Lucky Number Eight
Life on the Planet Eight
Have you ever sensed that there is more to life than you can touch or feel or smell? That there is a dimension to reality that cannot be experienced by any of your senses but that you know to be as real as the feeling you have when holding the hand of someone you love? Are you convinced that you have a soul, a nonphysical core to your being that will never be detected by an x-ray, MRI or any other type of technology? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the number eight is for you.
The world was created in seven days and therefore, in Jewish thought, the number seven represents the natural, physical world, the world that we can touch and smell and feel. The number eight, on the other hand, represents that which transcends the natural world, that which emanates from beyond the limits of our senses but that we can reach out and touch—and be touched and stirred by.
Seven is the world we live in. Eight is the world that fills the lives we lead with depth, meaning and spirituality—and that is our great challenge: To infuse the common place, natural, physical, pedestrian activities of life with the refined spices of kindness, integrity, spirituality and the pursuit of meaning.
The Sexuality of Eight
On day number eight after birth, Jewish boys have a circumcision. With circumcision, the dimension of eight is forever infused into Jewish sexual consciousness. What could be more natural, more physical, more here-and-now than sex? The presence of eight in sexuality says that the very act that appears to be so rooted in physical gratification and the propagation of every species in the animal kingdom, in fact contains the potential for uniquely human transcendence. That which appears to be so physical can actually be elevated to the realm of the profoundly spiritual, if one only knows how to unlock that hidden potential.
Score: Jews 8, Greeks 7
Twenty-two hundred years ago, the Greeks, who then ruled in Israel, outlawed circumcision. What they objected to was its “eightness.” The Greeks were a brilliant civilization, but one rooted in the world of seven. To them the world of transcendence was anathema. Hanukkah, the holiday that celebrates the Jewish revolt against the Greeks, is celebrated for eight days. Life is an ongoing opportunity to join the transcendent with the worldly, the profound with the mundane, the spiritual with the physical: The world of seven with the reality of eight.
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