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Gematria 113: On Sacrifice

Today, January 23, 2021, we read the Bible portion named “Bo” (“Go”). The portion covers the immediate period of time before the Jewish people departed from slavery in Egypt—negotiation with Pharoah as well as preparation.

Rabbi Akiva Belk notes the Gematria 113 in this portion as we encounter a word that looks like this in Hebrew:


Earlier (Exodus 4:4), as Belk explains, the word is pronounced “Va-YA-Cha-Zek” (Hebrew root: ChZK, or “strength”) and refers to Moses “grasping on” to the snake, which turned into a rod. 

Clearly, here, Moses here is the servant of God and his “grasping” is a show of Godly might.

In another sense, the word is pronounced “Va-YIH-Cha-Zak” and refers to Pharoah “hardening his heart.” 

(Some say that God induced the obstinacy.) 

Either way, the outcome is an act of ego, of determinedly doing what “I” want to do. And in the end the mighty Egyptian army drowned in the Red Sea—because Pharoah couldn’t lose.

Even without the Gematria aspect, there is an obvious lesson here: A show of might is good when you’re doing it for the right reasons, but bad and dangerous when you’re doing it to fulfill your ego. 

But what about 113?

Writing in the Times of Israel, Dafei Tang explains that the Gematria of the “Teshuvah,” Hebrew for “repentance,” is 713. 

He then shows the Gematrias of the different types of sin:

“Unintentional” – “Chet” – 18

“Uncontrolled” – “Avon” – 132

“Intentional” – “Pesha” – 450

Total up the different kinds of sin (18+132+450) and you get 600.

713 minus 600 equals 113.

Repentance minus sin equals real strength, strength in the name of God.

He points out that 113 is also the Gematria of “sacrifices of God” (זִבְחֵי אֱלֹהִים) – see Psalm 51:19.

In English the Psalm is an explanation of what it truly means to show strength in life, by humbling yourself: 

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Unfortunately, 113 in the wrong mindset is a different kind of sacrifice.

It is sacrifice to any of a multitude of false gods.

This is what the devil demands in exchange for access to ill-gotten gains in this world.

By Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.

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