Moshe’s Silver Trumpet: B’ha’alotkha 2021

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you tend to use the most recent models of day-to-day tools, be they technological or otherwise? Or do you tend to prefer the “old-fashioned” models that simply got the job done?

When we picture a shofar, we tend to think of a ram’s horn, but it may surprise you to know that some trumpets used for Israelite communal purposes were made of something different:

The Pitch: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Have two silver trumpets made; make them of hammered work. They shall serve you to summon the community and to set the divisions in motion.” – Numbers 10:1-2

Swing #1: “[The silver trumpet] is the only instrument [mentioned in the Hebrew Bible] the design and construction of which are indicated by divine revelation.” – Gerald A. Klingbeil, Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible

Swing #2: “At the level of the historic narrative, mentioning the trumpets here naturally follows the mention of the fiery cloud in the previous verses. … The trumpets supply the details of how the Israelites would concretely follow the guidance of God through the wilderness.” – David L. Stubbs, Numbers

Swing #3: “They were meant to be at Moses’ disposal at all times so that he would not have to send out to find someone who owned trumpets.” – Chizkuni

Late-Inning Questions: How do our commentators characterize the importance of the silver trumpets? Why is it not enough to use the ram’s horn to alert the Israelites? Is the fact that they’re silver significant? How important is it to make sacred moments beautiful?

On-Deck at TBT: We’re glad to promote the upcoming virtual visit of Rabbi Becky Silverstein as part of Project Belonging. Click here to register for his keynote address on Thursday, June 3rd.

The Big Inning at the End: I don’t think it has anything to do with the Torah portion, but … I mean, just watch this play. Unbelievable.

Shabbat Shalom!