This will not be a long message.
This weekend we have been given a gift.
A gift of twenty eight remarkable educators who have come from Israel to inspire us for a few days with Torat Yisrael.
The opportunity is immense.
Over Shabbat thirty nine communities will be a part of the Weekend of Inspiration and then we will come together for Sunday in both London and Manchester.
Tomorrow we lain the Mo’adim – the chagim, which are introduced in the Torah by Shabbat. Shabbat is not a mo’ed – an appointed time, unlike the chagim, which we determine ourselves by the new moon each month (as we did originally before the fixed calendar was established).
Shabbat is different , it occurs every seven days with no need for any human input – it is given to us by Hashem and as it says in the Gemara (Shabbat 10b) – ‘I have a gift in my treasury and I wish to give it to the Jewish people – and Shabbat is its name’.
Sometimes the problems with gifts, is that people do not recognise the value of the gift that they have. Shabbat is the same, for many people it is a day of restrictions, a day of what you can’t do – rather than a day that frees us from the daily grind and allows us to appreciate our families, Hashem and our Torah. Some would say that Shabbat is more valuable than ever in the 21st century as our lives get ever more technological and hectic.
The Parsha commands us that on Shabbat ‘Kol Melacha lo taasu’ ‘You shall do no work’. This ‘work’ is defined by the 39 melachot used to build the Mishkan, Hashem’s dwelling in space. To sanctify Hashem’s place in time we withdraw from those 39 creative acts to allow the time for those 25 hours to become holy.
This Shabbat while abstaining from the 39 melachot, 39 kehillot can celebrate their participation in The Weekend of Inspiration – to allow the sacred time of Shabbat to be uplifted by Torat Yisrael.
Then, on Sunday British Jewry can immerse themselves with Torat Yisrael with 39 scholars, 74 shiurim, 12 keynotes and 27 hrs of learning.
Let us hope British Jewry appreciates the gift they have been given and we use Shabbat and Sunday wisely, to be inspired, be uplifted and be reminded of the power of Torat Yisrael and the miracle of the Jewish people.