main postsRosh Hashanah

The Signs of the New Year: 5784

Following our annual custom, let us look at some of the many gematriot—numerical allusions—to the value of the year we are now beginning, 5784 since creation. It is the accepted custom to refer to a year by discounting the thousands. Thus, the upcoming year will be known as 784, or תשפד. Let us look first at a number of occurrences and meanings of the number 784 in the Torah and then consider four-word phrases whose initials are תשפד.

A Year of Power and Potential

Arithmetically, 784 is a square number indicating a state of inter-inclusion (הִתְכַּלְּלוּת). The last time we had a year whose value was a square number was 55 years ago (in 5729, the equivalent of 1969) and the next time will be in 57 years (in the year 5841, the equivalent of 2081).

Specifically, 784 is the square of 28, the value of “strength” or “power” or “potential” (כֹּחַ). 28 is also the value of “yechi” (יְחִי), the first word in the proclamation made by Queen Batsheba before King David, “May my master, King David, live forever”[1] (יְחִי אֲדֹנִי הַמֶּלֶךְ דָּוִד לְעֹלָם).

The word “power” (כֹּחַ) appears in the well-known phrase from Ecclesiastes, “Whatever it is in your power to do, do with all your might”[2] (כֹּל אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא יָדְךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּכֹחֲךָ עֲשֵׂה). The Ba’al Shem Tov explains[3] that this phrase encourages us to connect our actions with our thoughts, specifically to connect the “power of naught,” the power of self-nullification inherent in the sefirah of wisdom with our actions so that our actions are unified with God and imbued with Godliness. This is the power of the soul to unite with God.

We add that since 784 is the square of “power” (כֹּחַ), i.e., the value of “power” times “power,” it refers to this inner power of the soul to unite with God times the power of the body, leading to a unification of body and soul with God. Indeed, the sum of “soul” (נְשָׁמָה) and “body” (גּוּף) is 484, also a square, thus indicating a state of inter-inclusion between the soul and the body.

A Year of the Tzaddik and His Actions

784 is the value of the Biblical phrase, “The action of a righteous man [is for life]”[4] (פְּעֻלַּת צַדִּיק [לְחַיִּים]).[5]

Just the words, “the action of a righteous man” (פְּעֻלַּת צַדִּיק), whose value is 784, also equal  8 times “is for life” (לְחַיִּים), or 8 times 98. But since the phrase, “the action of a righteous man” (פְּעֻלַּת צַדִּיק) has 8 letters, it means that the average value of each letter is 98, or “is for life” (לְחַיִּים). The essential property of the righteous individual, the tzaddik, described in this phrase is that he continually weighs all his actions to ensure that they are bringing life to the world by enlivening others and adding vivacity in whatever he encounters. His intent is that everything should reveal the Divine force that continually brings and it into  and ensures its being.

The value of the entire phrase, “The action of a righteous man is for life”[6] (פְּעֻלַּת צַדִּיק לְחַיִּים) is 882, which is twice the value of “truth” (אֱמֶת) and the double-square of 21, alluded to in God’s Name, “I will be what I will be”[7] (אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה).

In a related mathematical fact, 784 is the sum of a square and a cube. The square is 441, the value of “truth” (אֱמֶת), as above, and the cube is 343, which is 7 cubed, a very important number in Torah describing the increased Godly luminosity of the material realm in the future.[8] Indeed 343 is also the value of “material” (גֶּשֶׁם).

A Year of Gateways

There is another phrase in Proverbs, also involving the righteous, and whose value is 784, “the gates of the righteous” (שַׁעֲרֵי צַדִּיק). Relative to the first phrase, “the action of the righteous,” which describes the tzaddik himself and thus corresponds to the sefirah of foundation (yesod), this second phrase corresponds to the sefirah of kingdom (malchut).

The Year of Methuselah

The central Biblical figure whose name equals 784 is Methuselah (מְתוּשֶׁלַח), the man who had the longest recorded lifespan: 969 years. 969 is itself an interesting number. It is the tetrahedron of 17, or the sum of the triangular numbers from the triangle of 1 to the triangle of 17.[9] 17 is the value of “good” (טוֹב) and the value of “life” (חַיִּים) is 4 times “good” (טוֹב). This goodness was captured in Methuselah’s long life and his lifespan, 969 is also the value of the well-known phrase, “Havayah is good to all and His compassion rests over all His creations” (טוֹב י-הוה לַכֹּל וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו). Methuselah was an exemplar of the principle that the actions of a tzaddik are for life both in terms of his longevity, as noted and in his acting like a perfect tzaddik, who protected his generation from the Flood. Thus, the upcoming year, 5784, will be a year of good actions by the righteous, leading to a long and good life for all.

A Year of Living Waters

Another beautiful phrase whose value is 784 is, “Living waters from Jerusalem”[10] (מַיִם חַיִּים מִירוּשָׁלִַם), describing the wellspring that will emerge from the location of the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount. These living waters—alluding among other things to the Torah’s inner teachings, will heal the entire world and herald the coming of Mashiach, thus bringing about eternal life in the year 5784.

A Year of the Love of Peace

Many holy books make use of a beautiful idiom, “love of peace” (אַהֲבַת שָׁלוֹם), whose gematria is also 784. Thus, in 5784, we have the opportunity to love making peace with one another thereby meriting to attain true peace.

This all occurs in Jerusalem, the city of peace, where the actions of the tzaddik—who is referred to as “peace”—bring about peace.

A Year of Peace, Goodness, and Salvation

The verse, “How beautiful on the mountain are the footsteps of the herald, announcing peace, heralding good, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, “Your God reigns!”[11] (מַה נָּאווּ עַל־הֶהָרִים רַגְלֵי מְבַשֵּׂר מַשְׁמִיעַ שָׁלוֹם מְבַשֵּׂר טוֹב מַשְׁמִיעַ יְשׁוּעָה אֹמֵר לְצִיּוֹן מָלַךְ אֱ-לֹהָיִךְ) is strongly associated with the new year, 5784, because the sum of its central words, “peace” (שָׁלוֹם), “good” (טוֹב), and “salvation” (יְשׁוּעָה), is 784.

Looking at this verse more closely, we note that the value of its first two words is 45 (מַה) and 63 (נָּאווּ), alluding to the rectification of reality through the ability to hold the “lights of chaotic energy within rectified vessels” (אוֹרוֹת דְּתֹהוּ בְּכֵלִים דְּתִקּוּן).[12]

The Phrases for the Year

We now turn to four-word phrases whose initials are תשפד:

The first is: תְּהֵא שְׁנַת פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר,[13] meaning, “May this be a year of the interpretation of things,” a year in which meaning is revealed. The words, פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר, also mean “compromise.”[14]

Another is: תְּהֵא שְׁנַת פֶּתַח דְּבָרִים “May this be a year of freeing our words,”[15] a year in which we can open our mouths and our words shine through.

Another phrase is: תְּהֵא שְׁנַת פְּלִיאָה דַּעַת, “May this be a year of wondrous knowledge.” The words “wondrous knowledge” (פְּלִיאָה דַּעַת) are from Psalms 139:6.

Also, תְּהֵא שְׁנַת פִּקּוּדֶיךָ דָּרַשְׁתִּי, “May this be a year of seeking Your commandments,” echoing the phrase appearing in Psalms 119:45 and 119:94.

A final phrase is: תְּהֵא שְׁנַת פָּדָה בְּשָׁלוֹם נַפְשִׁי, “May this be a year of [God] redeeming me peacefully.”[16] The two letters פד, which begin the word “redeeming” (פָּדָה) also allude to the redeeming of the firstborn son (פִּדְיוֹן הַבֵּן)—“Israel is my firstborn son.”[17]

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet year.



[1]. 1 Kings 1:31.

[2]. Ecclesiastes 9:10.

[3]. Keter Shem Tov (Kehot: 2004 edition), §91.

[4]. Proverbs 10:16. The full verse reads, “The action of a righteous man is for life; the produce of the wicked man makes for want” (פְּעֻלַּת צַדִּיק לְחַיִּים תְּבוּאַת רָשָׁע לְחַטָּאת).


[6]. Proverbs 10:16. The full verse reads, “The action of a righteous man is for life; the produce of the wicked man makes for want” (פְּעֻלַּת צַדִּיק לְחַיִּים תְּבוּאַת רָשָׁע לְחַטָּאת).

[7]. Exodus 3:14.

[8]. Based on Isaiah 30:26 and Pesachim 68a.

[9]. The first 17 triangular numbers are: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, 66, 78, 91, 105, 120, 136, and 153. Their sum is 969.

[10]. Zachariah 14:8.

[11]. Isaiah 52:7.

[12]. 45 represents the rectified vessels and 63 the chaotic energy coming from the World of Chaos, which shattered and broke. The value of the entire verse is 4082, which is the product of 314 and 13, or God’s Name, “Shakai” (שַׁ-דַּי) and “one” (אֶחָד). This product suggests the rectification of reality through the tzaddik’s actions, once again—since Shakai is the Name associated with the sefirah of foundation, the tzaddik, pillar of the world—which limit the ever-expanding nature of creation by revealing God’s oneness.

[13]. The idiom פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר originates in Ecclesiastes 8:1, “Who is like the wise man and who is like one who knows the interpretation of a thing…” (מִי כְּהֶחָכָם וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר).

[14]. Berachot 10a.

[15]. See Rashi on Genesis 16:8. The angel asked Hagar a question he knew the answer in order to free her words—so that she would feel comfortable talking with him.

[16]. Psalms 55:19.

[17]. Exodus 4:22.

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