This week we read, learn and live the Torah portion of Shemini. We bless the new, upcoming month of Iyar, and begin the study of Pirkei Avos - Ethics of our Fathers.
Rosh Chodesh is Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, 2 Iyar, is the birthday of the Rebbe MaHaraSh, the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe.
Shemini, the eighth day of the consecration of the Mishkon, describes how after being assembled and dismantled for seven consecutive days by Moshe, the Tabernacle, on the eighth day (Rosh Chodesh Nissan), remained intact until the Jewish people journeyed to their next destination in the desert.
Aaron and his sons performed the sacrifices on this day, and Hashem's presence was manifest on the eighth day (not the first seven days) by a heavenly fire that consumed the sacrifices.
Shemini speaks about the tragic death of two of Aaron's sons (Nadav and Avihu), and also discusses the kosher laws.
There are numerous opinions as to what the "sin" of Aaron's sons was.
Chassidus focuses on the concept of them having a רצוא, without a שוב, a "run" without a "return".
In Ezekiel's vision of the Divine chariot (Ezekiel 1:14), it says: והחיות רצוא ושוב - that the living beings were running and returning.
There is a constant yearning of the soul to run back to its Maker, which is the רצוא, to reunite with its G-dly source.
The proper balance is to counter this רצוא, this "running," with a שוב, a return to "this world," and the mission one was given in this world.
In Torah literature, we find numerous great and holy people, who mistakenly, due to their "running" to get closer and closer to Hashem, failed to fulfill their ultimate mission of serving Hashem down here, in this world - they failed to focus on the שוב, on the "return."
Ben Azai is a classic example, as related in the Talmud (Chagigah 14:2), who entered the פרדס, the spiritual orchard, but did not survive.
He, like Nadav and Avihu, with their best intentions of getting close to G-d, got "too close" to G-d.
The lesson of all this to each and everyone of us, is not to erroneously perceive true spirituality as an "escapist" journey to chuck one's responsibility in this world, by focusing on "running" from our true earthly mission which is "here and now," and climb to the spiritual heights of the angels and the trove of souls.
Our mission is to make a dwelling place for Hashem here, in this lowliest of worlds.
With all good intentions, the sons of Aaron (and Ben Azai) perished, בקרבתם לפני ה?, as they drew close to Hashem . They got "too close" to רצוא, to run back to Hashem, without balancing the רצוא with שוב - return.
So every single day, we must learn from the above, and maintain the perfect equilibrium: "Running" in the direction to Hashem, and "returning" to fulfill His mission, in making a dwelling place for Hashem, down here, in the lowest of worlds.
Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus
THE MOSHIACH WATCH: Shemini, the eighth day, represents permanence in the Divine Presence being revealed in this world.
This too is connected to the days of Moshiach, when unlike today's normal pattern of creation, which revolves around the seven days of the week (and creation), there will be a higher, G-dly revelation, associated with the number eight, that transcends seven and creation.
The harp in the Third Holy Temple, will consist of eight strings, not seven like in the first Two Temples, as a further emphasis on how eight will pay a critical part in our daily experience, beyond the natural, creative experience of seven.
Let us prepare for "beyond the nature of creation," "beyond seven," by tapping in to the Shemini, the eight, beyond the nature of creation, that already influences our Divine Service.