Lionel Messi, considered the world’s most talented contemporary footballer, and currently playing for Argentina in the World Cup in South Africa, celebrates his 23rd birthday on Thursday, June 24.
Messi, the 2009 FIFA Footballer of the Year, has already enjoyed a career so impressive, it is hard to believe that he is so young.
Well before the World Cup, his name adorned the newspapers worldwide,
generating punning headlines such as “Messi Messiah” and “Messi
mesmerizes.” His life and skills have been analyzed, compared,
contrasted, you name it.
Given the current popularity of Kabbala,
it is a wonder that we haven’t seen articles looking at Messi from this
According to Kabbala, our
Hebrew date of birth impacts significantly on our lives and our destiny.
Messi was born at 8:20 p.m. on June 24, 1987, which means that his
Hebrew date of birth is Sivan 28, 5747.
The number 28, kaf-het,
spells the Hebrew word koah, power, which anybody who has watched Messi
will have witnessed in his play. But will Messi and his teammates have
the power to reach the World Cup final, on Sunday July 11? The week
leading up to the final culminates on Shabbat, July 10, when the Jewish
people read a double portion from the Torah, Matot-Massei. The name
Massei – journeys – bears a striking resemblance to the name Messi, and
includes each of the three Hebrew letters (mem, samech and yud) which
make up Messi’s name.
Massei also includes a fourth letter, ayin –
Hebrew for eye – which would suggest we look more carefully at this
letter and what it implies. In kabbalistic terms, the letter ayin refers
to the eye of God, which manifests itself in the world as divine
providence and harmony in all the workings of nature. Divine providence
is the idea, held by Judaism, Christianity and Islam alike, that nothing
happens by chance, but rather, by the hand of God.
this theme, combining the names Massei and Matot certainly provides a
fitting reading in the buildup to the World Cup final – the culmination
of the “journeys” of many “tribes” to their final destination.
it Messi and his tribe who will end the journey victorious? Diego
Maradona, the Argentina coach and arguably the best footballer of all
time, named Messi as his successor by giving him the national team’s
coveted No. 10 jersey when he took over the team in 2007.
called me to one side in training and said he’d decided that I should be
the one to wear it,” Messi later recalled. “For me it’s wonderful,
given all the history that’s been associated with it.”
parallels between the two men don’t end there.
many memorable goals in his career, including two that stand out,
against England, in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. (Maradona’s Argentina
had visited Israel and prayed at the Western Wall ahead of that
tournament, which it won, and did so again ahead of the 1990 tournament,
in which it was beaten in the finals.) The second of the two 1986
goals, voted by FIFA in 2002 as the goal of the century, saw Maradona
run from inside his own half and slalom his way through a series of
tackles before beating the England goalkeeper.
Earlier in the
game, he had scored the notorious “hand of God” goal – seemingly with
his head, but in fact with a thrust of his hand.
achievements, remarkably, include two goals almost identical to that
pair, scored in the 2006-2007 season.
If we look closely at
Messi’s name spelt in Hebrew, it can also be read as an abbreviated form
of mispar yud – number 10. Yud is the 10th letter of the Hebrew
alphabet and has the numerical value of 10 both in gematria (kabbalistic
numerology) and in everyday life. Tenth grade, for example, in Hebrew,
is Kita Yud. The letter yud in Kabbala refers to yad, meaning “hand” or
Does the number 10, on the jersey worn by both
Maradona and Messi, two of the greatest footballers the world has known,
constitute an act of divine providence, the hand of God? In Judaism,
the number 10 is primarily associated with the Ten Commandments given by
God at Mount Sinai. The Torah actually states: “The tenth shall be holy
The yud, being the smallest of the 22 letters,
represents “the little that holds much.”
Given the small physical
size of Maradona and Messi, and their enormous football ability, the
association with the yud is appropriate, indeed.
Which brings us
to another legendary number 10.
The word ot in Hebrew means
letter, sign or wonder.
Another word for wonder in Hebrew is
pele. Pele, of course, is the name of the brilliant Brazilian footballer
who played from 1956 to 1977 – the greatest player of his generation
and also arguably of all time. Pele also wore the number 10 shirt.
Sefer Yetzira, The Book of Creation, the Hebrew letters are called the
22 letters of foundation. According to Kabbala, the world was created by
the energy of these letters.
The fact that on Tuesday, June 22,
Messi will play his last game as a 22-year-old, in Argentina’s match
against Greece, on a pitch with 22 footballers, provides us with a
wonderful opportunity to look more carefully at the power and energy of
these 22 Hebrew letters in his context.
Messi’s parents were born
in Argentina, but he is of Italian ancestry. Angelo Messi came to
Argentina in 1887 from Ancona, Italy. The name Messi in Italian means
months. According to the Hebrew calendar, the Cup final will take place
on Rosh Hodesh, the first day of the month of Av.
The symbol of
the month of Av, according to Kabbala and related to the Zodiac, is the
lion (Leo). Messi’s first name Lionel (Leo) is a wonderful example of a
mix of two languages: Lion-el, meaning lion of God, as in Ari-el in
Hebrew. Another meaning of Lionel is small lion.
new month was the very first commandment given to the People of Israel
in the desert.
The Ten Commandments are said to contain each of
the 613 commandments.
Lionel Messi, the little lion with the big
roar, wearing the number 10 on his back, is not Messi the Messiah, an
idea many people have played with, but rather, Messi the messenger, a
man with a message from God.
The Cup final, to take place on Rosh
Hodesh Av, can be seen as a reminder to us from God whether or not
Messi and Argentina will be on the pitch – a reminder with universal
Let’s go back, in this context, to consider again
the letter ayin, which we noted earlier. The value of the ayin in
gematria is 70. The 70 in Kabbala refers to the 70 descendants of Noah,
representing the 70 nations and languages of the earth.
divine reminder is that while the World Cup is a wonderful festival of
different nations, languages and cultures, after which the winning team
takes the trophy home, the teams and all the nations are nonetheless
We are all Lionel Messis, confronted by and
weaving past our obstacles and challenges.
And we all have the
coveted number 10 on our backs – the hand of God, the guiding light – as
we make our journeys to our personal goals.
The writer, a
teacher who lives in northern Israel, is a veteran immigrant from South