All sorts of schools ranging from elementary to graduate level are abolishing grades or objective entrance exams such as the SATs. It is not a coincidence that this is happening as less learning and less transmission of verifiable skills take place. Numbers have a funny way of revealing reality. Just as most speedy drivers would rather have no objective way for authorities to measure their speed existed, most educational establishments prefer not to have people know how ineffective they are. Eliminating objective measurement is their sweet solution.
We are currently in the calendar period between Passover (Pesach) and Pentecost (Shavuot) when, for seven weeks, Jews officially count each day leading up to the second Festival. (Leviticus 23:15) This is called Counting the Omer.
Hebrew associates counting with wisdom. The word SoFeR means both someone who counts and also a wise man. Smart people can convert complex circumstances into precise numbers which can then be mathematically compared and analyzed. Numbers can certainly be manipulated, but it is harder to mislead with numbers than with words. A torrent of words easily obscures simple facts and plays to the emotions. It is much easier to figure out the story from the numbers than it is to discover the numbers from the story.
For car enthusiasts like me, advertisements with performance figures are more useful than poetic paragraphs lauding the luxurious leather seating and the rapturous flowing lines of the Italian-designed bodywork. When studying a company’s annual report, the financials and footnotes are more important than photographs of corporate personalities and their headquarters. Revenue figures are more valuable than pages of propagandistic prose.
Jewish tradition is filled with numbers. We maintain and calculate a complex calendar whose months and days have no names but numbers. Today is the 3rd day leading to the Sabbath; next Wednesday is the 19th day of the second month of the year. We count generations, we count money raised for the Tabernacle in Exodus, and we count the dimensions of Noah’s Ark. When those numbers seem absurd, we know that we are supposed to stop and understand what they actually mean. (We work through the second example in our video teaching, The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah.) We even like knowing how many letters there are in the Torah (304,805) as well as how many words (79,847) and verses (5,845).
Numbers convey meaning; often deep meaning. For instance, because the Torah is God’s message to mankind for all places and for all times, we should not be surprised by prophetic insights that flow from analyzing numbers.
For instance, the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was a manifestation of God’s special relationship with the Jewish people. It would be surprising if the Torah contained no hint of that forthcoming event. The civil year of 1948 corresponds to the Hebrew year, 5708.
Let’s examine the 5,708th verse of the Torah:
The Lord your God will bring you into the land
which your fathers possessed and you shall possess it…
Last week, the modern State of Israel celebrated its 75th birthday. There is no doubt that the land of Israel functions under a Divine umbrella, where its inhabitants’ actions trigger an exceptional supernatural response. However, for all nations, prosperity, and tranquility in a civilized society is hard to preserve; it is the exception, not the default. Positive forces are all too easily replaced by chaos, crime, economic stress, and ultimately tyranny. A smooth-working, prosperous, and tranquil country is maintained by adherence to timeless truths of spiritual reality. Among these is acknowledging how the world really works and measuring it accurately and with numeric objectivity.
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