Upon Reaching 100
I typeset sefarim, and recently sent my 100th sefer to print.
I asked myself – what is so special about reaching 100? Is there something different about that number? I know that it’s a round number (it actually has two round numbers) – but in the vast continuum of numbers and gradual procession of digits – what significance does the number 100 have?
I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a very theological question.
One who lives in a random, meaningless universe can present no argument or claim to fame for any one number. If you divorce the physical world from the metaphysical, numbers become merely a matter of utility, the sum equation of human need and practicality.
Computers use binaries, so exponents of two run the show. A seven-day week, like the appendix, is some vestigial remnant of an ancient function which has long outlived its purpose. There is no inherent value of one number over any other.
Judaism Is All About Numbers
I recently typeset a Haggadah. At the end of the Pesach Seder, we sing “Who knows One,” a song which superficially seems to be a morphophonemic device written to impress children with some of the rudimentary basics of Judaism. It’s much more than that. It teaches us how numbers are the building blocks of the universe.
And it all starts with one. There is only ONE. Hashem is represented by one because there is no “other.” It is not just a representation – it is our creed and manifesto. The Ramchal writes (Da’as Tevunos) that the only understanding we have of Hashem’s essence is “Hashem Echad,” and then spends the next two hundred pages explaining this in profound detail.
Getting Back to 100
There is strength in numbers. The same way a group of people can lift a heavy object because their strength is multiplied – so too, there is significance and meta-physical power in numbers.
Seven represents the facets of our physical world (as demonstrated by the spectrum of the rainbow and days of the week). It is the numerical microcosm of corporeal existence.
Ten is the number which manifests Divine presence and encompasses spiritual spheres of activity. It is a round number because it is self-containing and can stand on its own. This is why we count using the decimal numbering system – and why reaching ten, and ten tenfold, is considered an accomplishment.