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    What to bring to shule – Acharei Mot

    This could be a plea to congregants and visitors not to bring mobile phones to shule.

    Not only does it break the laws of Shabbat, but can’t you live without your mobile? Are you afraid that the world will come to an end if you can’t remain in touch?

    As I say, this could have been a plea to leave mobiles at home. But that is not quite the point I want to make.

    Instead I want to comment on a verse in the sidra. “With this shall Aaron come into the sanctuary,” says the Torah (Lev. 16:3).

    The Hebrew b’zot – “with this” – has an interesting g’matria; the letters zot add up to 408, which in turn is the total of three other words, tzom, kol, mamon – “fasting, prayer and charity”, each of which adds up to 136.

    Those who worked this out had a message for the people of Aaron in every generation, that what they should bring to the sanctuary was a sincere, repentant and generous heart (not a word about mobile phones!).

    Very interesting. You cannot come to shule empty-handed.

    But it is not material things you should bring. What you should bring is genuine spiritual preparation.

    “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel,” says Amos (4:12). Every special occasion requires preparation – Shabbat, Pesach, Rosh HaShanah, Bar-Mitzvah, marriage, death… and so does prayer.

    The Psalmist asks (Psalm 24), “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord and who may stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his desire upon vanity or sworn deceitfully”.

    But what do you do if you have a mountain of mistakes on your back and are not sure God will accept your prayers?

    Pray… that you may be able to pray, and that God may hearken to and help you.

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