Topic: Holidays & Time Zones | Posted:April 8, 2015
The portion Shmini begins: “And it came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel…” Once the physical structure of the Tabernacle had been erected, Moses worked inside it for an additional eight days on his own, before he called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel to participate.
We know that nothing mentioned in the Torah is coincidental or simple; therefore, why is it eight days? What is the power and level of consciousness referred to as the “eighth day?”
The Chesed Le Avraham, written by kabbalist Rav Avraham Azulai, says, “When the world was created there was also a creation of 50 Gates of Purity and elevation, which are controlled by the Angel Michael and all of the angels that support him. So, too, were 50 Gates of Impurity also created, which are controlled by the most negative of angels.”
Kabbalists teach that there is always a balance between positive and negative, good and evil, Light and darkness in the world. As such, there are two pathways our souls travel in life; they either embark on the path of elevating through the 50 Gates of Purity, or choose to descend through the 50 Gates of Impurity, or Darkness.
The Arvei Nachal explains that unless we have experienced an eight-day cycle of complete transformation, we cannot elevate and go through any of the gates above the one we are currently in. Assuming a person begins his spiritual process somewhere between the 50 Gates of Purity and the 50 Gates of Impurity, when he connects, grows and transforms spiritually for eight days straight, he will have completed the process necessary to elevate into the gate above the one he is currently in. So, if each gate takes eight consecutive days of spiritual work, then the work necessary to reach either the highest or the lowest 50th Gate will be a total of 400 days, because eight times fifty equals four hundred.
Therefore, if a person is able to be on track spiritually and have a total connection with the Light of the Creator for 400 days in a row, then at the end of the 400th day, he will have completed the process of elevating to the 50th Gate of Purity. For our souls to complete their spiritual process, we have to elevate and go through the 50 Gates of Purity. Conversely, if a person does not develop, grow, or transform, he will descend through the 50 Gates of Impurity.
We know that when something occurs for the first time in the Torah, it becomes the source of that particular Light and energy in the world. The story of Pesach is no exception. The Zohar and the Ari both teach us that before the Israelites left Egypt, they were at the 49th Gate of Impurity. However, if a person enters the 50th Gate of Impurity, it is virtually impossible for him to ever get out. The miracle and gift of Pesach, therefore, is that although the Israelites had not spiritually earned the elevation out of the 49th Gate of Impurity, the Creator infused them with a tremendous amount of Light so that the process of falling into the 50th Gate of Impurity was prevented. The subsequent 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot, the day of receiving of the Light of the Torah and Immortality at Mount Sinai, was when the Israelites worked to elevate themselves out of the Gates of Impurity and into the Gates of Purity. These 49 days are known as the Counting of the Omer; we are currently in this time period.
One of the great gifts and miracles of Pesach, therefore, is that no matter what Gate we are in when we begin the process of the Counting of the Omer, the day after the Pesach Seder we start with a renewed ability to climb our way out and remove any darkness that we have attached to ourselves. And the unique gift of the Shabbat of Shmini is that it offers this beautiful understanding of Pesach and the 49 days that follow. The Creator rectified the flaw in Creation, giving those who are in a trajectory of falling a system to stop their fall, thereby preventing this soul or groups of souls from entering the 50th Gate of Impurity.
Pesach was injected into the system of Creation so that no matter how far a person has fallen spiritually at the point of a 365-day cycle, he or she can connect to Pesach in the coming year, at which point their process of falling stops. Because the Light of Pesach comes into the world every year, no one can experience a full 400-day cycle of falling spiritually and entering into the 50 Gates of Impurity… it’s a pretty amazing understanding.
The Arvei Nachal explains that the system of the Counting of the Omer is also a tremendous gift from the Creator in which the Creator not only gives us the ability to stop the process of falling, as we just discussed, but the Creator, through the Counting of the Omer, also gives us a rocket booster into the process of elevating into the 50 Gates of Purity.
The power of the Counting of the Omer is that it elevates us through a Gate in an instant, which not only shortens the time, but also quickens the quality. Doing the Counting of the Omer connection takes us approximately five to ten minutes each night for 49 nights. When we connect with this spiritual tool, we are thrown through an entire Gate—eight days’ worth of pure work—in an instant! What usually takes us eight days of pure connection to accomplish, we can do in a few minutes. When we Count the Omer every night for the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot, we are able to do the work of 400 pure days. What an unbelievable gift.
Even if a person is at the 49th Gate of Impurity before Pesach, by the time Shavuot arrives, he will at least be entering into the first Gate of Purity. If a person before Pesach is at the first Gate of Purity, by Shavuot he is at the 50th Gate of Purity. If we all make the connection to the Counting of the Omer, no one in the world will have any negativity at the end of these 49 days. This is why these 49 days of the year are so powerful.
Going back to where we started, we now understand that the “eight” referred to in the beginning of the portion Shmini concerns our spiritual process of going through one of the 50 Gates. The Zohar tell us that Moses entered into the 50th Gate of Purity. And “on the eighth day,” gives us the energy and power to push through the 50 Gates. On the Shabbat of Shmini , Moses not only gives us the assistance and ability to go through the eight consecutive days of spiritual transformation to elevate to a higher Gate quickly, but also the assistance and support to go through the process of these 49 days of the Counting of the Omer.