”.

[8] Rabbis

[9] A slave (Gentile – Canaanite) is obligated to many mitzvot because he live in Israel. But, he is NOT obligated to time dependent mitzvot, just like a woman. A woman is not obligated to time dependent mitzvot because of her obligations to the house, husband, and children which preclude time to obey time dependent commands.

[10] For this reason we usually find childbirth described as an act that the woman performs for her husband: "Avraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sara had BORNE TO HIM, Yitzchak" (Bereshit 21:3); "It was told to Avraham, saying: Behold, Milka has also BORNE sons TO NACHOR, your brother" (ibid. 22:20); "Rachel saw that she HAD NOT BORNED TO YAAKOV" (ibid. 30:1), etc. Needless to say, with the changing reality – and the change in the patriarchal view of the family, changes have taken place in this view as well, as evidenced by Chazal's teachings in various contexts, such as, "Our Rabbis taught: there are three partners in [the creation of] a person: the Holy One, and his father, and his mother. When a person honors his father and mother, the Holy One says, I consider them as though I have dwelled among them, and they have honored Me'" (Kiddushin 30b).

[11] cf. Lev. 27:4 & Zechariah 11:12

[12] Ephesians 5:22-33

[13] Wisdom

[14] Ephesians 5:22-33

[15] One must observe deep mourning for seven days after the burial of a near relation, during which time he must not work, bathe, or wear his shoes. A lighter mourning is observed for thirty days after burial, such as not putting on new garments or attending festivities. If a person learns of such a relation's death within thirty days, he must observe the seven and the thirty days’ mourning from the day that he learnt it.

[16] ‘Chodesh’ means renewal.

[17] Yechave Da’at II, 2

[18] A niftar is one who is divested of responsibility as the dead are no longer obligated to perform mitzvot.

[19] Passover

[20] Matzot is unleavened bread.

[21] And each expression denotes a minimum of ten.

[22] Feast celebrated on the fourteenth of Adar in commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews from the plot of Haman, as recorded in the Book of Esther.

[23] Through the institution of a second Adar, the lecturing on Passover laws having already begun.

[24] Not believing the report of the messengers that an intercalation had been made. — Raba's assumption that the messengers might be disbelieved, would seem to show that there were enemies of the Jews who might seek to upset the calendar. Cf. p. 52, n. 9 on the attitude of the Roman authorities to intercalation.

[25] The ram's horn

[26] Teshuva means return or repentance.

[27] Our two day Rosh Chodesh

[28] Our one day Rosh Chodesh

[29] The month before Nisan

[30] 29 days long

[31] 30 days long

[32] Bereshit (Genesis) 8:13.

[33] I.e., it merely gives the date, but gives no indication that a day can be counted as a year.

[34] Rosh Chodesh, which comes every twenty-nine or thirty days.

[35] Menachot 44a

[36] The rule that the tenant must fix the mezuzah will deter him from leaving the premises since he would not be permitted to remove it on leaving; v. B.M. 102a. Furthermore, even if he were to leave the premises the house would soon be let again because of the advantage of its having mezuzoth affixed.

[37] The travelers prayer.

[38] Unleavened bread

[39] For they came to the wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth of the second month (Exodus 16:1), complained of the lack of food (ibid. 2f.), and received the manna on the following day (ibid. 6f, 13). As they ate it until the sixteenth of the first month forty years later, these forty years were short by one month.

[40] Ps. 31:13. A thing is not given up as lost till after twelve months.

[41] As each sheet was sewn to the others it is advisable for the sake of utility not to have the seams too near or too far apart from each other.

[42] I.e., the maximum number of columns (8) in a small sheet.

[43] I.e., the minimum number of columns (3) in a large sheet.

[44] For the length of the line in each column would he unduly large and the eyes would stray so that the reader would be in doubt as to which line he must read next.

[45] למשפחותיכם. I.e., thirty letters.

[46] A geniza is like a burial place where damaged documents, of a sacred nature, are buried.

[47] Ketubot 19b (Yad, Sefer Torah 7:12; Shulchan Arukh Yoreh De'ah 279:1)

[48] The synagogue

[49] If left unused longer, they become mouldy and moth eaten.

[50] To give them an airing.

[51] onah beinonit

[52] Resh Lakish.

[53] I.e., the interval between one period and another which is thirty days.

[54] Raba.

[55] Shemot (Exodus) chapter 32.

[56] TJ, Ta'an. 1:6, 64c

[57] Tebbul Yom. Lit., ‘one who immersed during the day’. An unclean priest purified himself by taking a ritual bath: yet even then he could not officiate until after sunset.

[58] A priest who became unclean through the dead was sprinkled with the ashes of the red heifer mixed with water; then he took a ritual bath; and on the eighth day of his uncleanliness, he offered a sacrifice, which made atonement for him. Before this, he is regarded as one ‘lacking atonement’, and may not officiate.

[59] I.e., who has not trimmed his hair for thirty days or more.

[60] Ezekiel 44:20.

[61] Numbers 6:5

[62] In support of the statement cited. Cf. Nazir 5a.

[63] The numerical value of יהיה is 10+5+10+5=30.

[64] see Korban Netanel, paragraph 20, to Pesachim ch.10

[65] Kidoshin 17a

[66] Of doubtful premature birth.

[67] Thirty days being a period that suffices to establish the viability of a child.

[68] Jonah 3:1-10