Tisha B’Av Prayer and a Prophecy from the Book of Ken

Today is Tisha B’Av, a day when Jews fast and remember the destruction of the two original Temples, which—either karmically or literarily—both reportedly happened on the same date only 657 years apart (587 BCE and 70 CE).

Yesterday I seriously considered going to Temple today, but today I wasn’t inspired. I considered fasting by myself, but I met a friend for coffee to discuss business.

While I waited for him to show up, I prayed. I prayed for the soul of Israel and for the soul of Palestine. I prayed that hardened hearts would soften, that fear would be replaced by insight, that outside voices of hatred would be silenced so that inside voices could be heard, and that doctrine would be replaced by compassion.

I also found time to do some Jewish numerology. As I wrote in a previous blog entry , Jews are the original numerologists. “Every letter of the Hebrew alphabet corresponds to a different number and adding the letters in a person’s name or birthday can determine his or her future. Words have numerical value, too, and you don’t mess with them.”

One number that happens to be filled with positive vibes is 18. Why? Because it is the numerological equivalent of “chai,” the Hebrew word for life. As I wrote in that same blog:

If you’ve ever been part of the ceremonial toast “l’chaim,” you’ve exclaimed “to life,” or, to express its multiple intentions, “to a life filled with mazel (good fortune), strong family ties, warm friendships, love between the two of you (if we’re talking marriage), many children, peace, harmony, a vacation once or twice a year, and a healthy retirement wouldn’t hurt.”

“Chai” (ח י) is spelled by using the Hebrew letters ח (“chet”; or “het” if you can’t roll your tongue), the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and י (“yud”), the tenth letter. Using simple math, 8 + 10 = 18, and you have 18 being the number that represents life, and 36 being double chai. (Did you ever get an $18 check from a Jewish friend for a gift and wonder why he didn’t just round it off to $20? That’s why. Believe me, the good luck is worth more than the $2.)

Now look at the number of years separating the destruction of the two Temples: 657, or, as we Jewish numerologists say, 6 + 5 + 7 = 18.

Am I really the first Jew to notice that? Probably not. But in the absence of a clear interpretation from a competing prophet, I will humbly stake a claim to it and say that the difference was no accident and that it was all for the good. Why, I can’t yet say. I’ll only make the prediction. You’ll read about it centuries from now in the Book of Ken.