In this week's Perasha, the Jewish people were counted to have 603,550 men from age 20-60 besides the tribe of Levi. There were about 600,000 souls when they left Egypt, says the Torah in Parshat Bo.
Any other significance to the number 600,000?
The Hebrew-language Wikipedia article on it gives us some more examples:
- Many opinions hold that a public domain (Reshut Harabim) must have at least 600,000 people passing through it each day
- One who sees 600,000 Jews together says the blessing חכם הרזים.
- The gemara in Gittin that talks about the 600,000 cities on Tur Malka
- The Zohar says that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah. This isn't true - it's closer to 305,000 - but there are many explanations to explain this concept.
- It's brought down in writings of Hasidut that there are 600,000 souls of Israel.
- The Kol Hator said, "If it would be possible to bring 600,000 [Jews] to Israel at one time, one should do so immediately because this number of 600,000 has a great and complete power to overpower the Samech Mem in the gates of Yerushalayim."
- Rav Akiva Yosef Shlezinger writes in "Berit Olam" that if there will be 600,000 Jews in Israel, the nations will give the Jews permission to rule in the land. Some tie these words to the fact that at the time of the War of Independence (in 1948), 600,000 Jews lived in the Yishuv of Israel. Also, during the Six Day War, the IDF had approximately 600,000 soldiers, which is something that hints to the redemption of these events.
Let's say the hareidim and Zionist-religious all study Torah - if not all day, periodically. I would say that the "religious-traditionalists" have also studied Torah periodically in a Torah class here and there. That gives us a population of 426,602. Add to that a good percentage of the "non-religious traditionalists" plus all the students studying from abroad who are over 20 and learning Torah in Israel, plus the fact that these percentages are from 2004 and they're growing, I'm sure we will soon have 600,000, if not already.According to a 2004 Israel Central Bureau of Statistics study on Israelis aged over 18, 8% of Israeli Jews define themselves as haredim (or Ultra-Orthodox); an additional 9% are "religious" (predominantly orthodox, also known in Israel as: Zionist-religious, national-religious and kippot srugot); 12% consider themselves "religious-traditionalists" (mostly adhering to Jewish Halakha); 27% are "non-religious traditionalists" (only partly respecting the Jewish Halakha), and 43% are "secular". Among the seculars, 53% say they believe in God. Due to the higher natality rate of religious and traditionalists over seculars, the share of religious and traditionalists among the overall population is even higher.
The physical battles (in 1948 and 1967) required the physical 600,000. The spiritual battles require the spiritual 600,000. In Egypt, we had much more than 600,000 who died in the plague of darkness because they weren't ready spiritually. When the time of the redemption came, only 600,000 remained. Those who remained were worthy of redemption because they were going to receive the Torah 50 days later. May we continue to grow and go מחיל אל חיל and be worthy of our own Final Redemption - may it come בב"א.