What’s in a number? 5781

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What’s in a number? 5781

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks at the significance of the new year through numbers

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

The Hebrew letters corresponding to the new year, 5781, jumble up to spell some interesting variations on Tav Shin Peh Aleph.

Tashpa contains the root for ashpah, a quiver, which is the ancient symbol of a confident warrior, and later in literary history, a scholar. 

The Psalmist employs this rare root when he declares: “Happy is he who has filled his quiver with these…!” 

In Modern Hebrew, ashpah has come to mean garbage or rubbish, as we say in UK English. 

The tav indicates the future tense and so this year’s indicative letters could read as: “Dump last year’s waste!”  

When jumbled up, Tashpa rereads as tishaf, which is to inhale. 

The Hebrew verb lishof means to aspire after something, indicating the will to achieve. 

Ashaf is the Aramaic word for a magician and appears in the Biblical book of Daniel. In recent history, Ashaf is the acronym in Arabic for the Palestine Liberation Organisation.  

Additionally, eshatef, a further combination of the letters of 5781, means to share or partner up. So perhaps, as if by magic, we can emerge from this last year’s plague and in the Middle East achieve a peace through and with Israel’s neighbours in the Gulf, which will eventually put to rest the unrest in the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

This, indeed, will be a star achievement and cause us to breathe a lot easier. 

The four letters split and taken separately, yield 57 and 81, which spell zan – sustenance – and af – nostrils:  key words representing the economy and the breath of life.  

Coronavirus attacked both, claiming lives through respiratory disease and severely threatening the economy. 

Let us hope that in the coming year there will be a reprieve for the economy through a better state of health for us all. Wishing all our readers a happy and healthy 5781! 

  •   Rabbi Ariel Abel serves Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation and is
    padre to Merseyside Army Cadet Force


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