Rabbi Yossi Lipsker

The Kabbalah of emotional freedom

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The Kabbalah of emotional freedom

Rabbi Yossi Lipsker

By Rabbi Yossi Lipsker

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 – with us as 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. 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 reaching one step above the seven emotional soul powers into the higher realms of the contemplative world, 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 immediately, with the future ability to live higher and deeper.

That being the case, why do we not light all eight candles each night of Hanukkah? In fact, the most famous Talmudic debate with regards to the correct order of lighting the candles doesn’t even see this as an option! “Beit Shammai says: On the first day one kindles eight lights and, from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until, on the last day of Hanukkah, they kindle one light.” And Beit Hillel says: On the first day one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights until, on the last day, they kindle eight lights.”

My guess is that lightning all eight, each night, isn’t considered an option because the eighth day energy is also a mindset; available to us on all the nights of Hanukkah – if we choose to dial into that mindset. If anything, each day presents us with the opportunity to experience Eighth Day Consciousness in a different setting.

Today, whether it’s the first, fifth, or last day of Hanukkah we are empowered to stand in the light of Eight Day Consciousness and ask ourselves: “What are the areas of my life where I’ve become paralyzed and stuck in seven day syndrome?”

As we stand in the presence of this bouquet of light, we envision ourselves fearlessly untangling those knots, daring to reach upwards beyond ordinary awareness, awakening ourselves and our surroundings, to a dawn of healthier, holier, more wholesome – and perhaps most importantly – more joyous ways of being in the world!

Rabbi Yossi Lipsker is the founder and director of Chabad of the North Shore.

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