24,000 Gone

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 7/7/2019

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  24,000 Gone

Tosafos[1] tells us that Bilaam could have cursed us in the moment (רגע) Hashem gets angry with the word כַּלֵם; destroy them.[2] Although the curses of Bilaam were unsuccessful, they were successful in that there was a plague in which 24,000 died. This is alluded to in כַּלֵם as if we multiply the letters with each other, we get to this number. That is, 20 (כ) multiplied by 30 (ל) is 600. Multiplying that by 40 (מ), we get 24,000![3]

R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.


[1] Avoda Zara 4b, s.v. רגע

[2] After the rebellion of Korach, Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon הבדלו...ואכלה אתם כרגע; separate yourselves from this assembly, and I will destroy them in a moment (Bamidbar 16:21).

[3] Bilaam said תמת נפשי מות ישרים...כמהו (Bamidbar 23:10). The Jewish people are called ישרים, as is shown in ישראל- a contraction of ישר א-ל. Another name we are called by is ישרון (Devarim 32:15)- also from the term ישר. תמת נפשי מות ישרים...כמהו- the death of the ישרים (Jews) was כמהו. That is to say, multiply the letters of כמהו with each other- 20 (כ) by 40 (מ) by 5 (ה) and then by 6 (ו). Our total is 24,000!


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