Crazy Eights

This week’s portion is Shemini, which means “eighth” – literally it was the “eighth day of assembly”. This portion is about the numbers. there are a couple of strands here. First, there are prescriptions for the number of sacrifices that Aaron (the High Priest) will make and how many will be made for the people of Israel. Oddly more are prescribed to atone for the people of Israel than for Aaron. Commentary tells us that two specific sacrifices were added to atone for sins of the people.

First, a he-goat was added to atone for the he-goat that Joseph’s brothers killed. They dipped his coat in the blood to convince his father Jacob that Joseph was dead. The second was a calf and it was atonement for the obvious: the people’s worship of the idol the Golden Calf. And that’s why there are more sacrifices prescribed to atone for the sins of the people Israel.

So, more numbers. This portion also provides us with the inauguration of Aaron as the High Priest or Kohen Gadol on the eighth day. Why the eighth? Back to commentary which tells us that the number eight has great significance as it concerns so many things that happen in the tabernacle itself. For example, the priest wears eight garments or priestly vestments, the incense burned on the altar is comprised of eight spices and when sacrifices are made the levites sing eight separate compositions.

In Judaism, the number eight is also associated with the miraculous, the supernatural. In this Torah portion a great miracle happens – the presence of Adonai will appear to the people. The number eight is also associated with new beginnings in Judaism. In our synagogue, we always mention this before the Torah processional; we process in a figure eight pattern to signify both the miraculous and new beginnings.

i pray that your Passover season was blessed and I pray that as we go forward counting the Omer up to Shavuot that you have new beginnings and miracles in your life. Remember – we are talking about the month of Nissan. This comes from the word Nase, which actually means miracle. So I pray that this miraculous month brings you many miracles and blessings going forward in the time of matan Torah, the giving of Torah.

Shabbat Shalom and Kol Tuv from here in Florida to wherever you are in the world.

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Pastor Matt McKeown

Matt is the Senior Pastor at the United Brethren in Christ Church (UBIC) in Holly Hill Florida. It is his desire to see Jewish people recognize Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah and for Christians to recognize the Jewish foundation of their faith.

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