Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

“Putting the Alef into ‘gola’ to make ‘Geulah’–Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited”

Shemini (“Eighth”)—Higher Than 7 and 8

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a year when the Yom Tov of Pesach falls out on Shabbos, as it does this year — 5778).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshat] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year is] Shmeina [fat]”—with material and spiritual abundance.  All the more so in the year this sicha was originally said, when it coincided with beginning to learn Pirkei Avos, and also Sefiras Ha’Omer started and ended on Shabbos.  This special quality is not only present in a year when this occurs, but is drawn into all the years until the next time that it comes to be read 8 times.

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. What is the significance of 8?  The world derives from 7—this is the number of days of Creation, days of the week, the 7 midos (emotional attributes as described in Chassidus).  The number 7 represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation, the “Seder Hishtalshelus”. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Hishtalshelus, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina (revelation of G-dliness Above the Creation) being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above Hishtalshelus (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.

This is a unification of 2 things: 1) Revelation above limitation and 2) Limitation.  These two aspects when unified allow for the recipient to be a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way.  The order of this avodah is from below to above.  This is connected with the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.

[We find that the Aron (the ark which housed the tablets) possessed just such a quality [of opposites co-existing]. The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed. The Rashba cites this as proof of the existence of the phenomenon of the logically impossible.  Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)]

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Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

“Putting the Alef into ‘gola’ to make ‘Geulah’–Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited”

Shemini (“Eighth”)—Higher Than 7 and 8

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a year when the Yom Tov of Pesach falls out on Shabbos).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshat] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year is] Shmeina [fat]”—with material and spiritual abundance.  All the more so in the year this sicha was originally said, when it coincided with beginning to learn Pirkei Avos, and also Sefiras Ha’Omer started and ended on Shabbos.  This special quality is not only present in a year when this occurs, but is drawn into all the years until the next time that it comes to be read 8 times.

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. What is the significance of 8?  The world derives from 7—this is the number of days of Creation, days of the week, the 7 midos (emotional attributes as described in Chassidus).  The number 7 represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation, the “Seder Hishtalshelus”. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Hishtalshelus, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina (revelation of G-dliness Above the Creation) being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above Hishtalshelus (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.

This is a unification of 2 things: 1) Revelation above limitation and 2) Limitation.  These two aspects when unified allow for the recipient to be a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way.  The order of this avodah is from below to above.  This is connected with the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.

[We find that the Aron (the ark which housed the tablets) possessed just such a quality [of opposites co-existing]. The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed. The Rashba cites this as proof of the existence of the phenomenon of the logically impossible.  Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)]

Continue reading

Shemini 5751: Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited

“Putting the Alef into ‘gola’ to make ‘Geulah’–Unifying the Limited and the Unlimited”

Shemini (“Eighth”)—Higher Than 7 and 8

Periodically parshas Shemini (“Eighth”, referring to the 8th day of setting up the Mishkan in the desert) is read 8 times (this occurs outside of Eretz Yisroel in a year when the Yom Tov of Pesach falls out on Shabbos).  This gives rise to the expression “Shemini Shmoneh Shmeina”, meaning “[When parshat] Shemini (“Eighth”) [is read] Shmoneh [eight times, then the year is] Shmeina [fat]”—with material and spiritual abundance.  All the more so in the year this sicha was originally said, when it coincided with beginning to learn Pirkei Avos, and also Sefiras Ha’Omer started and ended on Shabbos.  This special quality is not only present in a year when this occurs, but is drawn into all the years until the next time that it comes to be read 8 times.

The “eighth” that is mentioned in this parsha is the beginning of the indwelling of the Shechina in the Mishkan. What is the significance of 8?  The world derives from 7—this is the number of days of Creation, days of the week, the 7 midos (emotional attributes as described in Chassidus).  The number 7 represents G-dly light as it is enclothed in the Creation, the “Seder Hishtalshelus”. The number 8 represents the G-dly light above Hishtalshelus, and it is specifically on the 8th day that we find the Shechina (revelation of G-dliness Above the Creation) being revealed in the Mishkan.

Ultimate Purpose of Creation

Hashem’s intent in creating the world is that the G-dly light that is above Hishtalshelus (represented by Shemini, 8th) will not remain separate but rather will be drawn down to be revealed in the world in a way that the world, on its own terms, will be able to receive this revelation.

This is a unification of 2 things: 1) Revelation above limitation and 2) Limitation.  These two aspects when unified allow for the recipient to be a vessel to accept this revelation in an internalized way.  The order of this avodah is from below to above.  This is connected with the revelation of the Shechina in “the work of your hands”, the Mishkan.

This is exemplified in the words of the Sages that the place of the Aron Kodesh (containing the Luchos) transcended limitation (“eino min hamida”).  The Aron itself had precise measurements, but the place transcended limitation, meaning limitation and unlimited together, that the unlimited can be grasped by within the bounds of the lower (limited) entity.

[We find that the Aron (the ark which housed the tablets) possessed just such a quality [of opposites co-existing]. The Talmud states that “the position occupied by the Aron did not take up any space.” That is, the Aron had definite physical dimensions — 2½ cubits length, 1½ cubits width, 1½ cubits height. Logically then, when placed in the Holy of Holies, the Aron should have occupied this amount of space. Yet, the Talmud tells us, it took up no space at all! This is logically impossible — for it is the synthesis of two opposites: the finite and the infinite. Yet in the case of the Aron, it existed. The Rashba cites this as proof of the existence of the phenomenon of the logically impossible.  Not only did the Aron transcend the limits of nature (itself a great miracle, since the Aron was made of physical gold), but simultaneously the finite and infinite co-existed together in it: the Aron had definite physical limits, yet took up no space…Its concept is made possible from a level that transcends both of them, allowing the synthesis of these two opposites. (From sicha of 23 Elul, 5742)]

Continue reading