Kenneth Cohen

The Number Eight

Parshat Shemini begins by speaking of the eighth day of preparation for the dedication of the Mishkan. The Kohanim needed to learn all of the details of their future service.

The Keli Yakar points out the significance of the number eight in Judaism, as opposed to the number seven. When we speak of the number seven, it reflects that which is natural and expected.

There are seven days in a week, and the natural life span of an individual is seventy years. In short, the number seven expresses that which is expected.

Eight, on the other hand, shows that which is above nature. A baby’s Brit is on the eighth day. When one reaches the age of eighty, it is called, “Gevurot.” This is translated as super natural strength, because nature has been defied.

It can also be said that “seven” reflects חול, or the profane. “Eight,” reflects that which is holy. The Jewish people are connected with the holy.

The Jewish people are the example of defying nature. No nation ever survived for nearly 2000 years without a homeland. Their strict adherence to the Torah allowed survival under the worst conditions.

One rabbi said that a greater miracle than the splitting of the Red Sea, is the survival of the Jewish people. We clearly connect with the number “eight,” as part of our essence.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at