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    8 strings on the harp – Sh’mini

    The eighth day of the consecration ceremonies of the sanctuary was dedicated to the induction of the kohanim.

    Logic tells us that the number eight was chosen for this purpose because the previous seven formed the first week in the history of the tabernacle.

    Yet the eighth day was not the mere mathematical continuation of the seven that preceded it. In a sense the seven belonged to the earth and the eighth to the Almighty.

    It took seven days for the earthly worship focus to become a reality, but that could not be the end of the story. Merely having a building for worship was not an end in itself. Once there was a physical sanctuary, the spiritual era could begin.

    Where do the kohanim fit in? Surely they are physical and not ethereal beings!

    Their role is not merely to perform the rituals of the tabernacle but to train the people to yearn for God and little by little to reach up to Him.

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe quotes in his commentary on this sidra what the K’li Yakar points out, that whilst the harp in the sanctuary orchestra had seven strings, the harp of messianic times will have eight strings (Kohelet Rabba 11:8).

    The number eight denotes the commencement of a new era. That’s why when a community erects a synagogue there are two stages – physical, the creation of the edifice of bricks and mortar, and the spiritual, the utilisation of the building for the spiritual ascent of the worshippers who use it.

    If a congregation think their task is done once they have a fine synagogue, the sidra warns them that that’s only the first stage.

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