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The Eighth Day

The preparations for the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) took seven days, during which Moses himself performed the service in preparation for the eighth day, the day of G-d’s anticipated revelation, when the Shechinah would descend and rest upon the Tabernacle. Moses commanded his brother Aaron and sons to prepare themselves to perform the service in the Mishkan.

Finally the long anticipated day arrived: the eighth day. In the first verse of the portion of Shmini, Moses gives over the news that the Divine presence will soon rest upon the Tabernacle, the work of their hands. “And it was on the 8th day and Moses called… and he said… Today G-d will appear to you.”

This was a great day for the Jewish people. It began a new era, an era in which G-d would cast his Shechinah upon the Mishkan and dwell in the midst of the Jewish people. It was actually the first full day of Temple service. Yet it is called the eighth day. Why? The first seven days were only practice, preparation. They are insignificant in relation to the importance of the eighth day, yet it is named only in relation to them!

The eighth day is holy—and this in itself is its special quality. The number eight has spiritual significance.

The rule is that the number seven represents the natural order, while the number eight transcends it.

In the Hebrew calendar, cycles come in sevens: Seven days of the week. Six years of working the land, followed by the seventh year, Shmittah.

The number eight, on the other hand, signifies holiness that is above nature, above the normal order of life.

A brit milah, circumcision, is performed on a child on the eighth day of life. A child who is circumcised has a relationship with G-d that transcends nature.

There are eight nights of Chanukah, a holiday that symbolizes the miraculous lights of holiness which burn despite the darkness of the world outside.

In the future Holy Temple, the Levites will play Divine music on a harp of eight strings.

The Shechinah rested on the Mishkan after seven days of preparation. On the eighth day. On a day that signifies a transcendent level of holiness.

Despite the independent significance of the eighth day, it is attributed to the seven days that preceded it. Because in order to reach the heights of the eighth day, we need the preparation of the seven days. Do not think that sublime spiritual levels come on their own, as a gift from Above, without preparation or effort. Only after thorough toil and selfperfection, without immediate reward, do we come to the full revelation of the eighth day, when G-d Himself appears and shines His presence upon us, in a supernatural manner.

Thanks to the preparation of the Jews during the seven inaugural days, they merited the revelation of the eighth day. We are anticipating the rebuilding of the third Holy Temple, in which will rest a magnificent level of holiness. Yet this revelation depends upon our deeds and actions now, during the time of exile. When we will do the proper preparations we will merit the ultimate revelation, with the coming of our righteous Moshiach.

 

 


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