If we make sure to remember God when we are likely to forget Him, then He will remember us when we need Him most.
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
This week’s Torah portion is “Beha’alotcha” (Numbers 9:1–14), and in it we read about the ceremonial trumpets that the Jewish people were required to make.
These trumpets, and there were two, had to be made of silver. They were used for a number of different functions,
During the 40 years of wandering in the desert, the people would travel and camp, travel and then camp again – the camping would last days, weeks or months; it was unpredictable. The shofar would be blown, in a series of short blasts, informing them that it was time to pack up and get ready for the next journey.
They would also be blown when the people were meant to assemble for a “town hall” meeting. Long blasts from two trumpets meant that the entire community was being called to assemble, and a short blast from one trumpet meant that only the leaders were to participate.
When the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel, the trumpets took on an additional role, signaling with short blasts the start of a war.
Finally, after the construction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, the trumpets were blown on holidays and other joyous occasions.
The commentators elaborate on the reasons and the different ways that the trumpets were blown for various occasions.
In the context of blowing the trumpets during wartime, the verse says, “you will be remembered before the Lord your God.” Hence, the purpose of sounding the trumpets during wartime was to “remind” God about us, that we need Him in order to be victorious.
However, in the context of blowing the trumpets in the Holy Temple on holidays, the verse says, “they shall be for you as a remembrance before your God.” Hence, the purpose of sounding the trumpets on these occasions was to remind us about God!
It is explained that in times of festivity and celebration, people tend to forget about God. Everyone gets all caught up in the moment, the good food, the good wine, the break from routine and the comfort it all offers. God often takes a back seat at such times. This is why the trumpets were blown on holidays, as if to tell the people, “enjoy yourselves but don’t get too carried away!” The holidays were ultimately all about serving God.
In times of war, however, everyone remembers God! As the saying goes, there are no atheists in a foxhole. We certainly don’t need a ‘God reminder’ at such times.
We see from here that our relationship with God is ultimately a partnership – a two-way street. If we make sure to remember God when we are likely to forget Him, then He will remember us when we need Him most. By extension, when things are going well – the medical report came back positive, the bills were paid, the boss gave you a raise, your wife made your favorite dinner – remember to thank God!
For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.