Weekly Sidra: Shemini (Eight)
Torah Portion: Vayikra / Leviticus 9:1-11:47
Haftorah: Sh’muel Bet / II Samuel 6:1-6:19
This week’s Parasha is called Shemini, which could be translated the Eighth. The number eight represents a level that is higher than nature, and above time. This is the level of the miraculous, which is not bound by the laws of nature. The number eight is also associated with the revelation of Mashiach. It is also commanded that when a son is birth that we are to perform the rite of circumcision on the eight day of his birthday.
This number is also related to the world to come, which can be viewed through the shadow of Shemeni Atzeret which is the “the Eighth [day] of Assembly” , which is a day after the last day of Sukkot, which is celebrated the eight day. So the number eight is not an end but the beginning of some thing new. With the eighth day we leave the area of creation and even step across the boundaries of the passing the messianic age to a whole new level. The eighth day does not fall within world history and the human task to sanctify time.
World history goes on six days, until a period of rest which is the Shabbat or Sabbath day of creation called “ yom shekulo Shabbat” the day that is all Sabbath (the Sabbath is rehearsal for the future world. Each week we have the glorious opportunity to partake in the world to come), then comes the reset button which is the eighth day. From then on people will not longer toil on the fields of world history. After the seventh day, the eight day will begin, a day without an end. This day is described as the endlessness day. It is within this frame that we receive from heaven the New Jerusalem, Yerushalayim Shel Zehav. Hitgalut / Revelation 21:2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband.
Shabbat is Me’ein Olam Haba – a Taste to the world to come.
Shabbat signifies not only that HaKodesh Baruch Hu (the Holy One blesed be He) rested at the end of the creation, but it signifies the end of this world as well. Why did Hashem specifically rest on the Seventh Day? Could He not have created for three days, taken a day off, and then finished the work? Shabbat as the Seventh Day is the day of rest not only because it represents the creation but also because it represents the Next World. As this world approaches its end, we move towards a “yom shekulo Shabbat umenucha lechaye haoloam” “a Shabbat and rest day for eternal life”. Shabbat is not only a holy day but will represent the holy era called the Next World. Shabbat in that sense as well gives meaning to the creation.
The rabbi’s of old tell us: “This world is like a lobby before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the lobby so that you may enter the banquet hall” (Avot 4:21). The main purpose of this world is as a means of entering the Next World. Of course this world is a place where we can learn Torah and fulfill Mitzvot, but our main goal is to strive to arrive in the Next World, to a “yom shekulo Shabbat” where “HaShem alone shall be exalted in that day” (Yeshayahu 2:17), everything else will be null and void.