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Why are many things in Judaism done three times?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus


Library » Torah » Codes and Numbers | Subscribe | What is RSS?


According to Jewish law, once something is done three times it is considered a permanent thing. This is called a “chazakah.”

Let’s say you decide to take on a new good resolution. If you do it once—beginner’s luck. Twice—still beginner’s luck. If you do it three times then we can trust you.

So the number three represents permanence. That’s why we do things in threes, since it adds strength to our acts. (For example, many prayers are repeated three times; the Lulav is waved three times in each direction; etc.)

From a Kabbalistic perspective, we know that three is the number of peace and integration. The number two represents difference, division—right and left, giving vs. restraint.

Three, represents the integration of one and two. (The integration of giving vs. restraint, for example, results in one withholding a knife from a child who really wants to play with one.)

The Talmud1 points out that the Torah was given in the third month of the Jewish year, to a people that has three groups (Kohen, Levite, Israelite), and through Moses, who was the third child in his family (after Miriam and Aharon). The (Written) Torah itself is made up of three portions: the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings.

Torah is the manual for peace2. It teaches how to integrate body and soul, the physical world with its spiritual source. It is "the third" entity, the one that unites the other two.


  • 1. Talmud tractate Shabbat 88a
  • 2. See Maimonidies laws of Chanukah 4:14 and Proverbs 3:17
TAGS: 3, three


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Modern Sayings

Posted by: James Osterhage, Villa Hills, KY on Sep 23, 2005

Perhaps this is the root of the phrase: "The third time is a charm."


Miscellaneous » Hebrew / Languages » Codes and Numbers

Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
A descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. The Levites were the teachers and spiritual leaders in the Land of Israel. They had various responsibilities in the Holy Temple, including choir and orchestral duties.
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
(adj.) Pertaining to Kabbalah—Jewish mysticism.
A palm branch. One of the Four Species we are required to take on the holiday of Sukkot. We shake it together with a citron, myrtle, and willow.
Older sister of Moses and Aaron, and a prophetess in her own right.