By Rav Eytan Feiner
It dominates society, surrounds us incessantly, and descends upon us from all sides. The almost magical and mystical number seven constantly occupies the spotlight on the world’s stage, exerting its stellar influence on countless aspects of our lives. To better understand and appreciate the significance of “seven,” let’s start with the individuals who fostered its fame, then journey onward and survey seven’s sundry manifestations.
We rewind to the world’s beginning, turning first to the following segment of an original ma’aracha entitled, “From Royalty to Redemption,” a piece I penned revolving around the personalities of Yaakov and Dovid:
Adam ha’rishon sadly failed to surmount the sole obstacle placed in his path in order to bring the world to a state of completion. Death descended upon the world in the wake of Adam’s tragic foible, and his once eternal life was now reduced to one thousand years. With limited time on his hands to repent his error, we are initially shocked to read the words of Chazal that Adam requested to give seventy years of his life to a future child that was not destined to live even a day. That child, of course, was Dovid ha’melech, originally dealt the fate of a miscarried fetus.
How could Adam do such a thing? If G-d presented him with a thousand-year life, then surely those years were needed to somehow fulfill his own personal taphkid. To then give them away- and to an individual who would only arrive on the scene many years later? And if he deemed it so important, why only seventy years-but a mere snippet of Adam’s lengthy lifespan?
Clearly he sensed that his full tikkun could only be achieved via the assistance of what only a Dovid could provide: Dovid ha’melech would ultimately be the one to bring the exalted concept of malchusa di’raki’a back down to the world. Though initially intended to be Adam’s mission, he sadly erred to the degree that the world would now have to wait close to three thousand more years before sampling what Malchuso Yisbarach is all about. The Avos, of course, would begin the gradual process of tikkun, doing their utmost to rectify the damage wrought on the heels of Adam’s sin. But the fourth wheel of G-d’s chariot carrying His sovereignty the world over- and thus the completion to the work of the Avos– would only appear when Dovid began his eternal dynasty.
The “King” of “Sevens”
For such a task, albeit a consequential one, Dovid needed only seventy years. The number seven, writes the Maharal, represents the idea of completion, satisfaction (shiv’a=s’vi’a, both words comprised of identical letters) in the mundane world, in the realm of tevah, and seven in the tens thus represents a complete life. As Dovid himself would later attest: “The days of our years among them are seventy years…” (Tehillim, 90:10). The mishna in Pirkei Avos (5:21) notes that the milestone attained at the age of seventy is “sei’va,” a word closely resembling that of “s’vi’a,” and thus connoting “fullness of years.” R’ Ovadia MiBartenuro even cites the example of Dovid who lived seventy years and about whom we read in Divrei HaYamim (I, 29:28): “Va’yamas bi’sei’va tova, si’va yamim…” In but one complete lifespan, Dovid would bring to the world a mu’sag of true malchus.
And he received his seventy years specifically from Adam: “Adam” is comprised of an “aleph” juxtaposed to the word “dam“; when broken down, the “aleph,” composed of two yuds and a vav, yields twenty-six, while “dam” equals forty-four-together producing seventy…
Perhaps we might further add that to succeed, however, he would need to marry Bas-sheva, a woman-the only one, in fact, named for a number- whose name seems to tell us nothing whatsoever of her essence. But that’s irrelevant. Because her true essence was precisely that– to be a “bas-sheva,” a “daughter” to “seven,” a woman “born” to “seven” and its connotation regarding what a sense of shi’leimus is all about. Dovid ha’melech would ‘complete’ Adam ha’rishon, would take over where Adam left off, but for such a task this “ben–sheva,” the seventh son of his father, Yishai, needed “Bas-sheva” by his side.
Only together could they produce Shlomo, could they bring a concept of shi’leimus to the world: The letters comprising Shlomo’s name even spell the word “ha‘sha’leim” (the– with the ‘heh ha’yedi’a‘- complete one)… The Maharal (Chiddushei Aggados, Bava Basra 91b) writes that Shlomo represented “malchus Dovid bi’shleimus” and that is precisely why he was called “Shlomo”/shleimus. Shlomo himself would also have seven different names (see Shir HaShirim Rabba, 1:1; Koheles Rabba, 1:2)), and write about a tzaddik‘s falling specifically seven times (Mishlei, 24:16- “Ki sheva yi’pol tzaddik v’kam“), and the seven things that Hashem detests (Mishlei, 6:16- see Rashi). Clearly viewed as a grave mistake, Shlomo also married seven hundred wives who were noblewomen (along with three hundred concubines).
There were six steps leading up to his majestic throne (Melachim I, 10:19)-and he sat atop the throne on the seventh step. After all, when he arose to power, he already found that “the world was bi’shleimus and with a constantly full moon” (Zohar, vol. 2, 29b), and shleimus is repeatedly symbolized by the number seven. Emerging from this grandiose ki’sei malchus on both sides were seven golden menorah-like branches; the images of seven “avos ha’olam” were portrayed on one side, with those of seven “chasidei ha’olam” appearing on the other side (Targum Sheini on Esther, 1:2).
Among the rebellious individuals that Dovid ha’melech faced, one person worried him even more than his wayward son Avshalom (Shmuel II, 20:6). This was an “ish bi’li’ya’al” (ibid., 20:1), a worthless fellow, who initiated a fierce revolt to rid Dovid of his malchus-a man by the name of Sheva ben Bichri. With Bas-sheva at his side, Dovid built the solid foundation of an everlasting sense of malchus; along the way, however, he first had to quash the challenge posed to his kingship by someone who wanted the malchus of “sheva” and shleimus all for himself. Quite fascinating indeed…
But there is still yet more. The Beis HaMikdash, the palace of the King of all kings, highlighted G-d’s sovereignty to people the world over. Shlomo eventually erected the grand edifice, but it would really always be credited to his father- “Mizmor shir chanukas ha’bayis li’Dovid“– the melech who yearned for nothing more than to fashion a worthy home for the Shechina, to manifest the full glory and splendor of G-d’s Malchus down here in this world. It was Dovid who earlier imbued the place with kedusha, while his son, Shlomo, would merely build the physical structure. Its sacred doors would thus only open to welcome the holy aron when Shlomo would invoke the merit of his father (Shabbos 30a, Moed Katan 9a). How fascinating then, to turn to the gemara in Sanhedrin (107a) and find that Bas-sheva was destined to wed Dovid from the six days of creation. Already way back then? Certainly. Just before the emergence of Adam ha’rishon was the stage already set in place for Dovid and Bas-sheva to unite and produce Shlomo (ha’sha’leim) who would build the King’s palace and bring in its wake a profound degree of shi’leimus to the world.
There were, quite expectedly, seven gates through which to enter the Beis HaMikdash (Yuma 19a)-the house associated with Dovid-and it contained therein the sacred Menorah with seven branches (Menachos 28a); a seven-string harp (Erchin 13b); seven branches in the encircling design for each checker-work placed atop the pillars (Melachim I, 7:17 (and Rashi)); seven liquid measures (Menachos 87b); seventy different types of vessels (Medrash Tad’shei, #10); and a Kohen Gadol who sprinkled the blood of the korbanos on Yom Kippur seven times. How long did it take for such a grand edifice to be built? As we might have guessed-exactly seven years and seven months! (Melachim I, 6:37-38)
Upon its completion, it was only with the arrival of the seventh month, Tishrei, when the actual dedication took place (ibid., 8:2)-and the accompanying festivities lasted for “seven days and seven days, totaling fourteen days” (ibid., 8:65)… Seven days to celebrate the actual inauguration, and another seven to celebrate the Yom Tov of Succos.
The Davidic dynasty was designated to rule over Eretz Yisroel, a land inhabited by seven nations and praised as possessing seven special species of produce. It would take seven years to conquer such a land, and an additional seven to divide among the shevatim (Zevachim 118b). Even upon first entering Eretz Yisroel, it was necessary for seven kohanim to encircle the city of Yericho seven times on the seventh day while holding seven shofros (Yehoshua, 6:4). Its sovereignty understandably belonged to Dovid and his scions, the progeny of this unique king of “sevens”. But the dominion of Dovid together with his son, Shlomo, was not just over the seven nations inhabiting Eretz Yisroel. It was over all seventy of the nations of the world: “she’shaltu shi’nei’hem al a’yin u’mos” (Bamidbar Rabba, 13:14).
As his malchusa di’ar’ah and its eventual taste of shi’leimus got set to commence, Dovid would have to first head to Chevron-lashon chibbur, connecting to, and the o’siyos ha’fuchos of “churban“- as Chevron represented the antithesis of destruction and separation. It was there that he connected to, united with, the Avos and began his kingship, ruling for- you guessed it, seven years…(Shmuel II, 2:11; 5:5).
Any coincidence, therefore, that Dovid ha’melech is our seventh guest who visits our succah annually as the last in the line of ushpizin– corresponding, naturally, to the seventh day of Succos. After all, he is the king of “sevens”- and appropriately so- for “malchus” is the seventh middah of Hashem, the seventh of the lower seven sefiros, the metaphysical emanations manifest in the world. And “malchus” (written chaser ‘vav‘) yields a gematria of 490, the numerical equivalent of 7x70.
Perhaps that explains why the tagin, the “crowns” adorning many of the letters in Tefillin, Mezuzos, and Sifrei Torah, appear somewhat like a miniature za’yin and are therefore even sometimes called “zi’yunin” (za’yins)-Menachos 29b. To quote the Rambam (Hilchos Sefer Torah, 7:8), “kol ha’tagin ki’tzuras zaynin,” all the crowns atop the letters have the form of a [little] os zayin. If certain letters will at times be ornamented with special “crowns,” is it not appropriate that these crowns take the form of the very letter whose gematria equals seven. Malchus is the seventh middah/sefira, kingship is represented by crowns, and zayin is the seventh letter of the Aleph-Beis. The Rambam (ibid.) even adds that a letter can have as many as seven of these treasured crowns…
The navi Michah (5:4) highlights the “shiv’a ro’im,” seven shepherds (or leaders- Metzudos Dovid), whose collective merits in guiding the Jewish People will bring us to the days of mashiach (and thus it warrants mention at the close of our Ma’oz Tzur liturgy). When Chazal list their respective names in Succah (52b), Dovid is seen as the crucial bridge linking them all together and, from a chronological standpoint, is not surprisingly number seven. Even as a young shepherd, Dovid’s prowess and Divine assistance were already highlighted with his conquest of seven animals, four lions and three bears (Medrash Shmuel, #20). Maseches Derech Eretz Zuta (end of chapter 1) mentions the seven “avos ki’rusei bris,” forefathers who established covenants with HaKB”H, and-yet again-it is Dovid who occupies the seventh and final spot.
And the correlations continue: His seventy years come to a close and he passes from this world on none other than Shavuos, the festival that follows- and is even named for- the seven week period following Pesach. And the day he departed was also Shabbos, the seventh day of the week when we call seven people up to the Torah, and the day corresponding to the seventh middah/sefira, that of malchus – “Shabbos Malkisa.” The day of Shabbos itself- the “melech” of the entire week- writes the Ben Yehoyada (Moed Katan 16b), corresponds to Dovid. Hence, in all of Shas where better to discuss the details of his demise but in Maseches Shabbos (30a-b), the one dealing with the laws of the seventh day of the week…
In the twenty-ninth perek of Dovid’s Tehillim, we witness seven mentions of the “kol Hashem” (29:3-9), the chapter concluding with, “Hashem oz li’amo yi’tein,” Hashem‘s granting strength-“oz“=77-to His nation. And, as explained in Brachos (29a), the seven brachos of our Shabbos Shi’moneh Esrei correspond to these seven kolos. Dovid ha’melech is Shabbos, is all about the number seven-and thus the seven brachos contained in the Shi’moneh Esrei of this seventh day will expectedly correspond to his seven mentions of the “kol Hashem.”
And finally, we turn to the gematria of Dovid’s name-how appropriate indeed: Fourteen, the notion of seven doubled over… That same number, writes Rabbeinu Bechaye (Vayeishev, 38:30), also alludes to his being the fourteenth (7x2) generation from Avraham Avinu who began illuminating the world with the Torah’s wisdom. Based on a medrash, the Gra adds that the name’s gematria also highlights that Dovid had fourteen “to’vos” and fourteen “ra’os” affect him during his lifetime.
This was, after all, the essence of Dovid, the king of sevens, the king of all kings down here in our o’lam ha’tevah, a world characterized by the recurring motif of the number seven. This was the Dovid renowned for masterfully playing the seven musical notes on a seven-string harp (Erchin 13b), the seven strings-notes the Maharsha-corresponding to this special number seven marking completion and holiness in this world: Shabbos, shemitta, sefiras ha’omer, etc. And from which pasuk in Dovid’s own Sefer Tehillim does the gemara deduce that the harp in the Mikdash was one of seven strings? “So’vah s’machos es pa’necha” (16:11)-al tikri ‘so’vah’ e’lah ‘sheva‘…Regarding especially Dovid, who lived ‘sei’va‘ years and died ‘bi’sei’va tova,’ so’vah, fullness, and sheva, seven, are indeed one and the same…
Catching a quick glance now at the medrash in Bamidbar Rabba (15:11), is it any coincidence that it was Dovid himself (along with Shmuel ha’navi) who fashioned the Leviim’s harp of precisely seven strings…
…And Carrying Us Through to the Days of Mashiach
The Arizal and the Rama MiPhano both point out that “Adam” is rashei teivos, an acronym for, Adam, Dovid, and Mashiach. Dovid ha’melech is thus viewed as the mi’mutzeh, the man in the middle who would continue where Adam ha’rishon left off, while at the same time help carry us through the final stages of tikkun— up to the days of Mashiach and the final redemption. With a mere seventy years in tow, Dovid would be mashlim the Adam ha’rishon who generously gave him the precious gift of life. The Arizal even adds that Dovid was, in fact, a gilgul of Adam. Fascinating, as well, is the Zohar (vol. 2, 33a) that when Dovid reached the age of thirteen, he proclaimed: “Hashem said to me, ‘You are my son, I have begotten you this day‘” (Tehillim, 2:7). Adam ha’rishon was the “ye’tzir ka’pav,” the handiwork of G-d Himself, kaviyachol, and we find the same idea- when Dovid reached the age of da’as– that, he, too, as the hashlama to Adam, was likewise therefore “begotten” by G-d. Any surprise, therefore, to find that the mispar katan gematria of “ha’Adam,” the original man, is 14-the very same gematria, of course, as Dovid’s name…
In Divrei HaYamim we read of Dovid ha’melech‘s last days. As chapter 28 of the first book commences, we encounter Dovid having assembled all the leaders of the Jewish People to tell them of his desire to build the Beis HaMikdash, as he was the one chosen “to be king over Israel forever.” It is there that we find: “And Dovid stood up al raglav and said…I had in my heart to build a house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant of Hashem, vi’la’hadom raglei Elokeinu…” (pasuk 2). When Dovid’s descendant will finally arrive to finish the process that his saintly ancestor had set into motion, then indeed Mashiach ben Dovid will be the one standing strong on both his legs, reflecting the figurative raglei Elokeinu on their grand footstool in their full glory and splendor…
“Va’yakam Dovid ha’melech al raglav” (Divrei HaYamim I, 28:2). That will depict the hashlama of what Adam ha’rishon was initially created to accomplish. Any surprise that, after having been endowed with a neshama, it was only in the seventh hour of his first day alive that Adam, “a’mad al raglav“…(Avos d’R’ Nosson, 1:8) and entered Gan Eden (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 19). It started specifically in the seventh hour of his life in this world of te’vah, but the final “standing firmly on his legs” would only be really complete when the king of sevens who lived but seventy years would get set to leave the world’s stage…
Adam, Dovid, and Mashiach= “Adam“. The very name “Adam” itself, explains R’ Samson Raphael Hirsch, is phonetically related and alludes to the phrase in Sefer Yeshayahu (66:1), “…Vi’ha’aretz ha’dom raglai“-man on Earth below is the “footstool” of G-d, the resting place of the Shechina and the one charged with being the transmitter and bearer of G-d’s infinite glory in the world. In a certain sense, man can only act as the “footstool” of the figurative “legs” of G-d once he first arises to stand on his own two legs: as described in the choice terminology of Chazal, Adam ha’rishon began his life’s mission only after “standing on his legs.” But only after Dovid “stood on his legs” and declared how he had plans in his heart to build a house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant of Hashem, and “la’hadom raglei Elokeinu…”-followed with Mashiach‘s arrival to one day reveal the glory of G-d like never before-will “Adam”‘s taphkid of serving as the “ha’dom raglai” of HaKB”H reach fruition.
The “Av” of “Sevens”
Although Dovid clearly left his mark as the archetype of the number’s influence, Yaakov Avinu also has numerous ties to the number seven: He received seven brachos from his father Yitzchak (and through them, seven kochos of kedusha), and then left his father’s home at the age of seventy-seven (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 35). He bowed before Eisav seven times (Vayishlach, 33:3-see Ba’al HaTurim), fled from Lavan and traveled for seven days (Vayeitzei, 31:23-see Rashi), and descended into galus Mitzraim with a total of seventy people (Vayigash, 46:27; Shemos, 1:5; Eikev, 10:22). In the midst of his trek to Egypt, Hashem appeared to Yaakov/Yisroel in a dream, and there appears on top of the letter “sin” of the name “Yisroel” seven ta’gin (crowns). The Ba’al HaTurim (Vayigash, 46:2) explains that the seven ta’gin allude to seven tzaros that Yaakov endured in his lifetime. He built a seventh altar, completing the work of the Avos who collectively built and sacrificed upon seven miz’bi’chos. And he was the seventh tzaddik, writes Rabbeinu Bechaye, to build a miz’bei’ach.
Yaakov first wed at the age of 84, 7 x12 (the number of sons he would eventually produce), and, together with his two principal wives, they brought the total of Avos and I’mahos to seven, to a sense of completion. He first had to work seven years-twice-in return for Rachel and Leah’s respective hands in marriage, and with Leah (ultimately his primary child-bearing wife) he produced seven children (six boys, one girl). Leah begot all her children in the seventh month of pregnancy, and all of Yaakov’s children (except for Binyamin) were born to him in a span of seven years (Seder Olam Rabba, chapter 2; Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 36)-and in parshas Vayeitzei, the seventh parsha!
His name yields a gematria of 182, the same as the Sheim Havayah (26) multiplied by seven. Throughout his lifetime, Yaakov was blessed a total of 7 times in 7 different places (Medrash Tad’shei, #5). And he lived a total of 147 years (21x7), representative of a chazakah of shi’leimus, as 147= 49 (7×7) repeated three times. Not surprisingly, he was mourned upon his death for seventy days (Vayechi, 50:3). He was a “tam” and a “sha’lem” and longed to disclose the end of days when a sense of shi’leimus will finally descend upon the world-the end that must arrive by the onset of the “eleph ha’shevi’i,” the seventh millennium.
But he couldn’t succeed until Dovid, the true king of sevens, ascended the world’s stage. Dovid understood he must continue where Yaakov left off, and thus penned his monumental Sefer Tehillim comprised-according to Maseches Sofrim (16:11) and the Yerushalmi Shabbos (16:1)-of 147 perakim, corresponding to the years of Yaakov’s life. After citing the ma’amar Chazal in his commentary on parshas Vayechi (47:29), the Ba’al HaTurim then adds: “HaKB”H said to Dovid, ‘you wrote 147 mizmorim corresponding to the years of Yaakov. You will therefore merit the same-just as Yaakov and his son [Yosef] ruled together, so too will Shlomo, your son, rule in your lifetime.'” Because Dovid wrote 147 Tehillim he will live to witness the continuity of his malchus through his son Shlomo? Precisely. He understood fully well his unique task to follow the 147 year old Yaakov’s lead in bringing a sense of perpetual malchus into the world. And thus we have encountered a unique chain linking Adam to Yaakov and, ultimately, to the melech Dovid who would bring them all together.
Exploring the Pervasive Presence of “7”
The “king of sevens” and the “Av of sevens” appear to have special ties to this specific number. In truth, however, the number’s powerful presence is felt continuously by us all-it is, quite literally, all over the place…
Sit back and enjoy the following list highlighting the ubiquitous number seven, and pay close attention to the additional ideas noted in many of the listed examples, as well as the accompanying footnotes. The number’s overwhelming prevalence in the Torah, in our world, and its barrage upon us in our daily lives, might just surprise and astound you:
1. Everything in the world of tevah, nature, manifests itself on a three dimensional plane-pointing in six directions (dalet ruchos ha’olam, plus up and down), and revolving around a separate seventh point in the middle that serves to link them all. There is something beloved to HaKB”H about the unique “seventh” in myriad categories, seen as an external and loftier entity capable of uniting all that is connected with it: “Kol ha’shevi’in cha’vivin l’olam–li’ma’alan ha’shevi’i“…(Vayikra Rabba, 29:11).
4. 7 shemitta cycles in a yovel.
5. 7 units of time: yovel, shemitta, shana (year), chodesh (month), shavu’a (week), ya’mim (days), and sha’os (hours)-Ma’aseh Torah, #15.
6. 7 millennia in the duration of this world (Sanhedrin 97a)-6,000 years of o’lam ha’zeh followed by 1,000 years of a different world order-corresponding to the 7 days of the week and the 7 years in a shemitta cycle (Maharal, Drush L’Shabbos Teshuva, p.67).
7. 7 “a’mudim,” pillars upholding the world (Chagiga 12b)-based on Mishlei, 9:1: “chatz’vah a’mu’de’ha shiv’a.” According to Rashi (first explanation) and Malbim on the pasuk, it is a reference to the “shiv’as yi’mei Beraishis“; according to the Ibn Ezra and Meiri (and see Ralbag), it refers to the 7 wisdoms (see #41). In his second explanation, Rashi cites that which appears in #8.
8. 7 “sifrei Torah“-a reference to the “Seven Books of the Torah” when taking into account that the parsha of “Va’yehi Bin’so’ah” breaks Sefer Bamidbar into three separate sections (Shabbos 116a, also based on the pasuk in Mishlei, 9:1).
9. 7 “middos“-referring to the seven lower se’firos (spiritual emanations, vehicles of metaphysical energy), essentially a reference to the different ways within which HaKB”H “reveals” Himself and governs His world: chessed, gevurah, tiferes, netzach, hod, yi’sod, and malchus. In his Pri Tzaddik (parshas Devarim, #5), R’ Tzaddok HaKohen writes that the number 7 always corresponds to the 7 middos (and the 7 days of Creation).
10. 7 reki’im, skies (Chagiga 12b- opinion of Reish Lakish; Avos D’R’ Nosson, 37:9- statement of R’ Meir; Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 18)-we mention “Hashem Hu HaElokim” 7 times at the close of Yom Kippur and on Hoshana Rabba corresponding to these 7 skies. See also Avos D’R’Nosson (ibid.) regarding the “7 ma’duros.”
11. 7 special stars/constellations: “Za’yin kochvei le’ches” (Sefer Yetzira, 4:4). In his commentary on parshas Balak (23:4), Rabbeinu Bechaye writes that the “pillars of all of nature lean upon these kochvei leches.”
12. 7 “mi’shar’sim” (Shab’sai, Tzedek, Ma’a’dim, Chamah, No’gah, Kochav, Li’vanah) that “serve” the 7 days of the week. (There are also 28 (7x4) letters in the 7 names of these “mi’shar’sim“-I’tur Bikkurim commentary on the Ba’al HaTurim, Beraishis, 1:1.) In his Chiddushei Aggados on Chagiga 12b, the Maharsha writes that #s 10, 11, and 12 are all referring to the same entities.
13. 7 angels serving HaKB”H “lif’nim min ha’paroches” (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 4). The Radal (#24) also cites Pirkei Hei’chalos that mentions “7 shot’rim sitting on 7 chairs,” in addition to the 7 angels.
14. 70 (7x10-the number 70 is merely the ri’bui of the number 7) years is regarded by Dovid as the average lifespan of man (Tehillim, 90:10). The Megaleh Amukos (ofen 95) writes that there are 613 a’lafim (613,000) hours in a seventy year span, corresponding to the 613 mitzvos!
15. Choni HaM’agal slept for 70 years (the time it takes for a carob tree to produce its first fruits after the initial planting-Bechoros 8a), corresponding to the 70 years of an average lifetime (Ta’anis 23a-and Maharsha).
16. The chilazon (from which ti’cheiles is drawn) emerges from the water onto the land every 70 years (Menachos 44a-see Shu”t Radbaz, vol. 2, #685).
17. Yaakov Avinu arrived in Mitzraim with 70 people-“shiv’im nefesh” (Vayigash, 46:27).
18. The only place singled out where Yaakov and his family stopped on their descent to Egypt was Bi’er Shav’a/Sheva…(ibid., 46:1). Hashem appeared to Yaakov/Yisroel in a dream, and there appears on top of the letter “sin” of the name “Yisroel” 7 ta’gin (crowns). The Ba’al HaTurim (ibid., 46:2) explains that the 7 ta’gin allude to the 7 “tzaros” that Yaakov endured in his lifetime: Eisav, Lavan, Mal’ach (with whom he wrestled), Dinah, Yosef, Shimon, and Binyamin. In the Medrash Tanchuma (Mikeitz, #10-cited by Rashi on 43:14), we find Yaakov’s 7 chief “yi’surin” enumerated: Eisav, Lavan, Dinah, Rachel, Yosef, Shimon, and Binyamin.
20. 70 kolos were heard at Har Sinai (Zohar, vol. 2, 146a), and 70 crowns adorned Klal Yisroel at that time (Zohar, vol. 2, 80a).
21. 70 nations of the world (Zohar, vol. 1, 177a; Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 24); 70 pa’rei ha’Chag offered as sacrifices on the yom tov of Succos on their behalf (Bamidbar Rabba, 21:22; Medrash Tanchuma, Pinchas, #16; Succah 55b-Rashi: “li’cha’per a’lei’hem“).
22. These 70 nations of the world joined together to build the Tower of Bavel (Migdal Bavel) 70 mi’lin high (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, ibid.-see Radal‘s commentary, #36: he also cites a different girsa that the tower was 7 mi’lin high). The Zohar (vol. 1, 177a) adds that there are 70 mi’dinos for the 70 nations.
23. 70 primary languages-each nation with its own k’sav and lashon-from which all others emanate (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, ibid.; Shabbos 88b; Megillah 13b; Sotah 36b).
24. 70 angels surrounding HaKB”H‘s Ki’sei HaKavod (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, ibid.; Zohar, vol. 1, 183b).
25. 70 members of the Sanhedrin HaGadol (Sanhedrin 2a-just as Moshe Rabbeinu was assisted by the 70 zi’keinim–Be’ha’aloscha, 11:24). In his commentary on Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer (ibid., #45), the Radal writes (and quotes the Ramban noting the same) that these 70 members of the Sanhedrin correspond to the 70 mal’achim mentioned in #24. The Rokeach (parshas Shoftim) posits that the 70 members correspond to the 70 people that descended to Mitzraim with Yaakov (#17).
26. A dayan must possess 7 middos, specific noble traits necessary to judge in the best fashion (Sifri, Devarim, 1:15-and see Rashi and Sifsei Chachamim).
27. 70 “kochos” inherent in each of the four primary classifications of creation-do’meim, tzo’mei’ach, chai, mi’daber (nefesh ha’adam)-see the Gra‘s commentary on Yeshaya, 11:1.
29. The Jewish calendar, based on the lunar cycle, has a sequence of intercalation containing 7 leap years during every 19-year period.
30. 7 things were created before the creation of the world: Torah, Teshuva, Gan Eden, Gi’henom, Ki’sei HaKavod, Beis HaMikdash (shel ma’ala–Yi’fei Einayim), and Shi’mo shel Mashiach (Pesachim 54a; Nedarim 39b).
31. 7 “ni’horin” (o’ros), lights, were created before the creation of the world: The ohr of Torah, of Gi’henom, of Gan Eden, of the Ki’sei HaKavod, of the Beis HaMikdash, of Teshuva, and of Mashiach. Aharon HaKohen drew from these mystical lights when he kindled the 7 lights of the Menorah in the Mishkan (Zohar, Tzav, 34b).
32. 7 things are “hidden from mankind”: yom ha’misa, yom ha’nechama, o’mek ha’din, mah bi’libo shel cha’veiro, ba’meh mis’taker (make profit), the return of malchus Beis Dovid, and the end and destruction of malchus cha’yeves (malchus Ro’mi)-see Pesachim 54b, and Mechilta, Beshalach, “Va’yisa,” #5.
34. The word “ba’ra,” [Hashem] created, appears 7 times in the Creation narrative at the beginning of Beraishis; “Va’yar Elokim” appears 7 times (“Elokim” is mentioned 35 (7x5) times); the word “tov” appears 7 times; “sha’mayim” is mentioned 7 times.
37. 7 pesukim in Shlomo ha’melech‘s Koheles (3:2-8) describing 28 (=7x4) different “times for everything under the heaven,” and corresponding to the 7 “kochvei leches” (see #11) that serve, respectively, the 7 days of the week.
39. 7 “bri’yos,” creations, one elevated above the other: Raki’a (sky), Kochavim (stars), I’lanos (trees), Ruchos Ra’os (evil spirits), Bi’heima (animal), Adam (man), Mal’achei ha’sha’reis (heavenly angels)-Avos D’R’ Nosson, 37:1.
40. 7 “o’lamos,” various stages (as opposed to the “worlds” mentioned later in #46) that a person passes through in his lifetime-see Koheles Rabba, 1:2, and Medrash Tanchuma, Pekudei, #3. According to a second opinion in Koheles Rabba (ibid.- but not cited by Rashi), the 7 mentions of vanity refer instead to these 7 stages of life.
41. 7 “chochmos [chi’tzo’niyos],” wisdoms of the world-see R’ Yehonasan Eibshitz’s Ya’aros Di’vash (cheilek 2, drush 7-pp. 170-172) for a brief description of the many chochmos encompassed within the rubric of 7 primary ‘external’ wisdoms.
44. 7 “ya’mim,” seas, “ba’rah HaKB”H“-and He selected only Yam Kineret (ibid.).In Bava Basra 74d, we find: “7 seas [and 4 rivers] encircle Eretz Yisroel” (see Maharsha).
46. 7 “o’lamos,” worlds, “ba’rah HaKB”H“-and He selected only the “O’lam Shevi’i” (ibid.). (The other three appearing on the same list in chapter 18 of Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer-“reki’im,” skies, “yamim,” days, and “sha’nim,” years-have already been noted above in #s 10, 2, and 3 respectively.) The Zohar discusses 70 worlds (Vayechi, 218a; Terumah, 129a).
48. There are 7 water-like secretions that come out of different parts of the human body (Medrash Tad’shei, #6).
49. 7 names for dry land: aretz, adamah, ar’kah, cheled, charvah, yabasha, and tei’vel (Avos d’R’ Nosson, 37:9).
51. 70 nations descended from Noach (Bamidbar Rabba, 14:22).
54. 7 Mitzvos D’Rabbanan-there are 7 primary Rabbinic mitzvos: Birchos Ha’ne’henin (before and after-excluding bir’kas ha’mazon which is mi’d’Oraissa); Ei’ruv (includes the three types of ei’ruvin–techumin, cha’tzei’ros, and tavshilin); Netilas Ya’dayim; Lighting Shabbos and Yom Tov candles; Reciting Hallel; Kindling the Chanukah candles; Megilla (reading Megillas Esther).
55. 7 mitzvos that apply each and every day: Tefillin, Tzitzis, Mezuzah, Kri’as Shema, Birchos Kri’as Shema, Tefilla, and Bris Milah (Medrash Tehillim, 6:1-and see R’ Menachem Mendel MiShklov, disciple of the Gra, in his Bi’urei HaRamam al Seder HaOsiyos, os zayin, p. 36).
56. Each sedra is divided into 7 aliyos, and 7 people are called up to the Torah every Shabbos (Megillah 21a).
57. 7 brachos accompany the weekly haftorah, corresponding to the 7 aliyos of the parshas ha’shavu’a (Maseches Sofrim, 13:14-and see Tosfos in Pesachim 104b (“chutz“)).
58. 7 middos are “mi’sham’shos lif’nei Ki’sei HaKavod,” serve to be mi’lamed zechus in front of HaKB”H: Chochma (nusach of the Gra: Emunah), Tzedek, Mishpat, Chesed, Rachamim, Emes, and Shalom (Avos D’R’ Nosson, 37:8).
59. 7 “ma’alos” separating one tzaddik from another because no two tzaddikim are the same in their various ma’asim (Avos D’R’ Nosson, 37:9).
60. 7 “ki’tos,” groups, of tzaddikim in Gan Eden, “zu li’ma’alah mi’zu…” (Sifri, Devarim, #1; Vayikra Rabba, 30:2).
61. 7 “kochos d’tum’ah” that the snake/the Yetzer HaRa brought into the world, contrasted with the 7 “kochos d’kedusha“-see Sefer HaMikneh on Kiddushin 29b (7-headed mazik discussed in the gemara). See also the Zohar (Pekudei, 263a) contrasting the 7 “hei’chalos” of kedusha with the opposing 7 of tum’ah.
62. 7 types of mi’sos, different descriptions of death depending on how many days one is ill before his demise (Maseches S’machos, 3:9-and see Moed Kattan 28a). In Brachos (8a), we encounter a braissa informing us that there are 903 types of death, a number referring to the various ways of dying. (Interesting to note, perhaps, is that 903 equals 7 x 129 (gematria of “yi’mei ha’din“…)
63. 7 names of the Yetzer Hara (Succah 52a).
64. 7 “ma’duros,” levels, in Gi’henom (Sotah 10b; Zohar, Terumah, 150b).
65. 7 names of Gi’henom (Eiruvin 19a; Yalkut Shimoni, Yeshaya, #437). In his Chiddushei Aggados on the gemara, the Maharsha writes that the 7 names of Gi’henom correspond to its seven levels, and each level corresponds to a different category of sin as alluded to in the 7 names of the yetzer hara-thus linking #s 63-65. The correlation is already touched upon in the Zohar, Pekudei, 263a.
66. 7 angels guarding the four pi’sachim, entranceways, to paths of “ra” and “ma’ves” (Pirkei d’R’ Eliezer, chapter 15-and see the Radal (#s 13, 14), for additional associations of 7 in this regard).
67. 7 pi’sachim, entranceways, into Gi’henom (Zohar, Terumah, 150b).
68. 7 types of ri’sha’im, wicked people, descend into Gi’henom (Zohar, Terumah, 150b-see Reishis Chochma, sha’ar ha’yir’ah, 13:5).
69. 7 categories of people do not have a portion in Olam HaBa (Avos D’R’ Nosson, 36:5). 7 categories of people descend into Gi’henom (Otzar HaAggadah, vol. 1, 184, quoting Medrash Gan Eden).
70. 7 kingdoms will be cast into Gi’henom sometime in the future (Beis HaMedrash, 5:101).
71. 7 individuals are singled out for having lost their Olam HaBa-three kings and four regular people: Yeravam, Ach’av, and Menashe; Bilaam, Do’eg, Achitofel, and Gei’chazi (Sanhedrin 90a; Avos D’R’ Nosson, 36:6).
72. 7 ways of worshipping avodah zara warrant mi’sas beis din (and kareis)-Sanhedrin 60b.
73. 7 people receive the punishment of chenek (Ma’aseh Torah, #36).
74. 7 people are considered “mi’nudin l’Shamayim,” in a type of cheirem vis-à-vis HaKB”H (Pesachim 113b).
75. 7 aveiros from not learning to being a ko’fer bi’ikar, one leading directly to the next-Rashi, parshas Bechukosai, 26:15.
76. 7 different aveiros were perpetrated when Zecharia ha’navi was killed (Eichah Rabbasi, 2:5; Yerushalmi Ta’anis, 4:5).
77. 7 species of produce of Eretz Yisroel (the “mi’nim” especially characteristic of E”Y)-Brachos 37a.
78. 7 nations, the “za’yin a’mimim,” inhabiting Eretz Yisroel.
79. 7 years of conquering Eretz Yisroel, followed by 7 years of dividing the land among the shi’vatim (Zevachim 118b; Kesuvos 25a).
81. It took 7 years and 7 months for Shlomo ha’melech to build the Beis HaMikdash (Melachim I, 6:37-38), and it was dedicated in the seventh month (ibid., 8:2) with festivities lasting for “7 days and 7 days” (ibid., 8:65).
82. 7 gates through which to enter the Azara in the Beis HaMikdash (Middos, 1:4; Yuma 19a).
83. 7 days of preparation to inaugurate the Mishkan in the midbar-the “za’yin yi’mei mi’lu’im” wherein Moshe Rabbeinu served as the kohen gadol.
84. 70 amos was the length of the bri’ach ha’tichon that encircled and held together the walls of the Mishkan.
85. 70 amudim used for the courtyard of the Mishkan