(Tip of the kippah to my friend Jeff for the inspiration for this idea)

The first day of the new year, and the new decade: 01-01-10. In addition to just plain looking funny, it allows me to combine three aspects of my life together:

  • my love of all things geek-ily computer related
  • my love of all things Jewish
  • my love of obscure trivia

As a computer geek I recognized instantly that the first day of the year was wonderfully binary in it’s structure. For those who don’t feel like doing the calculation, 010110 represents the number 22.

As a Jew (and a Jew who is trying to learn as much as he can about as much as he can), I realized that 22 might have significance with regard to the words that number represents in Gematria.

For those who haven’t encountered this funky branch of Jewish learning yet, you need only recall 2nd grade math class. You remember that homework assignment where they gave every letter of the alphabet a number? Then you had to give the sum for things like the word “pencil”, “flower”, your name, the Gettysburg Address, etc. Remember it now? Yeah, Jews invented that homework idea, and called it “gematria”.

Every letter in the Hebrew aleph-bet (alphabet) also has a numerical value. (aleph =1, bet = 2, etc, up to yud = 10, then things get funky.) Gematria is the act of doing that 2nd grade homework assignment on every word in the Torah, plus your name, plus your street address, plus any other words you think of. Then you look for connections. “Oh look Shlomo! Your name is the same as word cupcake multiplied times 100. Maybe it’s trying to tell you something.”

And of course you can use sites like this to start with a number, and find words that have that numeric value.

Getting back to the first day of this new decade, what words DO have a value of 010110, or 22 (for those non-binary types reading this)?

Initially, the list doesn’t look promising. It includes things like woe, babble, fall, destroy, and sacrifice.

But (in that wonderful way gematria has), 22 also gives us words like gladness, good, blessing, bounty, to gather together, and to be united.

Most indicative of all, however, is the fact that there are 22 letters in the Hebrew aleph-bet. Meaning (in my opinion) that we have the opportunity to make of this decade whatever we choose.