This week’s Torah reading, parshat Shemini, begins by telling us about “the eighth day” of consecrating the Kohanim. Amidst the routine of offering sacrifices, a horrific tragedy occurs within Aaron’s family on this day. The problem is, there is no ‘eighth day’.
Genesis clearly outlines a seven-day cycle. Everything that was created fits within the structure of seven days. We learn to feel secure in the number seven —the number that represents completeness, stability, and consistency.
So what do we do with the ‘eighth day’?
The other time the Torah focuses us onto the eighth day is the commandment of Brit Milah. God commands that a parent circumcise their baby boy on the eighth day of his life. It’s a ritual that is both challenging and mysterious. Each person present at a Brit ceremony cringes and celebrates at the same time. We experience conflicting emotions that overlap within seconds of each other.
In this week’s parshah, Shemini, which means ‘The Eighth’, we read of Aaron losing two of his sons in a shocking and inexplicable way. Inappropriate ritual leads to their deaths. We do not understand what happened, as we rarely understand it when death comes from nowhere and changes things forever.
We cannot unlock the mystery of the eighth day. It is where we find the hidden, underlying fabric of God manifesting in the universe. When we find ourselves in the eighth day, where the unknowns of life can take over, we appreciate the seventh day, Shabbat, even more.
I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat –our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.