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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shmini

Parashat Shmini

On the Eighth Day he Called

Rabbi Yossef Carmel24 Nissan 5766
3017
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Our parasha begins with a seemingly innocuous, chronological detail: the events described took place on the eighth day of the Mishkan’s inauguration. However, the Sefat Emet taught, based on midrashim, many deep ideas to connect these words to the illusive metaphoric p’sukim of Mishlei 9 (1-3). We bring those p’sukim’s literal translation: "With wisdoms she built her house, she carved out its seven pillars. She prepared her meat and her wine and even set her table. She sent her young women and called on the high places of the city (karet)".

The midrash (Vayikra Rabba 11) gives various possibilities as to the subjects of these p’sukim. Rav Yirmiya explains it in terms of the creation of the world. Hashem created the world with wisdom; the seven pillars are the days of the week. Rav Abba relates them to the subject of our parasha, the Mishkan. Betzalel, architect of the Mishkan, built it; the pillars are the seven days of inauguration, which lead up to the eighth day of our parasha. The meat and wine are the sacrifices and the libations that were offered therein; the table was set with the special bread (lechem hapanim). The calling was done by Moshe, as it says in our first pasuk: "It was on the eighth day, Moshe called to Aharon and his sons and the elders of Israel."

The Sefat Emet connected the midrashim in a marvelous, homiletic manner. The purpose of wisdom and things that are built with wisdom is to allow man to merit Divine Assistance. Everything that was created at genesis was a preparation for man, who receives a special blessing on Shabbat, the "extra soul" of Shabbat. So too, regarding the Mishkan, the goal was the eighth day, which followed the preparatory stage. As creation was finishing, man was asked to call names to the animals (Bereishit 2:20). The Sefat Emet explains that the idea of naming was to connect everything to its roots. Moshe likewise called out on the eighth day.

The Sefat Emet continues that calling was involved in many critical elements of the world. The Beit Hamikdash is referred to as the house that My Name is called upon it (Yirmiya 7:10). In reference to time, the holidays are called mikra’ei kodesh (times that are called for holiness). Bnei Yisrael are called in a manner that connects us to the Divine: "The nations of the land will see that Hashem’s Name is called upon you" (Devarim 28:10).

A brit milah is performed on the eighth day, as it is related to the extra soul which the baby has experienced on the preceding Shabbat. The brit confirms that he is slated for a special soul in the world to come. The eighth day is a sign of a loving connection between Hashem and His children. The calling is reminiscent of the angels who call one to another as they sanctify Hashem’s Name (Yeshaya 6:3).

May we merit returning to the call of the eighths with the building of the Beit Hamikdash and the fixing of creation.

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