The Eighth Day of Pesach ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the Holy Days is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Michael Sakash and Mrs. Channah Sakash, may they rest in peace.

"These are appointed times by Hashem, His {required} Holy Assemblies, that you are to proclaim in their appointed times. In the moon's renewal, the first month [Nisan] in the fourteenth day [of Nisan] from the moon's renewal between evenings [late afternoon and dark] make the Pesach [offering] unto Hashem. And in the fifteenth day of this month from the moon's renewal is the Festival of Matzohs unto Hashem. In the first day you shall celebrate with a Holy Assembly for you. You are not to make any work or labor [on that day] and [you are to bring] the fire offerings to Hashem [for each of the] seven days. In the seventh day [of the Festival of Matzohs], there is [another] Holy Assembly. You are not to make any work or labor [on that day]." Leviticus 23:4-8

Holy reader, we celebrate eight days:
14 Nisan is the Pesach [Passover sacrifice] seder
15 Nisan is the first day of the Festival of Matzohs, the second seder and first day of the omer
21 Nisan is the seventh day of the Festival of Matzohs

Even though 21 Nisan is the seventh day of Matzohs it is the eighth and final day of Pesach. Hashem established eight as a very special number.

Eight represents:
The day a Jewish male child is circumcised {Leviticus 14:10}
The second set of wrappings on the Tzitzis, a garment worn by males
The garments worn by the Kohen Godal
The days of Pesach / Matzohs - Leviticus 23:4-8
The Torah's list of unclean swarming things - Leviticus 11:29
The number of times that the words Kee - Ah Nee - Hashem - Eh Loh Hay Chehm, meaning "For I am Hashem your G-d" {Ex. 6:7, 16:12, Lev. 11:44, 20:7, 24:22, 25:17, 26:1, and Deut. 29:5}

During these eight days we are forbidden to eat chometz. We are instructed to remove all leaven from our homes. Much emphasis is placed on the removal of chometz / leaven products. However there is another issue. The Torah says, 'We are to eat matzos for seven days.' {Exodus 12:5, 13:6} Now notice that in Deuteronomy it states that we are to eat matzos for six days. {Deuteronomy 16:8}. Our sages state that this means the seventh day is optional. JewishPath holds by the stricter opinion of seven days. We know that we are to begin eating Matzohs on Erev Pesach {Exodus 12:18}. We are supposed to eat Matzohs from the evening of 14 Nisan for seven days including Pesach. That means the last day of Matzohs, 21 Nisan, is open.

Those who count six days actually do not count Pesach even though they begin eating matzohs on Pesach. They begin their count on the first day of Matzohs, 15 Nisan. They also conclude the obligation of eating Matzohs on 20 Nisan. What is the point?

Are we required to eat Matzohs on the eighth day of Pesach which is the seventh and final day of Matzohs? It is optional! It is open. It is a choice. Even though we know there are eight days of Matzohs, Pesach plus seven days of Matzohs. The eighth day is a choice. There is a deep meaning rooted here! The Torah's intention is for us to eat Matzohs, yet it is a choice. It is not a command.

Why are we NOT COMMANDED to eat matzohs on the eighth day? This is done to direct us to the Torah's intent. This is to redirect our attention to areas in life where we know what Hashem intends for us to do, even though Hashem has not commanded us to specifically do it. Hashem provides us with the Torah. We understand the Torah's intent. So when we reach areas where we are not commanded to follow a specific path, G-d willing we we will follow the HIGH ROAD... WE WILL OBSERVE THE TORAH'S INTENTION! In this week's parsha we discussed holiness in the article entitled "Costume Holiness." We gave several examples where in effect the individual involved chose NOT to follow the higher road. In essence that person chose not to eat matzoh on the eighth day. That person chose NOT to follow the Torah's intention! That person chose to swindle his neighbor. Did he break the law? Possibly not! Did he violate a specific Torah command? Possibly not! Did he violate the Torah's intention? DEFINITELY!! Most of us understand Hashem's desires for us, but in those gray areas where an exact command does not exist, where we could possibly slide by or get a favorable passach from the right rabbi... will we choose the high road? That is what the eighth day is about, choosing the high road. The eighth day is a challenge to us. It is a challenge of what the Torah intends without actually saying it.

Chassidim, when we fulfill our Master's wishes {His intention} without being commanded to do so, we are truly reaching the summit of holiness. When we observe His unspoken, unwritten desires we are living on a special level of holiness.

This is one part of a three part series:

The Costume of Holiness

Ten Steps of Holiness

The Eighth Day of Pesach {Passover}


Good Yom Tov!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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