What’s the fuss? 13 is actually a “good” number in Judaism

The number 13 pops up a lot in Judaism in some very important ways
The 13 Attributes of Mercy.

Friday the 13th… an unlucky date with an unlucky number… for some. Did you know that the number 13 is actually not so unlucky in Jewish tradition?

Friday the 13th’s unluckiness has its origins in Western Christian thought:

The superstition seems to relate to various things, like the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday[4] and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century

Friday the 13th,” Wikipedia

However, for Jews, 13 has been a symbol of strength and… (sometimes) even good luck. For example, when Israel was established in 1948 the first provisional government had 13 members– because its founders said they needed all the luck they could get.

So where exactly does 13 get its significance in Judaism? Well, you just have to look at all the times it pops up:

The significance of “13”

  • 13 attributes of Hashem/Mercy- שלושה עשר מידיא (appears in Exodus after we were forgiven for the whole golden calf incident)
  • 13 Jewish principles of faith according to Maimonides
  • 13 is the age a Jewish male becomes obligated to follow Jewish law, (i.e. the age at which a Bar Mitzvah is performed)
  • Israel (Jacob) had 13 children
  • According to gematria (Jewish numerology) the words אהבה (Ahavah/Love) and אחד (Echad/Unity) add up to 13
  • Number of days of Yom Tovs (festival days) in a year in the diaspora
  • 13 months in a leap year on the Hebrew calendar
  • Adar II (or the 13th month in a leap year) is considered extra lucky because the month of Adar according to tradition is a “lucky month”
  • 13th of Adar (or Adar II in leap years) is the Fast of Esther
  • Unit Shayetet 13 (שייטת 13‎) is considered to be the Navy Seals of the IDF

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