Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Friday the 13th is a Lucky Day for Jews

Why is Friday the 13th a lucky day for Jews? See my prior posting: Friday the 13th: Jason and Freddie Make Shabbos.

And also, note the following, from a now-defunct website for an Israeli flower distributor:

In Israel, Friday the 13th is considered to be an unusually lucky day.

In Judaism, Friday is a very special day because the Sabbath begins on Friday evening and because the Bible mentions that God noted that his creations on this day were very good.

Moreover, the number 13 has always had a special lucky significance to Judaism. A few examples:

1. The Bar Mitzva is held at age 13.
2. There are 13 months in the Hebrew lunar calendar.
3. The Bible lists 13 attributes of God.
4. There are 613 commandments.
5. When Israel regained its independence in 1948, the first provisional government was called the Minhelet Ha'Am and it had 13 members (for good luck). As the first Jewish government of an independent Israel, the country's founders felt that would need all the luck they could use.
6. Maimonides (the Rambam), formulated his famous 13 principles of Judaism (not 7 principles or 11 principles, but EXACTLY 13 principles). -- A religious relative of mine commented that the Rambam must be turning over in his grave 13 times as he reads this!
7. Succot Eve, the Jewish holiday of Thanksgiving, fell on Friday the 13th -- October 13th, 2000. Succot, the holiday of Tabernacles, is a special holiday. Friday Eve is special because it is the Sabbath. And when everything falls on Friday the 13th, then you have a truly lucky holiday!

We are sure that you can think of other "lucky 13" numbers.

For example:
- There were 13 colonies in British North America.
- There are 13 stars and stripes in the original American flag.
- Alfred Hitchcock was born on Friday, August 13th (a quite fitting date).

Christian fear of the number thirteen goes back to the Last Supper. Jesus and his apostles numbered thirteen at that meal, and within a day Jesus was crucified. The moral of the story is: If your name is Jesus, and you are invited for dinner, never eat at the table with 12 other people.

Truth is though, that fear of the number 13 goes back at least to pagan Norse mythology. According to Norse tradition twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the evil god, wasn't invited to this party but crashed it anyway, bringing the number of guests to thirteen. During the evening, Loki, always looking to cause destruction, shot the god Balder with an arrow, killing a favorite of the gods. As a result of this story, the number thirteen became a source of anxiety for people. By the time Jesus began preaching, the superstition had already been established, but the Last Supper certainly reinforced it.

Some Jews consider the U.S. $1 bill lucky because there are so many 13's on it: 13 stars, 13 stripes, 13 steps, 13 arrows and even an olive branch with 13 leaves on it.

What has all of the above got to do with flowers? Quite simply, Friday evening is the beginning of the Sabbath in Israel and because this is such a special day, it is the custom in many households to buy flowers on Friday. Friday the 13th is a special day, so that there is an even greater incentive to buy flowers on this day.

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