Shemini: The Day After

What is the significance of the eighth day referred to in this week's Torah portion?

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Arutz 7

"And it was on the eighth day..."

So begins our Torah reading of Shemini, which describes the tragic death of the Tzadikim (righteous ones) Nadav & Avihu. But exactlywhat is the Torah referring to when it says "the 8th day?"

The majority of commentaries say Moshe conducted the dedication ceremony of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)  for 7 days, beginning on the 23rd of Adar. And then on the 8th day - the first Kohanim, who would now take over the service of the Mishkan & conduct the offerings.

Others, however (like Rabbi Akiva) say the dedication began on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, and "the eighth day" refers to the 8th of Nisan, when Ahron took over from Moshe.

I have another thought. "Seven," as we know, represents the normal, natural order of things: Seven days of the
week, seven levels of Heaven, seven colors of the spectrum, etc. "Eight" stands for that which is above nature,
that which transcends nature & touches on the Divine.

Ahron's ability to carry on as Kohen Gadol (High Priest) after the death of his sons - interacting with so many people & transmitting Hashem's love to all - must have been excruciatingly difficult. The fact that the nation was
And yet, we DO go on.
celebrating the opening of the Mishkan, while he was in mourning for his children, required Divine, supernatural strength to carry on. And yet somehow, Ahron found the strength to do it.

These next two weeks, particularly in Israel, cause us to focus on the enormous loss we suffered in the Holocaust, and the overwhelming grief we feel when we reflect on our brave young men and women who fell or were wounded in Israel's wars. How can a person, how can a nation, keep up its strength and go on after such calamity?

And yet, we DO go on. Like a mourner who must pick up the pieces when the seven days of mourning are done, when the crowds of comforters have gone, we continued to live after the Holocaust, and made new lives wherever we lived, impacting mightily on our societies and building Israel.

And like a Chatan and Kallah, bride and groom, who must maintain their excitement long after the Sheva Brachot (week long wedding celebration) has ended, we continued to love and give of ourselves through all the wars, even while feeling that intense loss of the children who risk, and sometimes lose their lives while serving in our defense.

The term "eighth day," of course, immediately conjures up the idea of a circumcision, the Hebrew word for which is brit, a word that also means a covenant. I suggest that the greatest brit between Man and Hashem is our undaunted determination to carry on and to maintain our faith, despite the heavy load we carry in our hearts.



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