Parashat Beha'alotcha: Focus on the act

Published date02 June 2023
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
And they would be needed also for the future – when the people will be in their own land and go to war against an enemy. In all these cases, it was commanded to blow the trumpets

This commandment seems at first glance to be quite marginal. Why is it necessary to give an order on how to call the people or how to go to war? This can be done in different ways based on the situation and time. What is special about the trumpets that the nation was commanded to use them in these situations?

Why does the Torah give instructions about how to call people or go to war?

Sefer Hachinuch is a book that was compiled in Spain in the 13th century, and the name of its author is not known with certainty. This book lists all the commandments in the Torah with the main laws that pertain to them, along with the reasons for the commandments, which were usually written according to the philosophy of Maimonides and Nahmanides. It became one of the foundational Jewish books from the Middle Ages. Let us consider the words of this book in the context of the commandments of the trumpets:

"...since at the time of the sacrifice they would need to properly focus their attention... and also [that] the sacrifice requires complete awareness in front of the Master of all Who commanded about them; and also at the time of trouble, a person needs great focus in his supplication before his Creator, that He should have mercy upon him and save him from his trouble, we are therefore commanded to blow the trumpets at these times.

"As since man is physical, he requires great arousal to these things. For the way of nature is to stand asleep... And there is also another purpose, aside from awakening to focusing attention, which is realized through the sound of the trumpet, and that is that the sound of the trumpets removes all other worldly concerns from the heart of the listener, such that at that time he will only [direct] his heart to the matter of the sacrifice... This is well known to anyone who has ever bent his ear to hear, with focus, the trumpets or the sound of a shofar" (Sefer Hachinuch, Commandment 484).

The purpose of the trumpets, according to the author of Sefer Hachinuch, is to make a person focus on what he is doing – on offering sacrifice or praying to God in times of trouble. These actions...

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