(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) 1996-2000 Project Genesis

Re: Four Differences

Russell Hendel (rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu)
Mon, 24 Nov 1997 20:33:35 -0500

Irene (TF 3-n82 raised the issue of why 4 occurs so much (4 spieces, 4
rivers...) in Judaism and she says she "welcomes all explanations...even

Well how about a mathematical explanation. First some facts: Other
numbers occur frequently also: e.g. 3... 3 festivals, 3 patriarchs, the
"three fold cord" (mentioned in KOheleth).

As Irene notes 4 occurs alot also. Why? Because 4 = 2 *2:

Example 1: Personality types (Symbolism of Ethrog---sweet smell, backbone)
Ethrog--has both (Sweet and hard working)
Lulav- has only one (A hard worker)
Hadas -has only one (Sweet)
Aravah--(has neither)

Example 2: 4 types of watchers---paid/not paid and I/he asked
Watch my belongings for nothing---free + I askED
Watch my belongings for a fee----paid ###### borrow this article of yours--free and he asked

In other words: whenever we have 2 attributes call them X and Y there are
always 4 possiblities (A & B, Only A , Only B or neither). That explains
why there are 4.

So FRUIT can be SWEET(Ethrog/Hadas) or NOT SWEET(Lulav/Aravah) FRUIT can
HARD (Ethrog/Lulav) or SOFT (Hadas/Aravah).

So the two attributes SWEET and HARD generate 2*2=4 possibilites (Both,
only one, only one, and neither). Since this resembles the 4 types of
people (works hard vs not//easy to get along with vs not) we have the

Similarly when I have an article of my friends which I have to return:

Either there is PAYMENT(He pays me to watch//I pay him to rent) or NO
PAYMENT(he doesn't pay me to watch//I borrow free)

Either I ask to get the article (Rent/Borrowing) or he asks for me to watch
it (for money or not)

In general many areas of Torah where 4 occurs have 2 attributes and all 4

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d.;ASA; rhendel @ mcs drexel edu