Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The digit zero.”

“Intention is like zeros added to a basic number.

The Seer of Lublin is said to have interpreted the verse “The Lord shall count in the register of the nations” (Psalms 87:6) in this spirit.

Whereas the digit zero appears in the number systems of other nations, no Hebrew letter corresponds to the zero.

If a person prays, learns Torah, or performs a mitzvah without intent, he is recorded “in the register of nations” — with a zero.

But when he prays, learns Torah, or performs a mitzvah with intent, a number is placed before all of the zeros he has amassed.

The zero in itself has no numerical value — however, when another digit is placed before a few zeros, a number of great value can result.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Undertanding the Tanya p. 248 by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz