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What is the Meaning of the Number 600.000?

What is the meaning of the number 600.000?

The first thing that comes to mind with this number is to reduce it to 6 (6+0+0..etc=6). Which evokes the association with the creation of the world, in which the number six plays an important role. The Tikkunei Zohar divides the word Bereshit (the first word of the Torah which is normally translated with “in the beginning”) with Bara Shis which we can translate with created [with] six. [1]

  • six days of creation – the seventh Shabbat is set apart
  • six directions of the world – left, right, front, back, up, and down
  • six sefirot – emotional powers – G-d used for the creation of the world ( Chesed-Kindness, Gevurah-Severity, Tiferet-Beauty, Netzach-Perseverance, Hod-Splender, and Yesod-Foundation)
  • On the sixth day, a man was created – the capstone of creation

The 7the sefirot – Malchut – is “separate” from the other six, just as Shabbat is “separate” from the other six days. [2]

But how do we get from 6 to 600,000?

Midrash Rabba states:

“G-d looked into the Torah and created the world. And the Torah says, ‘In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth.’ And there is no beginning except for the Torah. As it says, ‘The L-rd acquired me at the beginning of His way.'” (Proverbs 8:22)”

Not that G-d needs anything He did not previously create through His Wisdom, but the linkage is interesting. G-d created the world with His speech, with the Torah. Now there is an interesting fact about the Torah that is linked to the number 600,000. Namely, there are 600,000 letters in the Torah.

Most people won’t start recounting that, but some will, and…disappointingly….then only 304,800 letters are counted. Where is the other half?

The Torah consists of black ink on white parchment. These are the letters we can count, but the Torah is also made up of white letters, letters we cannot see. They are in the white places in the Torah scroll.

The black letters are the world as we know it, that which G-d revealed to us. Connected to the name E-lokim. The white letters are G-d’s name hidden in the world. Connected to the name Hashem. That which we cannot see directly. Only through the black letters can we “see” the “white holes” of the invisible letters. [3][4] But G-d is One, and His name is One. No letter of His name may be missing from the Torah. So not a single black letter, not a single white letter may be missing. We can see the importance of the white letters in the Law that if there is not enough white space around a black letter (i.e. a white letter is missing) then the Torah scroll is invalid. [4]

Zachariah 14:9 “Hashem will be the King over all the land; on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One.”

People will see and understand on that day that Elokim and Hashem, Havayah, are one. That the revealed and the unrevealed, that which we understand and that which we do not, all come from G-d.

G-d reveals Himself in His creation and people could discover Him, just as Abraham discovered Him in nature. But the world around once shows, not everyone can do that independently. It takes help to know G-d. It takes help to understand His Torah properly.

Each letter in the Torah is “carried” by a Jewish soul tasked with revealing that particular letter to the world. We see this thought reflected in the word “Israel” which can be read as an acronym for “Yesh Shishim Ribo Otiot LaTorah”, meaning, “There are six hundred thousand letters in the Torah”. [5]

So, we see that Israel left Egypt at the time when there were six hundred thousand souls. So that in receiving the Torah, every letter could be “supported” by a Jewish soul. [6] The sages tell us that every Jewish soul that ever lived is an offshoot of one of these 600.000 “general” souls. Every Jew possesses something of the Torah [7] Being connected to a letter in the Torah teaches us that each individual is obligated to actualize his unique talents, and to use them towards the greater good, the purpose is to teach the world that G-d is One. [8]

The Talmud teaches that the arrival of the Messiah will transpire when all these souls are “complete.”

The son of David will not come until all the souls in the body are complete. (Yevamot 62a)[9]

These souls will make the world come to acknowledge to serve G-d and bow down before Him. Then the world will enter the Shabbat.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] How Is the Torah Interpreted?
[2] How Many Sefirot are Involved in Creation?
[3] And His Name Will Be One
[4] Where Are the 600,000 Letters of the Torah?
[5] 600,000 Souls, 600,000 Letters
[6] Exodus 12:37
[7] The Hebron Purchase
[8] Individuality and the Collective
[9] The Nation of Israel

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