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    The eighth day – Emor

    number 8 eightCertain numbers are associated with certain occasions.

    The numerical leitmotif of Pesach is 4. Though often unacknowledged, the number 3 is important on Shavu’ot.

    The Talmud says (Shab. 88a), “Blessed be the Merciful One who gave the 3-fold Law, consisting of the Torah, Prophets and Writings, to a 3-fold people, Cohen, Levi and Yisra’el, through Moses, the 3rd child of his parents, in the 3rd month, Sivan”… and there is even a hint of 3 in the Shavu’ot cuisine, since cheese kreplach are 3-cornered.

    Daily God is acclaimed in the K’dushah as “Holy, Holy, Holy”, and on many occasions during the year, sections of the liturgy are recited 3 times; Kol Nidre is an example.

    The Seder song, Echad Mi Yodei’a, lists items from 1 (God) to 13 (the Divine Attributes). Shabbat is the 7th day; 7 weeks comprise the Omer period, 7 years the Sh’mitah unit, and 7 times 7 the Jubilee.

    The reading this week reminds us that 8 is also a significant number: “When a calf, lamb or kid is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother; from the 8th day it shall be acceptable as an offering by fire to the Lord” (Lev. 22:27; compare Ex. 22:29).

    Only when it has completed the first 7 days can the animal gain a new status. Maimonides says that until then it is as if the animal lacks vitality (maybe he means viability) and only after a week “can it be counted among those that enjoy the light of the world”.

    There is an analogy with the human infant: after completing its first week of life, the baby boy is circumcised on the 8th day. On the 8th day a new chapter begins; it is as if the new-born belongs exclusively to its parents for the first week, and thereafter a ceremony marks his entry into the wider world of the community.

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