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    Ready for the day after – Vayakhel

    We open the sidra this week with Moshe Rabbenu assembling the Israelites and telling them 39 things which God expects them to do – to keep Shabbat, to be generous, to furnish the Tabernacle and so on.

    What date was it when this assembly took place? Rashi tells us that according to the sages, it was 11 Tishri, the day after Moshe came down from the mountain.

    11 Tishri has an additional significance in the Jewish calendar, of course: it is the day after Yom Kippur.

    We learn from this fact that any great day matters in two ways: it is important in itself, and it is important because of what follows it.

    Yom Kippur is the best example. It is a day of sanctity, a day of emotion, a day with a message. Statistically it gathers huge congregations, but the next day the numbers in shule are sparse again. Spiritually it envelops us in an exceptional mood, but then our commonplace weekday activities resume as normal.

    Ethically it softens our feelings towards each other, but the next day we argue, we criticise, we attack each other’s opinions and are disputatious as before.

    What a joy it would be if the morrow of the great day began a new, nicer era.

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