Shemini – The Power of Eight

by Avatar of Swerdlow Swerdlow on Apr 15 - 12:04 am UTC

Shemini

Shemini – The Power of Eight

The weekly Torah portion is more than a story. It is a coded text with a specific energy and wisdom that can be personally applied to improve our lives each and every week.

The Realm of Miracles -The portion of Shemini opens with the words – “On the eighth day” referring to the day on which the Tabernacle was finally completed following Aaron’s consecration and installation as the High Priest and the day when G-d’s presence appeared before the people. While human life is essentially connected to a cycle of Seven (seven days of the week, seven sabbatical years, seven seas, seven continents, seven colors of the rainbow, seven days of creation), the number Eight goes one beyond and connects to the realm of miracles. By being one more than Seven, Eight naturally connects to a higher order of nature. According to Kabbalah, the seven lower sephirot, represent the body, while the eighth sephirot (from Malchut going up), is called Binah and connects to the head – a higher level of consciousness. It is interesting to note that the number Eight, when put on its side, is the sign of infinity – another hint to its connection to a higher realm where miracles occur. We can learn that by connecting to 8, whether at a brit on the eighth day after a baby is born, through the 8-days of Chanukah or on the eighth day when the Tabernacle was completed, we transcend the regular frame in our lives and can connect to the energy of miracles.

No Shortcuts – The portion continues, immediately after G-d appears to the people, with Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu making an “unauthorized” fire offering. They are consumed by fire and killed. G-d then tells Aaron that neither he nor his other sons are to drink wine or other fermented drink before going into the Tent of Meeting to connect with G-d.The sages suggest that Nadav and Avihu were so overwhelmed with the presence of G-d that they literally become intoxicated in order to experience His full glory without restriction. We learn from this that there is no shortcut to the experience of connecting with the Light of G-d. Rather you must exercise restriction and only through sobriety can you truly distinguish from good and evil and use free will to connect to your highest self.

Emunah – We read in the portion how Aaron does not weep or mourn following the death of his two sons. Kabbalists share that he immediately recognized that this was part of his correction for his role in building the Golden Calf. It is important to understand that no matter how bad things can be (G-d forbid the death of a loved one), at a certain level it is all from G-d and if we can get to a point of total faith and certainty that it is all for the best (even though it may not be what we want), then it is easier to embrace and manage challenges in our lives.

Energy of Restriction and Balance – We reach the middle of the Torah (in letters) in this week’s portion of Shemini. This center point is located at a big letter Vav in the word “gachon” which means belly. The word belly reminds us of the serpent in the Garden of Eden that was made to “go on his belly” for eternity for instigating the original sin – an instance where humanity did not exercise restriction. Whenever we reach the middle of something, we can connect to the energy of Balance – the central column in Kabbalah between Sharing (right column) and Receiving (left column). By connecting to this midpoint during the reading this week, we are able to connect to both the energy of restriction and to the central column energy which allows us to more easily achieve and maintain balance in our lives

Have a great week!

Avatar of Swerdlow
Richard Swerdlow

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