Vayehi bayom hashemini-On the eighth day... Moses said... this day G‑d shall appear to you.”

-Shemini 9:1-4

This verse relates to the consecration of the Sanctuary in the desert, which resulted in a manifestation of G‑dliness: the Shechinah “dwelled” in the Sanctuary. This happened on the first day of Nissan, which is referred to as the “eighth day” because it followed the “seven days of induction” of consecrating the priests, offering various sacrifices and setting up and dismantling the Sanctuary. The fact that the Torah refers to this special occasion as the “eighth day” is obviously of significance.

The number “seven” signifies the normative order of the world. For example, time is reckoned in terms of seven-day cycles which constitute a complete week. Likewise with years, the number seven indicates a complete cycle, culminating in the Sabbatical year, and so forth. Seven, therefore, is the symbol for the order of nature. The number “eight” is beyond “seven,” alluding to the supra-natural, an emanation of G‑dliness which, like a miracle, transcends the normative order.

Nonetheless, this aspect of “eight” is not fully detached from worldliness: the “eight” comes about only when seven precede it. Thus, notwithstanding the fact that the human capacity is limited to the norms of created entities (the aspect of “seven”), serving G‑d to the limits of these capacities will elicit a manifestation of Divine emanations beyond the normative (the aspect of “eight”). It was, therefore, Israel’s preparations during the “seven days of induction” that prepared the world, and made it possible, for the Shechinah to dwell in the Sanctuary.

It is likewise with the galut and the Messianic era. The Messianic era is related to the number “eight,” as it is said, “The harp of the Sanctuary had seven cords... the harp of the Messianic days has eight cords” (Arachin 13b). Our service of G‑d in these constraining days of the galut is like the seven days of preparation that prepare the world for the “eighth day” of the Messianic era.