Vol 17.12 - Shemini 1                                       Spanish French Audio  Video

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Midrash Vayikra Rabbah

Explanation of the nature of "Shemini" (according the the explanation of the Kli Yakar at the beginning of the Parsha) and its connection to the messianic era. Explanation of the Alter Rebbe (Tanya chap.37) that the reward in the Messianic era is specifically "dependent on our deeds and Avodah during the entire time of Galut."


The name of a Torah portion indicates its content. Thus, although this week's portion, Shemini (lit. "Eighth"), speaks of many different topics, all are somehow related to the central theme of eight.

The "eighth" referred to in Shemini is the eighth day of the Sanctuary's consecration. In last week's portion we read about the first seven days of consecration, but they are not mentioned here. Interestingly, the end of Shemini deals with a subject seemingly unrelated to the concept of eight: the signs distinguishing a kosher animal from a non-kosher one.

This leads to an obvious question: Why would the first seven days of consecration, a logical lead-in to the concept of eight, be omitted, but a topic that is seemingly unconnected to this theme be included in Shemini?

To explain: The name of our portion is not "The Eighth Day" but rather "Eighth," for it alludes to a broader principle. The number eight is symbolic of a level higher than this world, denoting that which transcends creation. There are many things in the physical world that occur in "sevens"; the number seven belongs to the natural order. Spirituality, by contrast, is higher than the physical world and the number seven, and is thus represented by the number eight.

The intent behind the creation of the world is that it become permeated with G-d's Divine light, a process that is accomplished when Jews observe Torah and mitzvot. The world was created for the purpose of combining the "eight" - spirituality - with the "seven" -the material world, which is another way of saying bringing G-dliness into creation.

Understanding this concept helps to clarify why the seven days of consecration are not mentioned in Shemini. During these days, Moses, Aaron and his sons readied the Sanctuary for the service that would be performed there, working within the natural order, i.e., the number seven. Shemini, however, represents a higher level - the level that follows the seven days of preparation. For it was on the eighth day that the Divine Presence came down to rest on the Sanctuary - the successful fusion of spirituality (eight) with the material world (seven).

The subject of kosher and non-kosher animals teaches us that every detail in the world relates to our service of G-d. Even the animals were created by G-d for the purpose of enabling the Jew to refine both himself and the world at large. Accordingly, this topic is directly related to the number eight and the Torah portion of Shemini, for it expresses the concept of bringing G-dliness into the physical world through mitzvot.

In the Messianic era, G-d's glory, which is higher than creation, will be so obvious that human beings will be able to perceive it with the fleshly eye. At that time the Divine Presence will dwell in the physical world - which is why Moshiach's harp will have eight chords and not seven, like King David's.

http://www.lchaimweekly.org/lchaim/5758/515.htm. Adapted from Likutei Sichot, Volume 17


1. The division of the Sidrot - namely the 53 Torah portions, has been spoken about many times – in that even though each Sidra contains numerous Parshiot, and each Parsha is an aspect in itself, nevertheless, the very fact that they are contained in the same Sidra is proof that they have a common factor that binds them together.

And since the nature of every object is conveyed and emphasized by its name, in the name that it is called in Hebrew – it is understood that a common thread  (which is present in all the aspects of the Sidra) is alluded to by the name of the Sidra  (for the names of the Sidrot were given according to Torah).

And even though , regarding the subject of each individual parsha, the difference between the first and last parsha of one sidra, is greater than the first Parsha from one sidra to the last parsha of the preceding sidra –

since the Parshiot are close (b’semichus) to each other  (and the concept of “semichos/proximity” is a form of Torah study)

(when there are many Parshiot that digress between the first parsha and the last parsha),

nevertheless the , aforementioned, common thread is specifically in the Parshiot (even when they are not close (in subject matter) to one another, for they are in the same Sidra.

2. It is therefore also understood from this, regarding our Sidra:

For even though, on one hand, the beginning of the sidra: “And it was on the eight day” has a much greater connection to the conclusion of the previous sidra, than to the Parsha (at the conclusion of Shemini): “these are the living things that you may eat etc.”

And this is also plainly understood that “And it was on the eight day” comes in continuation to the topic of seven days of inauguration at the conclusion of the previous sidra. whereas “these are the living things etc.”, seemingly, has no connection –

nevertheless, since each sidra has a common thread, which is distinct from all the other Sidrot, it is understood that that both Parshiot:

·         “And it was on the eight day” and

·         “these are the living things”

have a distinct topic that is not is the Parsha of “Take Aharon etc.” (the beginning of the last Parsha of Tzav , the previous Sidra). And this distinct topic is conveyed by the name of the sidra – “Shemini”.

3. Since the name of the sidra does not indicate that it is the (eighth day of the) inauguration , nor even that it is speaking about an eighth day at all – since the name of the sidra is not “Yom Shemini”/the Eighth Day” but rather just “Shemini” (Eight/simply) – it is understood that the subject (of the entire sidra) is the general concept of “Shemini”, an eight - and not the specific aspect of (the inauguration or days) in which it is an eighth.

As was explained  (in Par.2) concerning the difference between the connection to the preceding sidra, and the connection to another Parsha in the Sidra itself - it comes out that the Parsha “Take Aharon” from the previous Sidra is, in regard to the common thread (of the current Sidra) just a preface to Shemini. However, it is not a part of Shemini. (Just as it plainly is – that the “Seven Inaugural Days” are a preface to the eighth day).

However, “these are the living things” is a part of Shemini itself.

4. This can be understood by prefacing that which the number Shemini /eight contains two extremes:

  • On one hand the number eight depicts an aspect that is comparatively separate/muvdal from those that preceded it. As the Kli Yakar explains that all things in Creation are of the number seven, and the number eight is “specially for G-d/meyuchad eilav Yisborach”.

And the explanation of this, as is explained in many places, is that the number “Shiva/seven” , does not comprise just the things that are in Creation itself, but rather it also includes the G-dly light which is enclothed in Creation. Whereas Shemini alludes to the (G-dly) light which is higher than that which is enclothed in the word (hecher fun hislabshus) – a level of light which is above Histalshelut (the order of Creation).

  • However, on the other hand, the translation of the word Shemini itself – Eighth - depicts that it is not an independent entity, but something that has a relation (and comes in continuation) to the aspects of “shiva/seven”.

And this is the innovation in the aspect of Shemini. The completeness of G-d’s revelation is reflected in it.

The primary intent is that the light which is above Hishtalshelus, should be drawn (in a revealed manner) into the world. This is alluded to by the word Shemini meaning that even that which is separate and higher than Creation (from the level “seven” – as aforementioned in the Kli Yakar) should be in a manner of Shemini which has a relation (to the level seven) to the aspects of Creation.

5. This is also the explanation why the “Kinor/Lyre of the Messianic Era/yemot HaMoshiach” will be comprised of “eight strings”:

The innovation that will be manifested in the Messianic Era –  is that: “the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see”. For although the “glory of the L-rd” is incomparably higher than Creation, it will, at that time, be revealed in a manner that “all flesh together shall see” – a physical sight from physical flesh. So much so, that the revelation of the level of “G-d’s glory” will be (not as an innovative manner) but in a plain manner in the physical world.

This means that when one’s physical flesh sees “G-d’s glory”, it will be with the natural abilities of his  (at that time’s) physical being, which will then be the true manner of “natural manner” (derech peshitus).

When the body “sees” G-d’s glory only from the perspective that “G-d’s glory” is omnipotent (bli gevul) and that He can consequently lower Himself to such a degree that He can also be “seen” with the physical flesh,

                (which is not possible with the flesh’s ability itself)

then the revelation of G-dliness in the world (even when it comes into physical sight) is in a manner of “innovation/chidush”. It is an innovation and an addition to the world. Since this – that the flesh can “see” G-d’s glory – is not because of his nature.

The (true) explanation of “derech peshitus” (natural manner) is that when one’s physical flesh sees “G-d’s glory”, it will be with the natural abilities of the flesh itself. Namely, in the same manner as the physical eyes see physical objects. This is because it is the nature and ability of the physical eyes themselves.

And this is the connection between Yemot HaMoshiach with the number “eight”. The aspect of “And the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see” (which will be the innovation in Yemot HaMoshiach) expresses itself in the two aforementioned extremes which is in the level “eight”:

  • The “glory of the L-rd” is separate and higher, comparatively, from Creation which stems from the number seven.
  • Yet nevertheless is becomes revealed in the world in such a fashion that this (seeing the revelation) will be from the nature of the world itself - the “eight” will be together with the “seven”.

6. One must however understand:

The reason that the world is now in a condition where one cannot see G-dliness (not even the level of G-dliness that is relevant to Creation) is

 (not because it is an additional thing to the existence of the world, but)

because the world was created in this way. Therefore, since the concealment/helem and hiddenness in the world is because of its essential being,

(which is why it is called “Olam” (and the name of each thing evokes its primary nature) which is from the word helem/ concealment)

how is it possible that the (aspect of): “all flesh together shall see” in the Future, will be with the physical flesh itself, since this is the opposite of the nature and makeup of the (flesh) world?

7. The Alter Rebbe states that:

“The revelation of Ein Sof-light in this physical world” which will be in the Messianic era and (the time of the resurrection of the dead), is “dependent on our actions and (divine) service throughout the period of exile”.

What, seemingly, is the specific reason for the precise words: “throughout the period of exile”?

The reason that through “our actions and Avodah”, we effect “the revelation of Ein Sof-light in this physical world” is because of the advantage of Mitzvot,

(as he actually states there that: “by the performance (of the Mitzvot) a person draws the revelation of the blessed Ein Sof-light from above downwards, to be clothed in the physicality of this world".

How is this specifically relevant with “throughout the period of exile”?

One of the (possible) explanations is:

In order that the revelation of the Messianic era and the resurrection of the dead, be felt from the natural tendency of the world itself (as aforementioned Par. 5) – it specifically requires that the drawing down of G-dliness through the Mitzvah,

                (for this effluence will be come to revelation in the Future)

not be an additional thing in the world,

(meaning that the Mitzvot only accomplish that the world become able to receive a G-dly light. However, the world itself remains as it was before, because of its nature, a “world” from the word helem/ concealment)

but rather that the effluence from the Mitzvah, be in a manner which transforms the physicality of the world.

Therefore the revelation of the Messianic era is “dependent on our actions and Avodah throughout the period of exile – since this aspect which is in the Mitzvot (to transform the world itself) is (mainly) through the Mitzvot that one fulfills in the period of Galut.

8. The reason that the performance of Mitzvot, in general, effects such an effluence that transforms the essence of the world is because:

The purpose of the Creation of the world is “because of the Torah and because of Yisroel”, namely that Yidden through the performance of Torah and Mitzvot accomplish a revelation of G-dliness in the world.

Therefore the revelation of G-dliness that is drawn into the world by Yidden and Torah, is not an aspect that is additional to the world’s being –

for since this (the revelation of G-dliness that comes from Yidden and Torah) is the intent and purpose of the world itself, this means that the world itself (in its Pnimiyut) “demands” that it fulfil (its purpose) (which is) the revelation of G-dliness within it (through the performance of Torah and Mitzvot by Yidden).

This alone, however, is not sufficient:

Since the nature of the “world” (as its namesake) is helem/concealment, as aforementioned -

meaning that from (the time of) Creation, its essential being is one that does not feel the purpose that must be accomplished within it, but rather, on the contrary, it is an aspect of concealment , from (the time of ) Creation -

it comes out that with regard to the being and aspect of the world itself, the effluence of G-dliness that comes through Mitzvot is as if it is an additional thing.

And this very question is averted by saying that, that which the revelation in the Future is accomplished through “our actions and Avodah” - it is (mainly by their performance) “throughout the period of exile” as will be explained.

9. It is explained in Chassidut in many places that during the period of exile, the power for self-sacrifice/Mesirat Nefesh illuminates, more than in the time of the Beit HaMikdash. For specifically the concealment and hiddenness (of the period of exile) evokes the revelation of the power for self-sacrifice.

How it is that “helem/concealment” evokes the revelation (of self-sacrifice)?  “helem/concealment” and “gilui /revelation” are opposites?

And even though this is seemingly a natural tendency,

like the physical parable of this where the completeness of the will of the soul resides more in the heel of the foot, than in the head,

one must, however ,understand why G-d established the nature of Creation this way?

The explanation is:

In order to achieve the intent of Creation that there be an “abode for G-d below in this world”, namely that world itself becomes an abode for G-d, also from its nature - G-d created the world in such a manner that its purpose and intent be reflected in it.

And since the intent in which the world was created is in a manner of concealment and hiddenness, in order for it to manifest a higher revelation - “yisron ha'or min ha'choshech” (the advantage of light which comes from the darkness) – the world was established in such a manner, that specifically the “concealment” should evoke (and be a receptacle/kli to) a loftier light.

Also since the world itself

 (while it is still a “World/Olam from the word helem/ concealment”, before the intent which is in it is revealed)

reflects that the intent of the concealment itself is in order that an additional and advantageous light, should be drawn (through fulfilling Mitzvot) into it – therefore the revelation of G-dliness in the world (through fulfilling Mitzvot) is connected with the essence of the world itself.

And this is the explanation why it says that the revelation in the Future is “dependent on our actions and Avodah throughout the period of exile – since the self-sacrifice in the period of exile, causes that the concealment of the world itself evokes and reveals that its purpose is the revelation of G-dliness that is achieved through Torah and Mitzvot.

And this is the reason why the effluence of G-dliness that is drawn from fulfilling Mitzvot during the period of Galut, manifests (with greater measure) and enclothes itself (more) in the entity of the “physicality of this world” itself. So much so that it manifests itself in a revealed manner in the Future – that the (aspect of) “the glory of the L-rd shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see” will be from the natural properties of the flesh itself.

10. According to all of the above, one can understand the difference between:

  • The connection of Parshat Shmini to the conclusion of the Sidra of the previous Parshat Tzav,
  • and the connection of the Parsha of “these are the living things that you may eat etc.” to Parshat Shemini itself:

During the seven days of inauguration which is discussed at the conclusion of Parshat Tzav, Aharon and his sons did all that was required to be done from (the aspect of) Avodah in this world – even the drawing down of G-dliness which is drawn down from an isarusa de-le'sata (an awakening from below) – which is included in the level “seven” (note: within nature).

But all this was like a preparation and preface tTo the (aspect of) the “glory of the L-rd”,

– referring to the dwelling of the Shechina in the Tabernacle on the eighth day of the inauguration

namely that it be in a manner of “Shemini”.

This means that the level of G-dliness that is completely separate from Creation should (also) be connected with the aspects of Creation (which is represented by the number) seven.

This is why the Parsha “these are the living things etc.” which speaks about non-kosher wild and domesticated animals etc. and the prohibition of eating them and their impurity – is connected and is a part of Parshat Shemini itself:

The refinement of the world,

from the word concealment/helem , from which it will be completely manifested that its intent is the revelation G-dliness - meaning the level of light that that is completely separate from Creation – (this refinement)

is accomplished from that which there is an existence and an allowance for non-kosher wild and domesticated animals etc. ,

(representing a deeper concealment)

yet nevertheless there is (the command to “To distinguish between the unclean and between the clean, and between the living creatures which may be eaten and between the living creature which may not be eaten." (Note: meaning that one still refrains from it).

(This is like the saying of the Sages: “one should not say: ‘it is impossible for me to eat Chazir/pig’, but rather one should say ‘it is possible, however what should I do since my Father in heaven decreed upon me (not to eat it’)

Thus through this there is also refinement in the concealment which gives room to non-kosher wild and domesticated animals etc. This is like the Midrash which states on the verse: “this is the animal” – “Mitzvot were only given to purify people (lo nitnu ha'mitzvos lYisroel elah l'tzareif bahen es ha'beriyos) (the word “purify/tziruf” here means refining/zichuch).

Through this,

that in the “concealment”, there is reflected the intent and purpose - the revelation of G-dliness -

 that the essential will of a Yid  (the “my Father in heaven decreed upon me”) is revealed -

this accomplishes the revelation of “Shemini” – that the revelation of G-dliness which is completely higher than the world becomes revealed in “seven” - it becomes “Shemini/eight” – revealed and united in Creation itself, as aforementioned, at length.

According to this it is understood why the Midrash states that the unclean animals represents that which -”Moshe saw the kingdoms in their evil tendencies/isukan” as he explains there simply that it means the darkness and concealment from each Galut. For the innovation and revelation of: “these are the living etc.”, “to distinguish etc.” is the aspect that is accomplished through Galut, whose effluence comes out openly in the Future, the Kinor/Lyre of “eight strings”.

And as the Midrash concludes:

 “and the Chazir/pig – this is Edom etc. And why it is called Chazir? For it will return the crown to its Owner as it states:  ‘And saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esav’ (“V'alu moshi'im behar tzion lishpot es har eisav") and the kingdom will be      G-d’s.”

M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Shemini 5731, 5736

Shabbat Parshat Acharei; Ma’amar Acharon Shel Pesach 5725



http://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/149842/jewish/Crown-Jewels-Parshas-Shemini.htm(external link)

http://www.meaningfullife.com/torah/the-kosher-pig/(external link)

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