Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The term reminds me of the Hebrew word for fat, shamen. But can there possibly be a link between this seemingly random number and that less than fashionable term? As it turns out, there may be. The reason is as follows: The previous number, seven, is known as a perfect number. Philo of Alexandria already tells us in his treatise On Creation, that it “pervades the most excellent of the sciences” and is always associated with perfection when it comes to natural processes.

What then do we know about the following number? As my father, Rabbi Uziel Milevsky, of blessed memory, taught me, it is the number beyond the natural. It is not a coincidence, he used to say, that the circumcision happens on that day, or that Chanukah is celebrated for eight days. Thus, we might call the number eight a surplus figure, since it goes beyond the perfect seven. According to E. W. Bullinger, who studied numerology in Tanach, that is why that number itself represents something extra, or the fat, in the nicest possible sense. Besides, a few extra pounds never hurt anyone.


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Yonatan Milevsky PhD, is an author and lecturer. His book on Jewish natural law theory was recently published by Brill. He teaches at TanenbaumCHAT in Canada.