DECEMBER 14, 2017 – In Jewish thought, the number seven symbolizes the routine cycles of our lives and the behavior patterns that we follow on a regular basis, both good and bad. We base this on a mystical idea that views the seven day creation cycle as an ongoing dynamic: We are its continuity.
The number eight on the other hand symbolizes the interrupting of habit, a venturing out beyond the shelter of our neat and familiar comfort zones. In the language of Kabbalah, the number seven symbolizes the seven emotional powers – or Sefirot – that come pre-wired into the human soul: love, restraint, harmony, ambition, devotion, bonding, and receptiveness. All of our routine behavior patterns are fashioned and stem in some form from these seven characteristics.
When we talk about reaching for the number eight in Kabbalah, this symbolizes one step above the seven emotional soul powers into the higher realms of the contemplative world, to the world of Bina, or understanding. This is one of the esoteric reasons that circumcision is performed on the eighth day, gifting the newly arrived soul with the future ability to live higher and deeper. When we reach the last night of Hanukkah, we have already lit all eight candles.
On the last day of Hanukkah we are fully into the “eighth day” mode. On that day, we stand in the light of eight-day consciousness, and we are empowered to ask ourselves:
“What are the areas of my life where I’ve become paralyzed in seven-day syndrome?’
On the eighth day, we are surrounded by this bouquet of light, and we envision ourselves fearlessly untangling those knots, daring to reach upward beyond ordinary awareness, awakening to a dawn of new and better ways of being in the world!
Rabbi Yossi Lipsker is the director of Chabad of the North Shore in Swampscott.