Shemini 2019


Parshat Shemini
By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron


לשכנו תדרשו
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land

On the Eighth Day

According to the Tannaic master Rabbi Yehoshua man was created on the first of Nissan, in contrast to Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion which holds that man was created on the first of Tishrei. Just as man represents the dwelling of the Divine soul upon earth, so too the Mishkan represents the dwelling of the Holy Presence upon earth. Therefore, it is no surprise that the primary date of the inauguration of the Mishkan was the first of Nissan.

Our Sages also say that this date was chosen for the inauguration since the first of Nissan was the birthday of Yitzhak our father, even though the Mishkan was already ready by Hanuka of that year. Why was Yitzhak’s birthday so important to be chosen for the inauguration? Simply, we may say that Yitzhak’s birth was a great miracle due to Avraham and Sarah’s old age, and therefore the miracle of Hashem’s revelation in the Mishkan was also brought forth on this day. Examining this matter more deeply, we may say that the miracle of the birth of Yitzhak also represents the miracle of the establishment of the Divine in the real world. Before Yitzhak was born Avraham and Sarah could be seen as spiritual figures who also had spiritual influence, but yet their message could have been lost in the abyss of history since they had no “concrete” continuity, i.e offspring. Now that Yitzhak was born their Divine message takes “concrete” hold in the real world in the form of Yitzhak, the forerunner of the nation of Israel.

This also explains why the first of Nissan was also a decisive date in the formation of the People of Israel at the time of the Exodus: “this [Hashem “points out” to Moshe the new moon of Rosh Hodesh of Nissan] month shall be unto you [the People of Israel] the first of months.” Following this verse the first commandments given to Israel as a nation are specified, along with assurance that the Nation of Israel will be fully “born” as a People on Pesach two weeks later. Here too, the first of Nissan represents the Divine ideal taking form in the real world, in the form of a nation.

Taking these concepts together, we also gain a deeper understanding of the “eighth day” mentioned in the beginning of both this parsha and the next parsha, Tazria. In this parsha the eighth day is the first of Nissan, the birthday of Yitzhak, while the eighth day in parshat Tazria is the eighth day from birth, the day of brit mila. Yitzhak was the first to be circumcised on the eighth day from birth. Indeed, according to our Sages birth and circumcision are one unit, since the baby is considered to be not in its proper form from birth till circumcision. This concept can also be seen in light of the fact that the “eighth day” always falls on the same day of the week (Sunday. Monday, etc.) as the first day [see also an octave in music]. Indeed, also in regard to the Exodus and Pesah, Rosh Hodesh Nissan falls on the same day of the week as Pesah two weeks later. After the first day of Pesah yet again begins a cycle of seven, i.e seven times seven, throughout the Omer period, culminating with the “eighth day,” Shavuot.

Hebron too carries an implication of being “eighth” in a cycle: “Hebron was built seven years before Tzoan of Egypt.” This verse implies that Hebron stands at the beginning of “seven”, while “Tzoan” is the “eighth” concept. Although “Tzoan” is simply the name of a city in Egypt, homiletically we may tie a connection between the verb root of Tzoan and the verse in Isaiah 33, 20: “Look on Zion, the city of our festivals; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved.” The word for “moved” is “yitzan,” from the same verb root of Tzoan. Based on this, we may say that “Tzoan of Egypt” actually hints to the “movement from Egypt,” i.e the Exodus, drawing a clear connection between Hebron and the Exodus. Indeed, our Sages say that the Exodus occurred in merit of the Patriarchs of Hebron.

Real Stories from the Holy Land #308

Syach, a Druze soldier in the Israeli army, was confronted one day by Rabbi Yakov Ades, who asked to be taken to pray at the tomb of Otniel ben Kenaz in Hebron. Generally speaking, access to this tomb is forbidden to Jews, except for rare occasions. Nevertheless, Syach, even though he did not know that he had been asked by Rabbi Ades, felt pulled to his compelling presence like a magnet. Therefore, with no rational explanation he allowed the rabbi to pray at the tomb. Afterwards, the rabbi blessed Syach that he should be secure and safe. Two weeks later, the well-known battle at the Heroes’ Alley in Hebron occurred. Syach bravely fought at this battle. Numerous bullets flew through his casket hat, but unexplainably none hurt him. Syach attributed this miracle to what had occurred two weeks before…

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