Shemini – Touching the Infinite

The number seven represents the natural sequence of life. There were seven days of creation, and hence seven branches of the Mishkan Menorah, and we curl Tefillin straps seven times over the forearm to represent the seven Sefirot (creative energies), and seven weeks of personal growth between Pesach and Shavuot, and seven spiritual shepherds of Israel, and onwards. Yet the name of this week’s parsha is ‘eight’. In Kabbalistic teachings the number 8 represents the power beyond the natural, the source of infinity, a capacity to access much more than what we think we are capable of. We have all heard of seeming superhuman feats that are sometimes conjured up in times of crisis: a mother lifts a whole car that is pinning her child underneath; a soldier continues to fight in battle, even carrying a wounded comrade, only to discover later that he himself has been shot several times; or the capacity to find solutions at times of great personal peril where logically no solutions seem to exist. We know that size, shape, genes, and natural attributes define us. Yet, at the core, we are much more than the sum total of our component parts. The Chassidic masters described the Mishkan (portable temple in the transient desert-wandering days en route to Israel) as also existing within each one of us. And the Mishkan had a Holy of Holies where space and time bent to infinite proportions. And that is true of each one of us. We are able to call upon the infinite qualities within our personal source of infinity, our soul, facilitating capabilities far beyond what our body can seeming do. This explains the herculean feats that are often achieved at times of great need. This is the meaning of the number eight. And it is no accident that the symbol for infinity is the figure 8 on it side – . Eight means beyond the laws of nature. You too possess infinite powers. Believe in yourself and draw upon them to make the world a better place.