Newsletter            April 8, 2010 - 24 Nissan 5770


 The Eighth Day

"Shabbas!" is the way we tell Pip, our dog, that he is not allowed in the dining room. He is very careful with Shabbat and everything seemed fine, at least until Pesach. He gave us a strange look when we declared "Shabbas!" before the first Seder. He knew it hadn't been a week, and to top it off, no one gave him his usual portion of Challah. That was followed by the second Seder, then Shabbat, and then two more days of "Shabbas!"  By the last day of Pesach, he was fed up. He looked at me as if to accuse me of being a liar.

I wasn't lying. It was Shabbat; or what I think of as the Eighth Day of Shabbat: The blissful disappearance of routine is something young betrothed couples on the eve of their wedding, or people who have just moved house, must have a sense of. It feels to them as if the few days of celebration or the happy chaos of settling in will last forever, becoming the very stuff of their lives, light and sparkling. Tradition actually compares Shabbat to a young betrothed couple. Halacha treats the Shabbat as if we have just moved house; there are laws about how far we can walk outside of our "boundaries!"

Shabbat is our opportunity to be free of routine and create new levels of life. We cannot allow Shabbat to become part of our routine. Our Shabbat is a powerful reflection of our soul. I hate to say it, but I ask myself, "How is this Shabbat different from all other Shabbats of the year?"

Hence, the name of this week's portion, Shemini - The Eighth Day. It was the final day of the dedication of the Mishkan. Their work was finished. Everything was complete. The people were forgiven for the Golden Calf. What happens next?

Shabbat can become routine. Festivals can become routine. The Temple service can become routine. The last day of the dedication was the first day of the rest of the Mishkan's existence. One thing had to be made clear: It was the Eighth Day, beyond any routine, even spiritual routine. It was a challenge and a promise: God challenged Israel to serve Him without any sense of routine, in the Eighth Day, beyond the normal, and He promised in exchange to relate to us in the same manner.

The Foundation Stone and Blog are our commitment to living in the Eighth Day. They are our battle cry against any sense of routine in our spiritual lives. We hope that you continue to join us here in this special world of the Eighth Day. Bring some extra treats for Pip; he'll be OK.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
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