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What is the Reason? The Number 15

Dear Rabbi Weinberg;I know that the number 15 is important because there are 15 Chapters in Psalms of Ascension corresponding to the 15 steps into the Temple. Where did David get the number 15? Thank You. E.

Dear E.,

The first hint of the importance of the number 15 is found in the story of the construction of the Tabernacle in the

desert. The Ba’alei Tosafot, Exodus38: 21 explain that when Israel finished the Tabernacle, they calculated all the gold and silver donated, how much was used and found some was missing. They suspected that Moses had embezzled some of the money for himself. Moses prayed that the Tabernacle itself prove his innocence. The people recalculated and found that they had not counted 15 of the rings on the posts of the Tabernacle courtyard. 15 became the number that reminds us of Moses’ integrity and the fact that a leader must maintain his integrity above all suspicion. This is why there are 15 praises in the Baruch Sh’amar, Yishtabach and Emet V’yatziv prayers. This is also why there are 15 steps in the Passover Seder; to honor Moses, the hero of the Exodus.


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