Vayakhel: What will you be doing on the day after?
What will you be doing on the day after?
Parshat Vayakhel commences (Shemot 35:1),
“Vayakhel Moshe et kol adat Bnei Yisroel.” – “Moshe congregated the entire assembly of the People of Israel.”
“Lemacharat Yom Hakippurim,” – “This took place on the day after Yom Hakippurim.”
Which yom Kippur is Rashi referring to and why is it important for us to know this? Rashi continues, “Kesheyarad min hahar,” – “When Moshe came down from the mountain.” Now we see that he was referring to that original Yom Kippur when we received the second tablets of the Ten Commandments.
You will recall that after initially spending 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai, Moshe received the first tablets and then, when he came down and witnessed the nation worshipping the golden calf, he smashed them. On the first of Elul, Moshe ascended the mountain again and 40 days later, on the 10th of Tishrei, he received the second set of tablets.
Why did Moshe not wait? Why was he so keen to gather the people together immediately after the receipt of the second tablets? The answer is surely that Moshe Rabbeinu recognised that on the previous day, the nation had had the most extraordinary, uplifting experience, a transformational day for one and all. And he wanted to guarantee that there would be follow-up.
He didn’t want that to be a one day memory. Rather, he wanted it to genuinely change their lives for the better, and so he purposefully, proactively created an event to guarantee that the inspiration which they had received would now continue well into the future.
We can learn so much from Moshe Rabbeinu’s lesson. For example, immediately following a Bar Mitzvah or a Bat Mitzvah, we can’t just leave it up to chance that our children will remain connected to our people and our tradition. We need to proactively create programmes of study and engagement for them to continue their commitment. Similarly, after many years of immersive Jewish education, it’s important for us to create opportunities for ongoing Jewish education and commitment well into adulthood. I find all this to be of great relevance right now. The pandemic has provided us with an extraordinary, unprecedented, long opportunity for cheshbon hanefesh, introspection. During Covid we’ve been reassessing our lives and now we have fresh priorities. As we now emerge from the pandemic towards a more regular rhythm of life, let’s learn that lesson from Moshe Rabbeinu – let’s do something proactively to guarantee that all our Covid resolutions will be translated into action, to ensure that the inspiration that we have received will continue for the rest of our lives.
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