Every Day a Celebration – B’ha-alotekha 5779

D'var Torah | Numbers

Among the various instructions Moses gives to the people Israel during their journey to the Land of Israel are those related to the fashioning of silver trumpets. According to the scriptural narrative, God commands Moses to make two trumpets out of a single plate of silver (Numbers 10:2). The trumpets will serve four purposes. First, the trumpets will sound assembly so that when both are heard, the tribes will gather together and when one is heard only the tribal leaders will gather together (Numbers 10:3-4). Second, a succession of sharp notes signals the order to begin the march (Numbers 10:5-6). Third, the trumpets will serve to sound an alarm if war is threatened (Numbers 10:9). And finally, the trumpets will be sounded during festivals – times of celebration (“yom sim-hat-khem,” in Hebrew) – while the sacrifices are offered (Numbers 10:10).


Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, however, has a broader understanding of the fourth circumstance during which the trumpets are sounded. He notes that verse 10 includes a series of instances in which the trumpets are sounded, the festivals being but one and the New Moon being another. The festivals are included in the Hebrew word “mo’adeikhem.” So “yom sim-hat-khem” cannot also refer to the festivals or to the New Moon since that would be redundant. Accordingly, “yom sim-hat-khem” must refer to something else. That “something else” is likely a contrast with the previous verse that speaks of the threat of war. Hence, Hirsch concludes, in addition to sounding the trumpets during the festivals, the trumpets are sounded during times of peace. Since any day that is not a time of war is a time of peace, the only conclusion to be reached is that the trumpets were blown every day! But why?


Here Hirsch adds a striking insight. Every day at peace is a day worth celebrating. Every day when we achieve what is worthwhile is a day worth celebrating. Every day that brings us closer to some noble goal is a day worth celebrating. The Torah is telling us more than the instructions for blowing trumpets. The Torah is setting for us the goals for personal fulfillment.


Words to Live By

What lies behind you and what lies ahead of you pales in comparison to what lies inside you.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rabbi Allen on Twitter