The Devil's Arithmetic

Explain Rivka's number.


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. Hannah responds with Chaya even though it sounds foreign in her mouth. Then, she tells Rivka that the numbers means the following to her: J for Jew, 1 for me alone, 9 which is pronounced like the German word for NO in English, and now stands for the idea that NO, she will not die here, 7 for every day of the week she stays alive, 2 for Gitl and Shmuel who are there, too, 4 for a family she can almost, but not quite remember, and 1 because she is alone in this place and in this particular time. Rivka tells Shifre that Hannah’s metaphor for the tattoo shows she will stay alive, so now it is Shifre’s turn to tell her the numbers in the same way and then, they will find Esther who is not yet completely a musselman.



The J stood for Jew, the 1 for being alone, the 8 stood for the number in her family, the 2 was for the number of the family who survived, the ) was for her and Wolfe (Wolfe believes himself to be a 0, and the two for what they will be when it's over.... a 2 again.


The above is Rivkah's number and what it means to her.......