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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Beha'alotcha

Parashat Behaalotcha

Have A Happy Shabbat!

Rabbi Yossef Carmel11 Sivan 5765
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Our parasha (Bamidbar 10: 9-10) discusses times we blow trumpets. One is to call out to Hashem to save us from our enemies. Another is to blow while bringing korbanot (sacrifices) on the following days: days of happiness ("yom simchatchem"), holidays, and new months.

What are the days of happiness (simcha)? After all, the holidays are already addressed. The Sifrei (77) brings a machloket whether it refers to Shabbat or to daily korbanot. Ibn Ezra explains that the purpose was for Bnei Yisrael to hear as the Shabbat korbanot were being brought and focus their hearts to the Heaven. According to Shibalei Haleket, the opinion that relates "days of happiness" to Shabbat explains the text of the Shabbat prayers. We say "they shall rejoice in Your kingdom..." and "they shall rejoice in You." Ibn Ezra’s approach also finds expression in his Shabbat song, "Ki Eshmera Shabbat," where he says, "it is a day of happiness..."

It is possible that the Sifrei’s two opinions differ over the question whether it is feasible that a day of kedusha (usually translated as, holiness) can be categorized as a day of happiness. Some view asceticism as the highest level of kedusha. Others stress the balance recommended by Kohelet: "Go eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a good heart, for Hashem has accepted your actions" (9:7).

There are halachic ramifications to categorizing Shabbat as a day of simcha. The Manhig writes: "We do not recite Tachanun on Friday because Shabbat is also called a day of simcha." The Maharil (end of the Laws of Yom Tov) uses the classification to rule that one does not engage in a ta’anit chalom (a fast to ward off the effects of a bad dream) on Shabbat, as is also alluded to in "Ki Eshmera Shabbat."

We finish with another of Ibn Ezra’s insights in this context, which is rooted in the p’sukim’s simple meaning. The insight has special significance to us, those who have experienced our national revival in the form of the establishment of the State of Israel. Until now, we have viewed pasuk 10, dealing with trumpet blowing at happy times, as separate from pasuk 9, dealing with doing so during tense times. However, Ibn Ezra connects the p’sukim. After returning victorious from battle, it is time to have a day of happiness and bring korbanot of thanksgiving. He gives Purim and other days as examples of the creation of national days of thanksgiving. This idea is behind our celebrations of Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim, which we consider a joyous obligation. There is basis to connect our times, when we have witnessed a massive ingathering of exiles to the celebration of our pasuk. The Rokeach points out that both our pasuk and the beracha of "Teka b’shofar ..." where we ask for the ingathering, contain 20 words.

Let us pray that we will merit lives of happiness through holiness and that we will be able to thank Hashem for our liberation.

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