In this week’s sidra we are told that when the Jewish people wage a war against an enemy, trumpets are to be blown as a warning. However, we are also told in the next verse, that trumpets are to be blown on festivals and Rosh Chodesh (new moon) as part of the celebration of the day. This appears to be quite unusual and perhaps the equivalent today would be using the air raid siren in Israel which alerts the nation to incoming missiles. This would not be used as a symbol of joy as it in fact creates a state of panic/worry to those who hear it. What are we therefore meant to learn from this?
The Rambam (Maimonidies) teaches us that trumpets are blown when a tragedy strikes to remind people to repent. In times of trouble, we might think ‘why is this happening to me?’ However, G-d sends us troubles for a reason and we have to try and decipher what is causing the tragedy to occur and do teshuva.
However, in times of joy and success, we rarely ask ‘Why me’? The same G-d who ‘afflicts’ us, also rewards us but we rarely give the recognition, thinking that success is in our hands, whether it is with regards to an individual’s success at school/work/family or a nation’s success economically or militarily.
Blowing the same trumpets at times of war and festivals, brings home the message that G-d is the source of everything; the seemingly bad as well as the good. The Shemen Hatov suggest that if we remember to thank G-d for the good, perhaps we won’t need reminders of His control through harsher decrees.