Four verses later, when the Torah concludes the accounting, we are again told “Zot chanukat hamizbei’ach” — “This was the dedication of the Altar — acharei himashach oto — after it was dedicated” (7:88).
Why did the Torah start out using the expression of “beyom” — “on the day” — and conclude with the expression “acharei” — “after”?
Perhaps this change of terminology can be explained in the following way:
It is common for people to cherish something new. As time passes, however, the novelty often fades away.
When people buy something new, such as a car, clothing, etc., they are very excited over it and the minutest scratch on the car or stain on the clothing bothers them immensely. As time passes, and the newness of the items wanes, so does the excitement and concern.
On the day the Altar was anointed, everybody was in high spirits. The Torah is telling us that not only were they in great spirits “on the day the Altar was anointed,” but that even “after it was anointed,” it did not lose its newness, but was cherished with the same love and awe as on the first day.
This is our benchmark, both in matters of the mundane where we are taught: Who is rich, someone is joyful with their lot; and also in matters of spirituality and Divine service where we strive to grow and improve every day. As Rebbe Nachman teaches: “If you are no better tomorrow than you were today, what need have you for tomorrow.”