Today is not a good day for paraskavedekatriaphobics – that is those who are afraid of Friday the 13th. Today is Friday the 13th and many believe that this is a very unlucky day. Most paraskavedekatriaphobics don’t really know why they are afraid of this day. They are simply the victims of well-known superstitions. These superstitions are most likely based partially upon teachings that assert that the number 13 is an incomplete number. There are 12 tribes of Israel, 12 hours on a clock, 12 months in a year, 12 Olympic gods…13 is incomplete. In addition, Christian sources teach that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Furthermore, at the last supper, it is taught that 13 people were seated at the table. As a result, some believe that it is dangerous to have 13 people at a table. In the 14th century, Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales taught “on a Friday fell all this misfortune”. By the 1800’s, it was widely believed that it was unlucky to begin a new adventure, give birth, get married, etc on a Friday.
To all you paraskavedekatriaphobics out there, I have good news for you: for Jews, Friday and the number 13 are far from “unlucky”! Friday is the day we prepare for Shabbat – our day of rest and joy. Friday is a busy day, one filled with shopping, cooking and putting together other things that we will need to enjoy Shabbat. Friday is the 6th day of the week. The number 7 is considered a complete number in Judaism as it is the last day of the week – our Shabbat. Judaism, interestingly enough, does not teach that 6 is an incomplete number. Rather, it teaches us that 6 is the “lead-in” day – the day we get ready for greatness! Friday, the 6th day, is our wonderful “lead-in” day.
13 in Judaism is far from an unlucky number. Consider when our children become bar mitzvah – at age 13 – an age of responsibility and celebration! God is described as having 13 merciful, caring, loving attributes. And the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides taught that in order to be a true Jew, one must embrace 13 foundations of Judaism. 13 is a wonderful, powerful, holy and complete number in Judaism.
And, thus, I wish you a happy Friday the 13th and a Shabbat Shalom!