Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVII, p. 92ff.

I. As mentioned several times, the division of the weekly Torah readings, the 53 parshiyos of the Torah,1 [is significant]. Although every parshah contains several passages, and every passage is a self-contained entity, the fact that all of these passages are found in the same Torah reading indicates that they share a common factor.

Since the content of every entity is expressed and identified through “the name which [the entity is called in lashon hakodesh,2 “the Holy Tongue,” it follows that the fundamental point {which permeates all the concepts in the Torah reading} is alluded to by the name of the Torah reading. (For the names of the Torah reading are determined by the Torah.)3

The particular content of every individual passage [is unique]. [Indeed, it is possible that] the difference between the content of the first passage and the last passage of one parshah is greater than the difference between the first passage of one parshah and the last passage of the previous one. For there are several passages interrupting between them and the passages that follow each other [often focus on related concepts]. (As a result, one of the principles of exegesis involves deriving lessons from the conceptual sequence of subjects in the Torah.4

[That passage explains that there are opinions which maintain that this concept applies only in the Book of Devarim, for Devarim — unlike the preceding books — was recited by Moshe “on his own initiative” and hence, respects the dictates of mortal wisdom. With regard to the other books, however, because the order of the Torah is not necessarily sequential
(vru,c rjutnu oseun iht), this concept does not apply. The majority opinion, however, uses sequence as a source for exegesis with regard to the entire Torah.]) Nevertheless, there is a common factor shared by passages in the same parshah (even when they are not next to each other) [which is greater than passages from different parshiyos which share a sequential connection].5

II. From the above, we can appreciate [that similar concepts apply] with regard to our Torah reading. On one hand, the beginning of the Torah reading, “And it took place on the eighth day...” shares a greater connection to the parshah that precedes it than to the conclusion of the Torah reading: “This is the animal....”6

This is clearly understood. [The description of the events of] “the eighth day” [with which our Torah reading begins] follows in sequence to the description of the seven days of dedication (miluim) mentioned at the conclusion of the previous parshah. “This is the animal...,” by contrast, on the surface, shares no connection [with those events].

Nevertheless, since every Torah reading has a fundamental point which distinguishes it from other readings, it is clear that the passages, “And it took place on the eighth day...,” and “This is the animal...,” share a fundamental message which is not shared by the passage:7 “Take Aharon...,” [that concludes the previous reading which begins the narrative of the Sanctuary’s dedication]. This fundamental point is expressed through the name of the parshah, Shemini, which means “the eighth.”

III. The name of the parshah, [Shemini,] does not indicate that the subject is the eighth day of the dedication [of the Sanctuary]. Indeed, it does not even mention the word “day” at all. For the parshah is not called BaYom HaShemini,8 but rather Shemini. This demonstrates that the theme is the general concept of “the eighth” and not a particular concept (that relates to the dedication of the Sanctuary or even to the concept of “days”).

Based on the concepts explained above (in sec. II) with regard to the difference between the connection to the conclusion of the previous parshah and the connection to the ideas in this parshah itself, it follows that the passage: “Take Aharon” is only a preparation for Shemini, but is not a part of Shemini. {Just as in actual fact, the seven days of dedication were only a preparation for the eighth day.} In contrast, “This is the animal” is a part of Shemini itself.

IV. The above can be understood through the preface of the general concept of Shemini. [Shemini] involves the fusion of two opposites. On one side, the number eight reflects a quality that transcends the seven which precedes it. As the Kli Yakar explains,9 all the components of the creation are structured in a set of seven, while the number eight is [above the natural order,] “unique for Him alone.”

As explained in other sources,10 the number seven does not include only elements of the creation, but also the Divine light enclothed within the creation.11 The number eight, by contrast, refers to the Divine light which is too high to be enclothed in the world, and which transcends the entire Seder HaHishtalshelus (spiritual cosmos).12

Nevertheless, the word “eighth” indicates that the reference is not to an entity that exists in its own realm, but rather to an entity which shares a connection (and comes as a continuation) to the set of “seven” [which precedes it].

This reflects the uniqueness of the concept of eight, for it alludes to a consummate revelation of G‑dliness. The ultimate intent is that even the light which transcends the spiritual cosmos should be drawn down (in a revealed manner) within the context of the world. This is alluded to by the word “eighth” — even [the light] which is set aside and above the creation ([transcending] the attribute of seven, as cited above from the Kli Yakar) should be the “eighth,” relating to ([the set of] seven,) the matters of creation.

V. On this basis, we can also explain13 why “the harp of the era of Mashiach,” will contain eight strands.14 The new spiritual state that will characterize the era of Mashiach is described by the verse:15 “And the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh shall see together....” Although the glory of G‑d is incomparably higher than the creation,16 it will be revealed in a manner that will enable “all flesh [to] see,” i.e., actual sight with our material eyes.17 [Moreover,] in that era, the revelation of G‑d’s glory will (not be perceived as something new [and extraordinary,] but rather as part of the ordinary makeup of our material world.18

The perception of the glory of G‑d with our material eyes will be the natural tendency of our bodies [at that time]. This will represent the true appreciation of G‑dliness as the simple, ordinary fact of our existence.

[It is possible for] physical flesh to see the glory of G‑d, because the glory of G‑d is unlimited, and therefore can descend until the lowest level, even to the extent that it can be perceived by physical flesh.19 [Nevertheless, since that perception does not stem from the natural tendency of flesh,] the revelation of G‑dliness in the world (although perceived by physical sight20

Nevertheless, [since these revelations ran contrary to the ordinary state of the Jewish people, in an ultimate sense, they cannot be considered as reflecting peshitus. Instead,] the ultimate concept of biderech peshitus is when [the natural state of] physical flesh will be able to appreciate the revelation. At the splitting of the Sea and the Beis HaMikdash, by contrast,] the revelation came about because of the revelation of Or Ein Sof. Therefore, the true concept of the revelation of G‑dliness in a manner of peshitus will be in the era of Mashiach. As the series of maamarim entitled BeShaah SheHikdimu, 5672, p. 936, states: “There will be an even greater [revelation] in the Future....” See also ibid., Vol. III, p. 1263ff.), represents a new development. It is an increment, beyond the world’s ordinary state, for the perception of “the glory of G‑d” by flesh is not natural.21

The true conception of [perceiving G‑dliness] as part of the ordinary makeup of existence is that physical flesh sees the glory of G‑d as an expression of its own natural tendency.22

Although the revelation of prophecy is manifest [in a manner resembling] sight, [at present, it is not considered a natural phenomenon. For] there are several prerequisites required, as the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 7:1) states: “Prophecy is bestowed only [upon a wise sage of strong character, who....]” And even when those prerequisites are met, a prophet cannot prophesy whenever he desires. Instead, he must focus his attention (see ibid.:4). And even when he focuses his attention, “it is possible that the Divine Presence will rest upon [the prophet] and it is possible that it will not” (ibid.:5). And even when prophecy is revealed, [a prophet] must prepare [his physical person], as (I Shmuel 19:24) states: “He also removed his clothes,” and Yechezkel 3:24 states: “And I saw ... and I fell on my face,” [— this is not an exact citation of the verse —] as explained in the series of maamarim entitled BeShaah SheHikdimu, 5672, op. cit. This indicates that not only was prophecy not bipishitus according to the nature of our material world, but that “Nature could not accept this and therefore a person had to remove his material consciousness, and negate his perception” (ibid.). [Thus prophecy was] a new and incremental development, [while in the Future, it will be natural]. Just as our eyes see material entities, and this is their natural functioning and tendency, [so too, in the era of Mashiach, they will perceive G‑dliness].23

This reflects the connection of the era of Mashiach with the number eight. The revelation of the glory of G‑d (which will occur in the era of Mashiach) will express the two extremes that are characteristic of the number eight:

a) The glory of G‑d is above and [indeed,] set aside from the creation as a whole, which is structured according to a set of seven; nevertheless,

b) [His glory] will be revealed in a manner [that will permeate the natural order]. The perception [of G‑dliness] will result from the nature of the world itself; the “eighth” will come together with the seven.

VI. There is, however, a point that must be resolved. The fact that G‑dliness {— even those levels of G‑dliness which are on the level of the creation —} is not apparent within the world is (not an incremental aspect beyond the [natu­ral] state of the world, but rather) reflects the manner in which the world was created. Concealment and hiddenness reflect the essential makeup24

* In the above expression, the Tanya uses the term nivra, rather than naaseh, implying that, at the outset, our world was brought into being as a material entity. [Its material dimension is not an incremental element of its existence.] {By contrast, our Sages (Menachos 29b) state [merely] that this world was created with a hay [without mentioning its material nature].} of the world. [Indeed, this is the very source of the term okug, Hebrew for “world,” whose root is shared by the term okgv, meaning “concealment.”25 And the name of an entity reveals its fundamental intent. How then is it possible that the revelation of the Future, when “all flesh will see,” will come from the [physical] flesh itself? This is the opposite of the nature of (flesh and of) the world.

VII. [To explain: The transformation of the nature of the world and physical flesh so that they can appreciate G‑dliness as a natural phenomenon is dependent on our Divine service. More particularly,] as the Alter Rebbe states:26 “The revelation of Or Ein Sof in this material world {which will take place in the era of Mashiach (and the era of the Resurrection)} is dependent on our deeds and Divine service throughout the duration of the exile.”

On the surface, the question arises: Why is there an emphasis on “throughout the duration of the exile”? The reason why our “deeds and Divine service” bring about “the revelation of Or Ein Sof in this material world” is because of the unique quality of mitzvos. {As [the Alter Rebbe] emphasizes in this source itself: “Through the performance of [a mitzvah] a person draws down the revelation of Or Ein Sof from Above to enclothe itself in the material substance of this world.} Why is this dependent on [these mitzvos] being performed “throughout the duration of the exile”?

One of the possible explanations of this concept is: (As mentioned in sec. V,) [the intent is that] the revelations of G‑dliness in the era of Mashiach and the era of the Resurrection be felt within the nature of the world itself. The influence of G‑dliness drawn down through the mitzvos (which will be revealed in the era of Mashiach) should not be an incremental element of the world’s existence. {[For this would mean that] through the mitzvos, G‑dliness would be drawn down into the world, but the world itself would remain in the gestalt in which it was created, a state of concealment as implied by the name okug.} Instead, the intent is that the mitzvos should transform the nature of our material world.

Therefore, the revelations of the era of Mashiach are “dependent on our deeds and Divine service throughout the duration of the exile.” For the potential for mitzvos {to transform the nature of the world itself} is expressed (primarily) through those mitzvos which are performed in the time of exile.

VIII. The more general reason why the performance of mitzvos draws down [G‑dly] influence which transforms the nature of the world [can be explained as follows]: The ultimate purpose for the creation of the world is “for the sake of the Torah and for the sake of the Jewish people,”27 i.e., that through their observance of the Torah and its mitzvos, the Jewish people will bring about the revelation of G‑dliness within the world. [This explains why] the revelation of G‑dliness that the Jews draw into the world through the Torah is not an incremental element of the world’s existence. Since this revelation of G‑dliness is the purpose and the intent of the world, the intent is that (the inner dimension of) the world itself seeks to have that purpose accomplished, and [desires as it were] that G‑dliness be revealed through the Torah and the mitzvos observed by the Jewish people.

This, however, is not sufficient. Since the gestalt of the world (okug) is characterized by concealment (okgv), [the nature of] creation is that the purpose which it must accomplish is not felt within it. On the contrary, its natural state is concealment. Thus within the context of the world itself, the G‑dliness drawn down through the performance of mitzvos [appears to be] an incremental factor. [Were this the case, His dwelling would not be within the context of the world itself].

This difficulty is clarified by the concept that the revelations of the Future are dependent (primarily) on “our deeds and Divine service throughout the duration of the exile” as will be explained.

IX. In several sources in Chassidus,28 it is explained that the power of mesirus nefesh is revealed more powerfully during the era of exile than during the time of the Beis HaMikdash. For the concealment and hiddenness (which [characterizes] the era of exile) call forth the revelation of the power of mesirus nefesh.

Concealment and revelation are opposites. How is it possible that concealment calls forth this revelation?

On the surface, [there is a ready answer to this question. The interrelation of concealment and revelation] is a natural phenomenon that is reflected in a physical analogy. Our power of will has greater control over the heels of our feet than over our heads. But this itself warrants explanation: Why did G‑d structure the nature of the creation in this manner?29

Chassidus explains, however, that this is not only a sign of our low spiritual level, but also an indication of the awesome potential vested within us. The very fact that we can have such a feeling indicates that there is a connection between our world and G‑d’s essence. Similarly, with regard to mesirus nefesh, it is not only that these generations lack the intellectual sophistication which might hinder the expression of mesirus nefesh, but they possess a connection to the essence of the soul, the source for mesirus nefesh, which allows this quality to be expressed.]

The concept can be explained as follows: The intent is that the world itself, within the context of its own natural framework of reference, will become a dwelling for G‑d.30 To facilitate the execution of this intent, G‑d created the world in a manner in which it would reflect its ultimate purpose. His intent in creating the world with a gestalt of hiddeness and concealment is so that this would lead to a higher light, that “the superior light should come from the darkness.”31 Therefore, the world was structured in a manner in which concealment will call forth (and become a medium for) a higher light.32

On the surface, the expression “And this is the purpose for which it was created” is unnecessary. Its purpose, however, is to explain how the revelations of the era of Mashiach and the era of the Resurrection will [permeate] the gestalt of this material world. [Since these revelations are the ultimate intent of the world’s creation, there is the potential for them to permeate the world’s natural framework, even though this appears to run contrary to the world’s natural tendency.]

Thus [the nature of] the world itself {— [even] as the world’s (okug) existence is characterized by concealment (okgv), before the intent is revealed within it —} reveals the intent of that concealment. [There is a physical analogy that shows] that the concealment within the world exists for the purpose of drawing down additional and superior light (through the observance of the mitzvos). Therefore, the revelation of G‑dliness within the world is connected with the existence of the world itself.

This is the explanation why the revelations of the Future are “dependent on our deeds and Divine service throughout the duration of the exile.” For the mesirus nefesh33 in the era of the exile reveals within the context of the concealment [of G‑dliness that prevails] within the world that the purpose (of that concealment) is the revelation of G‑dliness drawn down through the Torah and its mitzvos.34

This is also the reason35

The concepts explained within the sichah, by contrast, show how the concealment which prevails within the world relates (also) to the revelation of G‑d’s essence. For the concealment (of the era of exile) arouses the revelation of the power of mesirus nefesh (that stems from the essence of the soul which is at one with the essence of G‑d). why the G‑dly influence drawn down during the time of exile has (a more powerful) effect and enclothes itself (more) within the context of the physical world.36 This [effect] will be overtly manifest in the Future, when “the glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see,” and that revelation will be appreciated according to the natural tendency of physical flesh.

X. Based on the above, we can also appreciate the difference between the connection between Parshas Shemini and the conclusion of Parshas Tzav which precedes it, and its own conclusion, the passage beginning “This is the animal....” As mentioned in the conclusion of Parshas Tzav, during the seven days of dedication, Aharon and his sons performed all the Divine service possible with mortal powers. And their [efforts], an arousal from below, evoked and drew down G‑dly influence. All of this is included in the set of seven, [G‑dliness as it relates to the natural order].37

This is merely a preparation38 for the revelation of “the glory of G‑d,” the indwelling of the Divine Presence in the Sanctuary which took place on the eighth day of the dedication. [For that revelation] was characterized by the motif of eight, i.e., the aspect of G‑dliness which transcends the creation entirely would also be connected with the set of creation that conforms to the structure of seven.39

** Note the series of maamarim entitled BeShaah SheHikdimu, 5672, Vol. III, p. 1281ff., which makes a distinction between the motif in which a keli (a vessel) draws down Divine light and revelation which reflects the pattern of the Divine service of the Torah and its mitzvos in general, and the motif in which the keli itself becomes light and revelation which is expressed through mesirus nefesh.

The passage “This is the animal” which speaks about the non-kosher beasts and animals, the prohibition against partaking of them, and the ritual impurity which results from contact with their carcasses, by contrast, is a part of Parshas Shemini itself.40 The refinement of the world (which is [characterized by] concealment) expresses in a consummate manner that its intent is for the revelation of G‑dliness, [including] the G‑dly light which transcends the world entirely. The refinement [of the world] is brought about through the existence of a gestalt that allows for the possibility of [a substantial concealment], non-kosher beasts and animals. And yet, “a distinction [is made] between the impure and the pure, between a beast that may be eaten and a beast that may not.”41 {This resembles [the approach implied by] our Sages’ comment:42 “A person should not say, ‘I cannot bear pork.’ Instead, he should say, ‘I can bear it, but what can I do? My Father in heaven decreed that I should not.”} This brings about refinement even within the non-kosher beasts and animals. As the Midrash43 comments on the verse: “This is the animal”: “The mitzvos were given solely with the intent of refining the world.”44

[Through this Divine service,] the [ultimate] purpose and intent, the revelation of G‑dliness — which is the essential will of the Jewish people (“My Father in heaven decreed”)45 becomes manifest within the world.46

[This distinction] reflects the distinction brought about by the tzimtzum which generates the potential to transform the concealment of the tzimtzum into light. See the conclusion of the series of maamarim entitled BeShaah SheHikdimu, 5672, [Vol. II,] pp. 942-943, and Or HaTorah, loc. cit, p. 60.

This brings about the revelation of “the eighth.”47 G‑dliness which transcends the world entirely is revealed within [the context of] seven, [the natural order of worldly existence]. This makes “eight,” [for the transcendent light] is revealed and becomes one with the creation itself as explained above at length.48

Based on the above, we can also understand the interpretation the Midrash offers49 with regard to [the passage concerning] the non-kosher animals: “Moshe saw the activities of the gentile kingdoms.” The Midrash explains at length the darkness and concealment brought about by every exile. For the new dimension and revelation brought about by “This is the animal...” is the same as that brought about by the exiles. This Divine influence will be revealed in the Future, [the era of Mashiach’s harp,] the harp of eight strands.

Then [we will merit the prophecy stated] at the conclusion of this Midrash:

“The pig,” this refers to Edom (Rome). Why is it called the pig (rhzj)? Because it will return (,rzjn) the crown to its [rightful] owner, as it is written:50 “And deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mountain of Esav, and the sovereignty will be G‑d’s.”

(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Shemini, 5731, 5736;
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Acharei and the maamar of Acharon Shel Pesach, 5725)