This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Parshat Shemini (5766)
This week's section tells of the eighth and final day of the inauguration of the Tabernacle in the desert.
At first glance it is not understood why it had to fall out on the eighth day. Isn't the number seven holy in Judaism? The Sabbath is the seventh day and so is the Shmita, and so is the Jubilee year.
Why was the tabernacle different? True the bris; the circumcision of a child, is on the eighth day as well but it could be explained that G-d knew that one day earlier the child may be too weak to survive circumcision.
But here such a thing isn't relevant.
To answer this here is a short but powerful story I heard attributed to Rabbi Yonatan Eibeshitz some four hundred years ago in Europe.
Because he was a great and famous figure, eventually the king invited him for a private audience.
The king held himself to also be an intellectual and in wasn't long before he began peppering the Rabbi with difficult questions comparing Judaism to the other religions, trying to trip him up.
Of course in such cases it was as dangerous to win as it was to lose. One word against the king's religion could result in disaster as could an insufficient reply.
Finally the king asked the most difficult question of all; what does it mean when the Bible calls the Jews G-d's chosen people? How do we see they are different from any other people or religion? Exactly the opposite! They are outnumbered and belittled by all the other nations! Obviously the 'Old Testament' is speaking about days of old, but not now!
Rabbi Eibeshitz thought for a moment and answered.
"I can show your majesty the difference, but only on the condition that I have your majesty's word that no harm will come to the Jews from anything your majesty sees today."
The king promised, the Rabbi asked him to disguise himself as a common citizen so as not to be recognized and to follow him to the synagogue.
It happened to be in the middle of the holiday of Passover. Rabbi Eibeshitz stood on the podium and announced that after the evening prayer he wanted to make an announcement. The word spread like wildfire and in just moments the entire place was packed.
"You all know," The Rabbi said as the room fell silent. "That it is forbidden by Royal decree to be in the possession of silk. Well I want everyone to run home and bring all the silk he has hidden." (The Jews sold the silk to tailors or to other merchants to keep them from poverty).
In moments the room was empty and minutes later it was full again. Each man produced a roll or two of silk hidden under his coat. The Rabbi looked briefly at the rolls of cloth and then announced.
"Fine! Now I want everyone to take your silks back and appear back here as soon as possible with all the Chametz (unleavened bread and cakes, forbidden on Passover) you have in your homes."
The people looked at each other and then at the Rabbi in horror. "But Rabbi!" they blurted out "That is impossible. No one has Chametz! G-d forbid! No one would even dream of having Chametz on Passover! G-d forbid!!
Where could we possibly get Chametz from??"
"Very good!" Said the Rabbi "That is what I wanted to hear. Have a good holiday, all of you! G-d bless you all!!" And the people filed by the Rabbi, shook his hand and soon the Rabbi and the King were alone in the synagogue.
"Do you see?" the Rabbi said. Your majesty has soldiers and police everywhere and anyone caught in the possession of silk will be heavily fined and even imprisoned. And nevertheless you see that some of the Jews do possess silk
But no one of those people ever saw G-d and He has no soldiers or police. In fact today a Jew can, G-d forbid, transgress all of the commandments and receive no fine, no imprisonment, not even a slap on the hand; no punishment what-so-ever! But despite all this, none would think to own Chametz.
That is why the Jews are 'chosen', not because G-d necessarily favors them (although we believe that soon Moshiach will make G-d, His Torah and His people precious to the entire world) but because WE favor G-d. above all logic and reason!"
This answers our question.
The reason that the Tabernacle was finished on the EIGHTH day specifically:
because the number eight signifies ABOVE being holy.
Holiness is only a REVELATION of G-dliness, while the Jews are attached to the essence of G-d Himself; above all logic or sense.
And this is what was revealed in the Tabernacle (and also in the Bris Mila circumcision); that the Jews, G-d and Torah are one! They are above all logic and revelations. Rather they are attached to the SOURCE of holiness.
This will be especially accomplished by Moshiach who will reveal the true identity of the Jewish people. That is why the harp of the Temple was seven strings and that of Moshiach will be eight.
Because Moshiach will reveal the true G-dliness in the Jews and in all creation.
We only have to open our eyes and see that.....(in the language of the Lubavitcher Rebbe) "Behold! Moshiach is here!!"
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