Lucky Number 8?
Shemini 2010/5770
KOSHER SUTRA 'Aaron's sons - -brought before the Lord foreign fire' (Lev.10:1)
SOUL SOLUTION Increase in spiritual strength.
BODY BENEFITS Strenghten back and thighs

How can we reach beyond ourselves and touch the Infinite?

The Beijing Olympics officially began at 8 seconds and 8 minutes past 8 pm, on the 8th of August, 2008. There are eight petals on the Buddhist lotus flower. Last July a group of men were arrested for a street fight over the numberplate ‘8888’. Jewish boys are traditionally circumcised on their 8th day. There’s clearly something going on, if we can but figure it out.

Many cultures see eight as a lucky number. The rabbis saw it as a code for something bigger, beyond the natural. There are seven days of creation and eight represents the metaphysical, which is why the inauguration of the Temple – a bridge between man and God – took place on the eighth day of festivities. The day of joy turned to tragedy when two priests, Nadav and Avihu, began to improvise and paid dearly for their spontaneity and were killed by a heavenly fire.

Why shouldn’t there be room for spiritual spontaneity? Ashtanga Yoga is a strict form of asana/vinyasa practice that aims to unite physical and spiritual aspects in its eight-part system (‘Ashto’ means ‘eight’). If you practice with a traditional Ashtanga teacher, you’ll find that keeping to the system takes precedence over personal ideas and spontaneous movement. The majority of yogis will agree that even if you want to become creative with the sequence of postures, there are basic principles of correct alignment that ensure you get the full benefit from any individual asana (pose). 

This week’s kabbalistic theme is Gevurah, which means both Strength and Discipline. One form of strength comes through holding back. Discipline can lead to freedom but it can mean that sometimes have to pay a price to get that freedom.

Some say that Nadav and Avihu were killed because they were actually drunk*. Another says that they were arrogantly waiting for the older generation to die so that they could take the senior leadership**. Worse still is the charge that they were punished because they were unmarried:

“Nadav and Avihu were supercilious and never married. Many were the women who waited for them, wasting themselves as old maids. But they said…”What woman could possibly be suitable for us?”***.

Talk about Jewish guilt. 

The rabbis teach that there although there are many paths to God through the different spiritual traditions, there are also limits. When we keep to the physical limits in any yoga posture - through correct foot placement, alignment and breathing – we use this power of Gevurah-Discipline to release our inner strength. 

A powerful spiritual-physical connection doesn’t have to be a matter of relying on lucky numbers, but channelling our physical energy so that we can connect with greatness. 

Shalom V'Ahava



*Vayikra Rabbah 12:1 – ‘When He commands Aharon, “Do not drink wine to intoxication, you or your sons, when you enter the Ohel Mo’ed (tent), that you not die! (Leviticus 10:9)”. We come to understand that they died only because of wine. [trans: R Matis Weinberg].

**”Moshe and Aharon walked along, and Nadav and Avihu walked behind them. Said Nadav to Avihu, ‘When will these two old men die already, and you and I can lead the generation?” BT Sanhedrin 52b.

***Vayikra Rabba, 20:10 [translation: R Matis Weinberg].