Shemini: Eight Days A Week

Time For Miracles

The name of parsha Shemini means “the 8th.” Following seven days of inauguration, Aaron and his sons begin their work of officiating as Kohanim (priests) on the 8th day. Fire issues forth from God to consume the offerings on the altar, and the Divine Presence comes to dwell in the mishkan, the portable sanctuary in the desert.

What is the significance of the number 8 in Judaism? The Maharal of Prague (d. 1609) teaches that the number 7 represents the natural world. There are seven colors in the rainbow and seven days of the week. But the number 8 represents that which is above nature, such as fire from God appearing in the sanctuary. A baby boy enters the eternal covenant of Abraham on the 8th day of his life, forging a supernatural bond with his Creator. Chanukah is an 8 day holiday because only a Higher Power could inspire the Maccabees to battle a much larger army and make one day’s worth of oil last 8 days. 

Eight represents miracles because only God can subvert the order of the natural world – but we have a role to play too. When we follow God’s laws all week – like Aaron and the Kohanim – we partner with our Creator and that’s when miracles can happen!

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