Miss ——

Blessing and Greeting:

I was pleased to receive your letter, in which you write that you have noticed that in the Torah, and in Yiddishkeit [Judaism] in general, the number 7 occupies a special place, and you ask why.

You surely know that there are other numbers which are similarly significant and prominent, such as 10, 3 and others.

As a matter of fact, there is hardly any justification in questioning G‑d’s ways, as to why He has chosen certain numbers for special significance. For, as you will readily understand, G‑d’s wisdom is beyond human understanding.

The question may be asked, however, after G‑d has chosen a certain number of days in which to create the world, namely the number 7, what can we learn from this?

Approaching the question from this point of view, it is possible to say that inasmuch as certain categories of things and creatures were created on separate days, instead of every living being created in one day, each category stands out separately in importance and in the scale of Creation, as also explained in the various commentaries on the Chumash [Pentateuch]. Man, who was created last, on the 6th day of Creation, is the most important creature. But the whole of Creation was crowned with the 7th day, the holy day of Shabbat, which is a source of life and blessing for all the creatures, inasmuch as the Shabbat is the “soul,” so to speak, of the whole world.

And, because G‑d, in His infinite wisdom, chose to create the world on the basis of this figure of 7 days, there are many matters of Torah and mitzvot which reflect this number 7, such as the 7 weeks of the Counting of the Omer, the 7 years of the Shemittah [Sabbatical year] cycle, the 7 shemittot of Yovel [the Jubilee], etc.

In a similar manner we must approach your question of why a girl becomes bat mitzvah at 12, while a boy becomes bar mitzvah at 13, and why not sooner or later? As you can well understand, duties and obligations must come together with sufficient maturity and understanding of their importance, and why they should be cherished and observed with love and devotion. According to G‑d’s scheme of Creation, such maturity is attained by a Jewish girl at the age of 12, and by Jewish boys at the age of 13.

Of course, you might ask, G‑d surely could have speeded up or slowed down the age of maturity, so that the obligation to fulfill the mitzvot would come sooner or later than the said 12 and 13 years. But in that case, the same question could still be asked whatever the bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah age would have been. Clearly, G‑d, who is the Creator, created the best possible order in nature and in human development.

Judging by your thoughtfulness and interest in Jewish matters, I am confident that you are learning with proper devotion and dedication to the Torah, Torat Chaim [Torah of Life]. And the study of the Torah with the proper devotion and dedication means the kind of study that leads to the fulfillment of the mitzvot in everyday life. I hope that you are a good influence on your friends in this direction.

With blessing,