Mathematics on the Parashah • Bo • God of Hosts

A new generation, a new Name

“On this very day, all the hosts of God departed the land of Egypt.”[1] Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi explains[2] that this is the first time the word “hosts” (צִבְאוֹת) appears in the Torah. A few centuries later, this word would become a Name of God used extensively by the Prophets, most notably by the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The first individual that used this word as a sacred Name for the Almighty was Channah,[3] the mother of Samuel the prophet. In her famous prayer, she addressed God with the title, “Havayah of Hosts” (הוי' צְבָאוֹת), conjoining God’s essential four letter Name, the Tetragrammaton with this Name. From a halachic point of view, the Name “Hosts” is one of the seven sacred Names of God that may not be erased.[4]

Rabbi Shneur Zalman writes[5] that the Name “Hosts” acts to reveal the infinite aspect of God that is prevalent in the World of Emanation within the spiritual entities—souls and angels—who possess the type of consciousness found in the three lower worlds, Creation, Formation, and Action. As such, we learn that the Name Hosts is what the Magid of Mezritch was referring to when he famously stated, “Atizlut [Emanation] is also here.” The difference between the consciousness of Emanation and that of the three lower worlds is in the degree to which consciousness is separate from Divinity. In Emanation there is no separate consciousness and all consciousness is Divine. In the three lower worlds, there are increasing degrees of separation.

The sages explain that the Name Hosts is related to letters.[6] Indeed, the reduced number value of Hosts (צְבָאוֹת) is 22, the number of letters in the Hebrew alephbet.

Havayah of Hosts, Elokim of Hosts

In Kabbalah the Name Hosts is associated with the sefirot victory (נצח) and acknowledgment (הוד), which in Chassidut are explained as the seat of active and passive confidence in God, respectively. Victory is on the right and considered a relatively masculine faculty (“He is in victory”[7]), while acknowledgement is on the left and relatively feminine (“She is in acknowledgment”). These two sefirot are described in the Zohar as being “outside the body,” an allusion to Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s explanation that this Name extends from the World of Emanation and enters the three lower Worlds.

In particular, the conjunction “Havayah of Hosts” (הוי' צְבָאוֹת) relates to the relatively masculine faculty of victory, whereas the conjunction “Elokim of Hosts” (א-להים צְבָאוֹת) relates to the relatively feminine faculty of acknowledgement. In our mathematical analysis for parashat Shemot we spoke of the concept of pairs of terms or personas in Torah whose values are multiples of 13 and 7, indicating a masculine-feminine relationship. And yet, here we have an opposite example:

The value of “Havayah of Hosts” (הוי' צְבָאוֹת), associated with the masculine victory, is 525, which is the product of 7 and 75, indicating that it is the feminine side of the pair. The value of “Elokim of Hosts” (אֱ־לֹהִים צְבָאוֹת) is 585 (the value of Shifrah, whom we saw in parashat Shemot), which is the product of 13 and 45, indicating that is the masculine half of the pair. This is an example of what is known in Kabbalah as, “Trading Places” (אחליפו דוכתייהו), where the right and left exchange locations (a similar phenomenon is known to occur in genetics, where genes are exchanged between chromosomes).

The complete Name of Hosts

There are four instances (all in Psalms) in which both Havayah and Elokim are conjoined with the Name Hosts. The first instance is in the phrase, “And You, O’ Havayah Elokim of Hosts, bestir Yourself [to bring all nations to account; have no compassion on any treacherous villians, forever]“[8] (וְאַתָּה הוי' אֱ־לֹהִים צְבָאוֹת אֱ־לֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָקִיצָה [לִפְקֹד כָּל הַגּוֹיִם אַל תָּחֹן כָּל בֹּגְדֵי אָוֶן סֶלָה]). The value of this phrase is 1820, the number of instances the Name Havayah appears in the Pentateuch and the product of 70 [faces of Torah interpretation] and 26 [the value of Havayah, הוי'].

The words in this phrase can be divided into two multiples of Havayah by skipping words. The first skip which consists of the four words, וְאַתָּה אֱ־לֹהִים אֱ־לֹהֵי הָקִיצָה, equals 754, or 26 times 29. The second skip which consists of the three words, הוי' צְבָאוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל, equals 1066, or 26 times 41. Looking at this division, we might notice that the square of 29 is the midpoint of the square of 41. The reason for this is that the square of 29, or 841, is also the interface number of 21, which is the sum of the two squares of 21 and 20, but, 21 plus 20 equals 41.

Pairs of 7 and 13 in God’s Names

Let us return to the interesting case of “Trading Places” we saw above between the two conjoinings of Hosts with Havayah and Elokim. Among the Names of God, the two that form a masculine-feminine or 13-7 pair, the most straightforward are Havayah (הוי') and Ekyeh (אֶ־הְיֶה). Havayah is 26, or 13 times 2 and Ekyeh is 21, or 7 times 3. We have already seen that the value when Havayah conjoins with Hosts is 525, which thereby turns Havayah from a multiple of 13 into a multiple of 7 (thus, trading places). What happens when we do the same for Ekyeh? We find that the value of Ekyeh of Hosts       (אֶ־הְיֶה צְבָאוֹת) is 520, the product of 13 and 40. And so, here too, the masculine and feminine have traded places.

To generalize this phenomenon, we need to ask, what other numbers (apart from 499, the value of “Hosts”), when added to Havayah and to Ekyeh, will yield a multiple of 7 and a multiple of 13, respectively. The answer is that beginning with 44, every 91st number will repeat this phenomenon. So for instance 44 plus 26 (Havayah) is 70—a multiple of 7; and, 44 plus 21 (Ekyeh) is 65—a multiple of 13. The numbers are thus:

44, 135, 226, 317, 408, 499, …

Recall once again that 499 is the value of “Hosts” (צְבָאוֹת), which is why we have chosen to end the series here. The first number in the series, 44, is in Kabbalah the number that unifies the two Names, Havayah and Ekyeh. This is because the lowest possible value for a letter-filling of Havayah is יוד הא וו הא, which equals 44 and the “backside” of Ekyeh is א אה אהי אהיה, which also equals 44. In the Arizal’s writings, this is known as the mystery of blood (דם), whose value is also 44.

Another point we can glean from this series is that specific, symmetric,  pairs of numbers are equal to “I will be what I will be”[9] (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה), the full phrase and Name consisting of the Name Ekyeh, whose value is 543. 44 and 499 equal 543; 135 and 408 equal 543; and, 226 and 317 equal 543. We thus find that the sum of these first six numbers in the series is 3 times “I will be what I will be” (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה).

[1]. Exodus 12:41.

[2]. Torah Or parashat Bo, s.v. Be’etzem hayom hazeh (60a). See also the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s essay, “Bati Legani” ch. 10 (the particular chapter studied this year; every year, in a 20 year cycle, the Lubavitcher Rebbe would teach in depth one chapter of the original 20 chapter essays that make up the Bati Legani series left by his father-in-law Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe).

[3]. Berachot 31a: “From the day God created the world, there was no one who called the Almighty “Hosts” until Channah….”

[4]. Shavu’ot 35a-b. Shulchan aruch Yoreh dei’ah 276:9.

[5]. In his essay, Bati Legani from 10 Shevat 5740 (§7), the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains, in the name of the Tzemach Tzedek, the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, that this is Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s innovation, as it does not appear in the Arizal’s teachings.

[6]. See Chagigah 16a and Tikkunei Zohar tikkun 70, “He is a sign [אות, which also means 'letter'] in His myriads.” See also Torah or Vayeishev s.v. Veshavti.

[7]. Zohar.

[8]. Psalms 59:6.

[9]. Exodus 3:14.

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