Number 8 – New Beginnings

London Jewish News
Published on 29 March 19

Chief Rabbi Mirivis in Parashat Shemini elegantly wrote that 8 signifies the ‘bridge connecting humanity with the Divine’. Where the number 7 signified the natural world of Creation and the perfection of humankind, and the number 9 represented the Almighty – because it fits perfectly in the world around it – the number 8 serves as the bridge between them.

In the Torah, we find many examples of the number eight. There were 8 survivors in Noah’s Ark who repopulated the world, the commandment of Circumcision was performed on the 8th day after birth. Following the 7-day festival of Sukkot there’s Shemini Atseret. And after the 7-day festival of Pesah we’re commanded to count 7 days times 7 weeks and mark the 50th day (beginning of the 8th week) as Shabuoth. The Mishkan was inaugurated on the 8th day, New-born animals could only be brought as offerings from their 8th day of life onward. By rabbinic command, there are 8 days of Hanukkah.

According to the Chief Rabbi, circumcision creates an everlasting link between a Jewish male child and God, the Divine presence rested on the Mishkan on the 8th day of its inauguration and the victory at Hanukkah was a form of Divine intervention that saved our Israelite ancestors.

Some commentators, including the Kabbalistic Maharal of Prague (1520-1609), suggest that 8 is the number above the natural order and as such it also represents the time of Messiah. Contemporary scholars suggest that we live in a world of seven, where spirituality is hidden and impersonal while the number 8 serves as a catalyst for Divine revelation.

Talmud Erakhin quoting from Psalm 12:1, informs: ‘the harp of the temple had seven strings but the harp of Messiah will have eight’.

May we be worthy of living in the Realm of 8!