This week’s Torah reading describes the dedication of the Sanctuary in the desert. To complement that narrative, the Haftorah describes how the Ark was brought to Jerusalem by King David in preparation for the construction of the Temple.

Accompanying the ark, King David was overcome by joy: G‑d’s presence would dwell in the city he had built. As a consequence, “King David was dancing wildly and cavorting before G‑d.”

His wife, Michal the daughter of King Saul, looked out from the window and was horrified at her husband’s conduct. When he came home, she reproached him: “How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today… as one of the low fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”

David replied to her harshly: “In the presence of G‑d Who chose me over your father… I will hold myself even more lightly esteemed than this.”

Why does Scripture refer to Michal as the daughter of King Saul and why does David mention G‑d’s choice of him over Saul? Because that is the core of the issue. David was telling Michal bluntly that his ability to let go, to give himself over to G‑d without any restraint was the reason why G‑d had chosen him and not Saul. Saul had followed his logic. Of course, Saul had been committed to G‑d’s will — but only according to the extent of his understanding. He couldn’t go totally beyond himself. While for David, the ability to do so was the foundation of his relationship with G‑d. He knew no constraints; he devoted himself to G‑d entirely.

This lead to his boundless happiness. He was not dancing because of personal joy; his rejoicing did not come as a result of the realization of what a great thing he had accomplished. In fact, he was not thinking at all. He was in the presence of G‑d and was celebrating without any limits. For just as G‑d is unbounded and undefined, so too, man’s service of Him must know no restrictions. He was far beyond calculating what constituted “respectful and proper behavior.” His “I” was eclipsed entirely — he was at one with Divinity — before Whom there is no possibility for a mortal to consider himself great.

Maimonides says it most succinctly: “Whoever holds himself proud, seeking his own honor… in such situations is a sinner and a fool. Concerning this, Solomon warned: ‘Do not seek glory before the King.’ [In contrast,] anyone who lowers himself and thinks lightly of his person… is truly a great person, worthy of honor.”

When one rejoices in such a manner, then — again to quote Maimonides: “The happiness with which a person should rejoice in the fulfillment of the mitzvos and the love of G‑d Who commanded them is truly a great service.”

Looking to the Horizon

The Torah emphasizes that the dedication of the Sanctuary took place on the eighth day. Why the eighth? Because the natural order of the world is structured according to a pattern of seven, as indicated by the seven days of the week. Eight represents the transcendence of nature. Therefore, the Sanctuary where G‑d’s presence — a revelation of G‑dliness far above nature — was manifest was dedicated on the eighth day.

Eight is the sum of seven and one. One signifies G‑d’s transcendence, but as He exist alone, above this world. Eight reflects how the one permeates the seven. Unlike one, it does not refer to pure transcendence that leaves no place for the natural. Instead, it points to a fusion of the transcendent and the natural, how His transcendence will pervade and permeate the natural order symbolized by seven.

For this reason, our Sages associate the number eight with the realm of Mashiach, stating that the harp to be played in the Temple in that era will have eight strands (rather than the seven-stringed harp played in previous generations), for the new awareness that will dawn in the era of Mashiach will erase the dichotomy between the physical and the spiritual. In that time, our spiritual awareness will permeate our physical activities, endowing them with inner depth and meaning.