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    All over again – Vayakhel

    The building of the Tabernacle and the Sacred vessels, from the 1728 Figures de la Bible

    Much of the material about the Tabernacle that we find in this week’s reading repeats information that we were already given earlier in the Book of Sh’mot.

    The basic difference is that in the earlier sections the commands about the mishkan are in the future (“this is what you shall do”) whereas now what we get is a record of the work having been faithfully carried out.

    This leads us, however, to a discussion of the phenomenon of repetition in Judaism. Students are urged to repeat and review their Torah lessons. The Amidah is publicly repeated after it has been said quietly by the individual. Certain prayers are said more than once – e.g. Kol Nidrei is said three times at the beginning of Yom Kippur whilst at the end of the fast Baruch Shem is said three times and HaShem Hu HaElokim seven times.

    The calendar is full of repetitions – the festivals come every year, Rosh Chodesh every month, Shabbat every week. We read the same Torah every year. Doesn’t it make for boredom?

    Not if we follow the example of one of my teachers, who told us that every year he read the Torah through the eyes of a different commentator. His message? Every time you do the same thing again, look at it with different eyes.

    My pupils used to complain – “Pesach? We learnt about it last year!” My response was, “But this year we are looking at it from a different angle!”

    You can always find something new in that which is familiar.

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