If four sides of a dreidel and eight candles are proving too simple for you, here is a way to expand the Hanukkah holiday—mathematically and mystically.
The eight-candle menorah is binary, that is, a candle is either lit (1) or unlit (0).
With eight binary places, the menorah is a type of hexadecimal, a code central to digital processing. Each of the eight places in a hexadecimal is occupied by a digit or a letter.
If you assign each of the eight candles, left to right, either a 0 or a 1, you can convert each from a hexadecimal to a numeric value:
First night of Hanukkah = 00000001 = 1
Second night = 00000011 = 17
Third night = 00000111 = 273
Fourth night = 00001111 = 4,369
Fifth night = 00011111 = 69,905
Sixth night = 00111111 = 1,118,481
Seventh night = 01111111 = 17,895,697
Eighth night = 11111111 = 286,331,153
Is this of any use? Some suggestions:
1. A secret code to identify each day of Hanukkah with a number. When greeting someone on the second day of Hanukkah, you might say “Happy 17”. Please be sure to explain the system behind your greeting, lest it is thought you are experiencing a psychological break or are high (assuming you are not).
2. Gematria is a system that assigns numbers to each Hebrew letter in a word, and then calculates a value for each word, which value is then associated with other words of the same value. You can look online to find the gematria associations for each of the above values. In addition to gematria, there are countless systems that assign values to letters and meaning to numbers.
For the larger numbers, you may not find an associated meaning. But you can factor the larger numbers to find smaller associated meanings. So, for example, the eighth night value of 286,331,153 factors to 17 × 257 × 65537. The smaller numbers such as 17 and 257 are widely discussed.
Chag urim sameach! (Happy Festival of Lights). And if I don’t see you, Happy 273!