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.

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.

Posted in:
by   Shimon Apisdorf

Comments icon YOUR THOUGHTS? [5]
Comments icon May 8, 2009

YOUR THOUGHTS

By Doesn´t matter on May 8, 2009 -- 6:01pm

BS"D

Superb

By Josh V. on May 15, 2009 -- 8:23am

Ok, so 8 is the spiritual world, 7 is the physical..  Then what is 6?

I know we as jews have lots of symbolism for 8’s and 7’s, with many connections on a variety of levels within Judaism and torah.

Goyim however take 6 as a very influential number.. I am curious what level it pertain to.


Great website. Keep up the good work.

I especially enjoy the downloadable lectures you provide!

Thanks.

By Shimon Apisdorf on May 18, 2009 -- 11:06pm

Josh,

First. I prefer we refrain from using the term goyim. it is a term that can be offensive and there is nothing gained by the usage.

Now, your question about the number 6. following are a couple tip-of-the-iceberg thoughts:

1) 6 is related to the 6 days of the week. the physical world. 7 = spirituality in the context of physicality. 7 is shabbat; God becoming particularly manifest in the physical world. (the spirituality of 8 is above and beyond this world.)

2) 6 is the six directional points that form the basis for the existence of space and thus the existence of matter and all physicality. These 6 directions are north-south, east-west, up-down. the three pairs become length, width and height that are the three dimensions required for space-matter existence. however, they are just the external housing. 7= the inner dimension, the spiritual Godliness that dwells within and that gives life, spirit and meaning to the outer housing. 6, in a sense, is the physical body. 7, is the soul that elevates, vivifies and illuminates the body.

3) 6 also serves as a bridge that connects the dimension of the physical with the world of the spiritual. the 6th day of the week is friday, and in jewish life friday has a dual identity. On the one hand, it is part of the 6 days of the week. at the same time, shabbat, the 7th day, begins on friday. so friday bridges the two worlds. with this in mind, it’s interesting that the 6th letter in the hebrew alphabet is “vav” and a vav is a “hook.” the purpose of a hook is to connect two things. the letter “vav”, as a prefix,  means “and” in hebrew. the purpose of the word “and” in to connect two things. i.e. this “and” that etc.

By Dieter Rapp Junior on July 2, 2009 -- 12:45pm

I Like 7 Too

By Steve Lieblich on July 11, 2009 -- 11:07am

I have extracted the following paragraphs from notes I wrote on the occasions of the seventh and eight yahrzeits of my father Yisrael ben Zvy z"l.

ON THE SEVENTH YAHRZEIT (2006)
...We count seven days to Shabbat ; seven weeks from commemoration of the going out of Egypt to that of the giving of the Torah ; seven years to the Shmitta year, when land lies fallow and debts are extinguished. At each of these shevi’i milestones, we forsake the physical and material, and we rely more heavily on the spiritual. We teach ourselves to be unselfish and remember the greater good.

Reb Loewy of Prague in Tiferet Yisrael, chapter forty describes the significance of the number seven. He points out that physical reality as we know it is defined by the number six. It’s the number of physical directions that we wave the four species : front-right-back-left-up-down. On Hoshana Raba , the seventh day of Succoth we focus on the seventh dimension, the centre-point, and the point of repose, the holy, and the spiritual.

ON THE EIGHTH YAHRZEIT (2007)
...Shemini Atzeret [the Eighth Day of Assembly]. At the time of the Temple the nation gathered in Jerusalem for Sukkot. Afterwards the nation will not gather again in Jerusalem until Pesach. Shemini Atzeret adds to Sukkot and delays the dispersal briefly. We linger in the sukkah, reluctant to part. We express the same feeling by reciting Yizkor that day. We are reluctant to part with our loved ones…

The eighth day of Pesach is also a shemini milestone. On the seventh day of Pesach the Red Sea split… a miracle so great that the entire Jewish people declared ze Eli (“This is my G-d”). So why do we say that the eighth day of Pesach surpasses the seventh? In Parshat Beshelach it is written that “… Israel saw the mighty hand which the Hashem had wielded against the Egyptians, and the people revered the Hashem , and believed in the Hashem,” why is “believed” used? If we actually “saw” the miracle why did we have to also “believe”? But even a miracle doesn’t fully express Hashem’s essence: the promise of a better world to come. We saw the miracle, and we also believed in a better future. This is also why on that day we read a Haphtorah with prophecies of when “a wolf will dwell with a lamb” and “a small child will lead them”. So the eighth day of Pesach is at a higher level than the seventh.

Yet another shemini milestone is Parshat Shemini , which is read on the Shabbat immediately after Pesach. Here shemini refers to the eighth day of the consecration of the altar in the temple. During the seven preceding days Moses ministered in the consecration, but on the seventh day Hashem told Moses that his brother Aaron would take over. He was to be the Cohen Hagadol (High Priest). The words ki hayom Hashem nira uleikhem (“for to-day the Lord appears to you”) indicate that despite all the sacrifices and efforts of the inaugural seven days, Hashem’s presence was felt only when Aaron put on the robes of Cohen Hagadol, on the eighth day. The inaugural seven days of consecration refer to the ultimate of human efforts. However, the eighth day refers to a level that transcends human efforts…a greater potential. And “all the people saw and gave praise and fell on their faces.”

And so shevi’i (seven) refers to the complete natural order. (Seven days in a week, seven years to the Shmitta year.) Shemini (eight) refers to a level that transcends the natural order: is not bound by finite constraints. It hints at the better world to come, the ultimate achievement of tikkun Olam . This is why the Mashiach is also called the 8th of the princes of men; and why the Temple kinor (violin) had 7 strings, but the kinor in the days of Mashiach will have 8 strings.

Leave a comment

Name:

Email: (required, but not published)

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below: