Kenneth Cohen

The Day after Yom Kippur

The Keli Yakar makes an interesting observation connected with the word, “מחרת,” meaning, “the day after.” He noted that this word was used twice.

It was mentioned in connection with Yitro’s visit to the camp. It was also mentioned regarding the appeal for materials to construct the Mishkan.

The “day after” in both cases referred to the day after Yom Kippur. The Jewish people were ready to move forward as a people. Moshe Rabbeinu had come down from Mount Sinai with the second set of tablets, and achieved full atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf.

Yom Kippur was an auspicious time, as there is solid unity on the holiest day of the year. Moshe wanted to build on this unity as they were given the task of creating a dwelling place for the Shechina, the Divine Presence.

Yitro’s contribution was that on that very day that followed Yom Kippur, he insisted that there be an efficient judicial system set up. This was very much related to the great fund raising effort that also began at that time.

In order for the Mishkan to succeed in becoming the spiritual center of the Jews in the desert, and later in Israel, it had to have, absolute purity. All gifts that were accepted had to come from individuals who gave with a generous heart. They certainly could not contribute stolen money. This was why the court system had to be in place. There was accountability as to the origin of these gifts. And there was great emphasis on not giving begrudgingly. There was an accounting of exactly where all of these gifts went.

The combination of the unity of Yom Kippur, a proper court system, and being certain of the honesty of the donors, guaranteed that this portable Temple fulfilled its role. It elevated the nation, and brought them all closer to G-d.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at