Thursday, October 12, 2006

Significant Thirteen

(An addition to this post)

The number thirteen is a significant number both in regard to time and amount. Strabo (64 BC-24 CE) writes that Eudoxus of Cnidus (408 BC-347 BC), a Greek philosopher, traveled to Egypt to math, science and astronomy for thirteen years. In a similar vein, the Talmud says that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai studied Kabbalah in a cave for thirteen years[1]. One Amora went to another Amora to request forgiveness for thirteen years[2]. This shows that a "baker's dozen" of years is a significant amount of time. When the Talmud wanted to make a point that there was a significant number of Yeshivas which were learning Tractate Uktzin, the Talmud said that there were thirteen schools learning that difficult tractate[3]. A similar point is made by the Talmud concerning the thirteen synagogues in Tiberias, none of which Rav Ami and Rav Asi prayed in[4].

[1] Shabbos 33b

[2] Yoma 87b

[3] Brachos 20a

[4] Brachos 8a

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