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The Essence of the Year 5783

(Based on a class given by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh)


A few weeks ago, on Rosh Hashanah, we celebrated the 5783rd anniversary of mankind’s creation. It should be a year of new light[1] and blessing for the whole world. Our custom is to investigate the meaning of the new year and what we should be concentrating on. We do this by seeing to what the number of the year relates. We are in the 6th millennium, and we are now going to be starting the 783rd year of this millennium. So, we will contemplate the number 783.

The Great Wonder

Before we look at the meaning of 783 in the Torah, let us begin by looking at a phrase or other important concept that is alluded to by the letters of the year. The Hebrew form for 783 is תשפג and we are looking for an acronym that fits these letters. The first two letters—תש—are always interpreted as, “May it be a year of” (תְּהֵא שְׁנַת). Thirty-some years ago, when we were in the years known as the nunim—the years that began with תשנ—the nun (נ) was understood to stand for “wonders” (נִפְלָאוֹת).[2] Now that we are in the years that have a pei (פ) as their next letter, we interpret it as standing for the singular form of “wonders,” or “wonder” (פֶּלֶא). It is most natural for the gimmel (ג) to stand for “great” (גָּדוֹל).[3]

So, the simplest acronym for this year—תשפג—is “May it be a Year of Great Wonder” (תְּהֵא שְׁנַת פֶּלֶא גָּדוֹל). The “Great Wonder” that we are anticipating this year is the coming of Mashiach, who is related to the word “wonder,” since Isaiah calls Mashiach the “wondrous counselor” (פֶּלֶא יוֹעֵץ), which itself equals the word “physician” (רוֹפֵא).[4] The Mashiach is the expert physician who comes to heal us from all our ailments. He achieves this with the Torah. So that is the simplest thing we should have in mind and pray to Hashem that we merit seeing it with our physical eyes this year.

Oneness in Creation

Now we turn to the significance of the number 783. We have over the years considered many numbers and presented a model or partzuf of the different meanings associated with that number by looking at different words or phrases whose value is that number. Like every number, 783 has many different possibilities, but perhaps the deepest meditation of 783 is a unique phenomenon in the Torah. For now, we will only look at this particular meaning associated with 783.

In the account of Creation, the word “one” (אֶחָד) appears exactly three times. In the first day, it appears at the end of the account, “God called the light day and the darkness night and there was evening and there was morning, one day”[5] (יוֹם אֶחָד). The consciousness of Creation was all one on that day. It doesn’t say “the first day,” but “one day” because there was only pure Divine consciousness.

The second instance is at the beginning of the third day with the culmination of the creation of the waters from the second day with the separation of the higher and lower waters by the firmament. Then on the third day, the lower waters gathered so that land could appear. The Torah relates, “God said, ‘Let the waters collect to one place….’”[6] (מָקוֹם אֶחָד). This is the second instance of “one,” the waters were concentrated into one space. The second appearance of “one” is related to space.

The third and final appearance of “one” in the account of Creation is on the sixth day after God created man and man felt himself alone, and God created the female from the male. Then the Torah says, “Therefore [from now on, for all generations], the man will leave his father and his mother and he will cling to his wife and they will become one flesh”[7] (בָּשָׂר אֶחָד). According to the Ibn Ezra,[8] “one flesh” refers to “the physical union of husband and wife.” But Rashi[9] says that the absolute oneness achieved by the couple is manifest in their offspring born from the two of them together. The offspring is the “one” from the father and mother. This statement is on the sixth day of creation.

Incredibly, each of the three verses that contain the three instances of the word “one” that we have just seen has 13 words, where 13 is of course the value of “one” (אֶחָד).

Now the point of course is that the sum of these three phrases, “one day” (יוֹם אֶחָד), “one place” (מָקוֹם אֶחָד), and “one flesh” (בָּשָׂר אֶחָד) is 783, or תשפג, the value of our year. We have the entire year to contemplate this very important phenomenon, which we will begin looking at now. Our main message is that this new year, 5783, is an auspicious time for revealing God’s oneness throughout creation. As we will see in another installment of this topic, we are tasked with revealing God’s oneness in the three dimensions of space (“one place”), time (“one day”), and psyche (“one flesh”).

Oneness and Goodness

One of the first things to contemplate is the connection between “one” (אֶחָד) and “good” (טוֹב). Technically, the motivation for looking at this connection is that “one” transforms into “good” using the Atbatach transformation[10]: א transforms into ט, ח transforms into ב, and ד transforms into ו.

The connection between “one” and “good” runs contextually deeper. The first instance of “good” in the Torah is in reference to the light that was created on the first day, “God saw that the light was good.” It was the light that then became the “day” of the first day of creation, the “one day,” as we have seen. All the good of Creation thus emanates from that first light that became day.

Furthermore, the first phrase, “one day” appears in the account of the first day of creation. As we saw, the first day also contains the first instance of “good.” The second phrase, “one place” appears in the account of the third day of creation, which is the first time that the word “good” appears twice:

God said, “Let the waters underneath the heavens be gathered into one place….” God called the dry land earth…. God saw that this was good. God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation….” God saw that this was good.[11]

Though the third phrase, “one flesh,” appears in the second account of Creation (in chapter 2), it refers to the creation of man, which was on the sixth day. Indeed, with regard to the sixth day, we find that “good” is mentioned twice (just like on the third day). But on the sixth day, it says, “good” in reference to the creation of the animals, and then it says, “very good” (טוֹב מְאֹד) in relation to all of Creation, just after the creation of man because man’s consciousness contains all of Creation.[12] The word “very” (מְאֹד) is itself a permutation of “man” (אָדָם).

Altogether, we have 5 instances of “good,” 4 times in the form of “good” (טוֹב), and once as “very good” (טוֹב מְאֹד). Their sum is 130, which means that the average value of each instance of “good” is 26, the value of Havayah, God’s essential Name, about which the Torah tells us that “Havayah is one.”

Click here to read part 2 of this series


[1]. See Tanya, Igeret HaKodesh, ch. 14.

[2]. See the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s discourses on the dates of the 28th of Av, 5749 (section 8) and of the 28th of Nissan, 5751 (section 1), and elsewhere.

[3]. Indeed, the first gimmel in the entire Torah is in the words, “the great luminaries” (Genesis 1:16), indicating the essential relationship the letter gimmel has with the word “great.”

[4]. See also Wonders, issue 2, p. 2.

[5]. Genesis 1:5.

[6]. Ibid. v. 9.

[7]. Ibid. 2:24.

[8]. On Genesis 2:23.

[9]. On Ibid. v. 24.

[10]. In the Atbach (אטב"ח) transformation the letters (including the 5 final letters מנצפך) are grouped into three groups of 9 letters. 3 letters, הנך are left over without a pairing. The three groups can be ordered as follows: [אט  בח  גז  דו  ה]  [יצ  כפ  לע  מס  נ]  [קץ  רף  שן  תם  ך]. The mathematical principle is that the pairs in the first group each sum to 10, the pairs in the second group sum to 100, and the pairs in the third group sum to 1000. If the 5 final letters are left out, the groupings are: [אט  בח  גז  דו  ה]  [יצ  כפ  לע  מס  נ]  [קת  רש], and the pairs in the third group sum to 500 instead of 1000. The Atbach transformation corresponds to the sefirah of kingdom.

[11]. Genesis 1:9-12.

[12]. “He [God] also puts eternity/creation in their [mankind’s] mind” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

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