It is written in our Parasha of this week called SHEMINI:
ULAVDIL BEN HAKODESCH UVEN ACHOL!
To distinguish between
the holy and the secular!
The problem in the world today is
that the Jews know how to make kiddush, as we just did before starting to eat,
They do not know how to make havdalah !
That means, they do not know how to distinguish between the holy and the secular!
One of the most moving rituals of the Jewish week,
at the arrival of the eighth day,
havdalah (“ the separation”) ceremony,
we bid a sorrowful farewell to the warm comfort of the brief Shabbat with wine, spice and fire.
the feelings we experience as we go through this act of
dividing the Sabbath from the rest of the week,
require the wine
the sweet-smelling fragrances to refresh
re-invigorate our spirits
when we sense the leave-taking of the Sabbath Queen.
As we recite the blessing over the fire,
recalling the teaching of our Sages
fire was created by Adam on that first, primordial Saturday night!
we customarily look at our fingernails.
Why our fingernails?
The most rational explanation is
that we can see, in the reflection of the light,
on one side of our fingers and not on the other,
The actual power of light to provide enhanced vision.
The early commentator Rabbi Menahem Meiri (citing the Gaonim) suggests that
when Adam was first created, his entire body was covered with the same strong substance of the fingernails as a protective coat.
Subsequently, when the forbidden fruit of knowledge of good and evil was eaten,
this protective coat was removed
with only the finger-nails serving as a reminder of his earlier more protected and invincible state.
This week's portion of Shemini opens,
“And it was on the eighth day...."
It looks like everything happened on the eighth day?!
What is the significance of the eighth day, which gives this parasha portion its name?
The “eighth day” is indeed filled with significance.
Let us return to the initial seven days of creation, when G-d created the heavens and the earth, and all of their hosts.
On the sixth day He created the human being and placed him,
Adam together with his wife Eve
in the Garden of Eden.
The first couple sinned by plucking the fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil from off the tree and eating it,
Dividing good and evil from their Divine source,
Good and evil became whatever the human being believed is good for him/her, and / or evil for him/her.
That is why our mystical literature refers to Adam’s sin as his having
" kitzetz banetiyot "
" removing the seed from its source. "
And so Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden.
Then came the first Sabbath Day,
When each individual can find refuge and comfort under the wings of the Divine Presence,
the day when G-D especially extends His ‘arms’ to embrace the penitent.
Indeed the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah) teaches us that Adam recited the Psalm for the Sabbath Day for the first time,
genuinely uplifted by the understanding that there is a road back to Eden
and that it was paved with stones of repentance and repair.
And then came the first Saturday night,
the beginning of the first eighth day.
In Bereishit Rabbah 11,2 it is written:
“ This was the first time that darkness began to descend upon the world….
And G-D prepared two flint stones for Adam,
Adam rubbed them together and there emerged fire.”
Therefore, the first ‘eighth’ day is parallel to the very first day:
on the first day G-d created light for the world,
and on the eighth day Adam created light and warmth for the world.
But it goes much deeper than that.
• On the seven days of creation, G-d created a world for the human being to live in.
• On the eighth day Adam discovered,
how he could repair and improve that world,
• re-create that world as a true picture of the Divine.
Fire is the human response to G-d’s light.
But fire is a double-edged sword:
- it can strengthen and purify,
- it can also petrify.
• • • • •
- it can bring light and warmth,
- it can bring cannon fire and nuclear destruction.
The blessing over fire,
which attributes fire to its ultimate Divine source,
must remind us that we must serve G-d in accordance with His Divine laws,
that we dare not remove our creativity from its Divine direction.
To do so, would be a repetition of Adam’s original sin.
G-d sent down His Divine light and fire as a sign that He accepted our Sanctuary,
Human hands created fire
but human hands must use that fire to recreate and not to destroy.
And therefore we look at our fingers as we make the blessing over fire every Saturday night,
the beginning of our weekly “eighth day.”
We are telling ourselves that everything,
the entire future of our lives and our world
lies in our own hands!