In this week's Torah reading of Baha'alotcha Hashem pushes the Jewish people towards the land of Israel. During the journey, the Jewish nation complained about the length and the pace of the trip. Why was the journey so arduous?
The parasha and the haftara share the theme of a gold menora. In the parasha, it is an actual menora, of the Mishkan/Beit Hamikdash (Bamidbar 8:2-4). In the haftara, it is a prophetic vision that represents the emerging leadership in the community that returned to Zion after the destruction of the first Temple, who were involved in the rebuilding of the Temple (Zecharia 4:2-3). Even though this haftara is also read on the Shabbat of Chanuka, we have proved elsewhere that there is no connection between that menora and the events of Chanuka.
The Torah states that Aharon and Miriam’s negative speech about Moshe had to with the isha kushit (simple translation being, the Kushite woman) that he took (Bamidbar 12:1-3). Several years ago, we discussed the opinions in Chazal that there was nothing derogatory about her being a Kushite, and actually to the contrary. However, there are some Rishonim who see in this matter a point of contention against Moshe and his wife, who left her father’s home to follow Moshe into the desert.
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.
Our parasha lists several uses for the chatzotrot (trumpets) that Bnei Yisrael were commanded to make. They were used in the desert, where all Bnei Yisrael were encamped together, for gathering the people or the leaders and as a sign to travel (Bamidbar 10:2-7). The Torah goes on to list purposes that were used throughout generations when the people were in their own land – to turn to Hashem when war or other trouble appeared (ibid. 9) and to blast joyous sounds on “your happy day (yom simchatchem), your moadim (special days within the year), and your new months … on your burnt offerings and your shelamim offerings” (ibid. 10).