The book of Leviticus is a direct continuation of the book Exodus, its first half is the story of Exodus – the breaking out of slavery into freedom, Mt. Sinai revelation, The Sin of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the two tablets; and its second half tells the story of the building of the Mishkan.
The Parasha of Shemini opens with the words: “On the eighth (Shemini) day…” – and the commentators ask what happened on the eighth day that our Parasha is named after? And what happened on the seven days before?
The Mishkan was built of wood, silver, gold, copper and fabrics that were contributed by the people. After the different parts have been completed, the people joined together to assemble the parts into a whole Mishkan (the Mishkan was a portable Temple that the Israelites carried during the years they wondered in the desert). However, when they tried to put the Mishkan parts together – the parts didn’t fit. They tried over and over for seven days, and failed each time to assemble the Mishkan. However, instead of complaining, getting upset or being frustrated, they didn’t stop to believe that they are going to succeed in their mission. On the eighth day they finally succeeded – all the parts fit together and the Mishkan has been erected.
Our Parasha teaches us, what was already said in Proverbs (24:16): “… for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes”. The wisdom Kabbalah teaches that the upper worlds have been created in a state of perfection and we chose to come to an imperfect dark world full of pain and lack in order to fulfill our need to discover the power of the Creator within us. This is why we like so much challenge since there is no bigger satisfaction than the moment we manage to create light out of darkness and sweetness out of bitterness. In order to achieve this lofty goal we need our fellowman.
Life, as the building of the Mishkan, is considered to be a constant work of assembling the different pieces together in order to feel “success”. We need to find the right parts and the right partners in order to succeed. When the flame of faith and knowledge burns within, by knowing that everything we need is already there, awaiting for us, and all the “parts” are nearby, so we believe that every day was created perfectly, this is when we can experience growth.
The main thing we need to remember is never to give up, and if things do not go the way we want them to, then this is the place for us to observe, draw conclusions and create an inner change that will bring the solution in anexpected way. We need to discover new strength within us, to find a clean place of simple faith and optimism, a place that is liberated from thoughts of frustration, guilt or anger for failing before. Only after releasing from this emotional mood we are available for receiving a new upgraded truth.
The Israelites have tried for seven days to build the Mishkan without giving up. All of that while having total faith in the Creation and in their ability to succeed. The message is that every time we fail we receive a second chance to re-create ourselves.
Passover is usually celebrated when Shemini is being read. The Ari explains that the Israelites were a people of slaves and that “slavery” is a way of thinking. It is an attitude, mentality, which we need to deal with in order to be free, to have an awareness that allow us to be Creators.
On The Night of the Seder it seems like we are dealing with our children – telling the story of Exodus – while actually we are the children. We deal with ourselves in order to break out of slavery into freedom, and now it is the time to overcome the immature side of our personality so we can develop into a mature, free adult.