"When you go to war in your land against an enemy who oppresses you, you shall sound
short blasts of the trumpets, and you shall be remembered before Yahveh your Elohim, and you shall be
saved from your enemies. On the days of your rejoicing and festivals you shall sound the trumpets, and they shall be a remembrance
for you before Yahveh your Elohim." Numbers 10:9-10
The occasions when the Torah commands the public blowing of the shofars (trumpets) were ones of great
sorrow on one hand, and great joy on the other. Times of sorrow and distress included war, epidemic and drought. The short
blasts of the shofar, denoting sobbing, wailing, were a call to repentance and a reminder that sin brings sorrow and
suffering. Thinking that such calamities are mere coincidences keeps people from changing and enables them
to continue in their corrupt ways that brought the calamity on them in the first place.
The Torah states that Yahveh will heed the sounds of the shofar (trumpet) and show favor to his people -
whether they are blown in sorrow or in joy, though in two different ways. In times of sorrow we are remembered
before Yahveh - implying on that specific occasion. In times of happiness, however, the sounds of the shofar
shall be a remembrance before Yahveh. This phrase implies a continual and perpetual favor, and not just on
that particular occasion.
Why should Yahveh view the ceremonies rooted in happiness more positively than those rooted in sadness?
The story of Jephtah is an example of how we, too, relate to Yahveh. It opens with
the ill treatment Jephtah suffered by his own family, which caused him to run away from them. Jephtah, the mighty
warrior, was the son of a harlot, though his father, Gilead, had other children from his lawful wife. As they grew up they
drove Jephtah away, saying to him, "You shall not inherit in our father's house because you are the son
of another woman." Judges 11:1-2 Later on, however, when their lives were in danger, they turned to Jephtah to
lead them in the battle for their very survival.
Jepthah reminded them of his earlier suffering: Don't you hate me, for you drove me out of my father's
house? Why do you turn to me now, when it is bad for you? (v. 7) Nevertheless, he agreed to lead them, and with the 'Spirit
of Yahveh on him' (v. 29) he brought them to a successful victory over the people of Ammon.
Unfortunately this is the way many of us relate to Yahveh.
The story of Jephtah and his brothers reflect the way many people relate to Yahveh. When things are going
well, they think that they can make their own terms with the Almighty. Moses said: "Jeshurun (Israel)
became fat and kicked, and spurned Yahveh who made him." Deuteronomy 32:15
Keeping the commandments during
times of prosperity was too great a burden for many, especially with huge profits to be made from exploiting slaves beyond
the bounds permitted by the Torah. (Jeremiah 34:8-11) Thus the people 'drove Yahveh out of their lives' when they thought
they were under sunny skies. That suggests why Yahveh appears to be less enthusiastic when people appeal for His
mercy, than when they say 'thank you" - even when things are going well.
Like the words of Jephtah, "Why do you turn to me now, when it is bad for you... Where were you until now?"
says Yahveh. "Why did you not include me in your lives when times were good?"
Yahveh hears all our prayers at all times. And indeed, in times of trouble, when the trumpet blasts
are sounded, He promises that we will be remembered and we will be saved. Even more so, when we joyfully
thank Him for the good things which could so easily be taken for granted, blowing the trumpets becomes a 'remembrance
before Him' - permanent, not temporary condition.
True friends show loyalty and care at all times. A person who only shows friendship when he needs you
is a friend of sorts, but not a real friend. David said: "When
I am surrounded with the pains of death, I call on the Name of Yahveh." Psalms 116:3-4 He did
not forget to express his gratitude in the good time as well, as it is written: "How can I thank
Yahveh for all the wonderful things He has done for me. I raise the cup of Salvation and call in the Name of Yahveh."
The Torah requires us to keep the commandments at all times, whether times are good or difficult.