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Shabbat Parashat Beha'alotcha 5777

Parashat Hashavua: Do War and Happiness Go Together?

Harav Yosef Carmel

The Torah, in our parasha, discusses uses of the chatzotrot (trumpets) that Moshe made. After mentioning their use in war (Bamidbar 10:9), it says: “On the day of your joy, your special days, and your new months, you shall blow the trumpets over your offerings” (ibid. 10).

Is there a connection between wars and days of joy? Also, what is this day of happiness, if the yamim tovim are referred to with the next word? The Sifrei (Bamidbar 77) brings two opinions: Shabbat (during the time of the Shabbat offerings); the daily set offerings. The Ibn Ezra explains that the trumpet blasts that were done on Shabbat during the offerings made the people concentrate on their connection to Hashem.

The opinion that the pasuk is referring to Shabbat provides a source for the explanation of the special part of chazarat hashatz of Shacharit of Shabbat which begins, “Those who observe Shabbat shall rejoice in Your Kingdom.” One of the zemirot of Shabbat that the Ibn Ezra wrote (Ki Eshmera Shabbat), states: “For it is a day of joy,” consistent with his explanation here.

The two opinions in the midrash may disagree as to whether a holy day can also be considered a day of joy. This may depend if kedusha, which often refers to refraining from pleasures, can be consistent with joy. We do find: “Go and eat in joy your bread and drink with a good heart your wine, for Hashem has already accepted your actions” (Kohelet 9:7). (The idea of eating bread in joy had deep significance, but it is beyond our scope.)

There are halachic implications of Shabbat being a day of joy. The Manhig says that we refrain from Tachanun at Mincha before Shabbat because Shabbat is a day of simcha. The Maharil says that if Shabbat is defined as a day of simcha, one should not fast due to a frightening dream on Shabbat (see also Tzitz Eliezer VII:25). The Ibn Ezra adds: “… Therefore to fast based on the wise men is forbidden except for the day of the atonement of my sin.”

Ibn Ezra cites another explanation that is strongly anchored in the p’sukim, which is very significant in our generation of the nation’s reawakening. He suggests that the two p’sukim regarding the trumpets are connected in the following way. After going to war, including the blowing of the trumpets, when we are victorious we are to celebrate our day of joy for our success in the manner of Purim. During the course of more than 2,000 years, such a scenario did not occur. However, in our times, after military victories in which we were saved, this serves as one more source for the need to celebrate, as we do on Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. There is an additional hint for such a direction from the Rokeach, who points out that there are twenty words in the second pasuk, like the number of words in the beracha of Shemoneh Esrei about the great shofar announcing the ingathering of the exiles.

Let us pray that increasing parts of our nation will recognize that it is both an obligation and a wonderful opportunity to thank Hashem for the goodness He has bestowed us with, individually and nationally. Through this, we should merit to see and rejoice in further steps of our liberation.
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