Friday, July 24, 2020

blowing chatzotzros -- to have hargasha

Magid Mishneh at the beginning of hil taanis asks:

וראיתי לרבינו בספר המצות שלו שמנה תרועה זו ותקיעה שבשעת הקרבנות במצוה אחת. ותמה אני למה שהרי שני פסוקים הם בכתוב. ונראה שדעתו ז"ל שהמצוה היא אחת כללית לתקוע בחצוצרות במקדש בעת הקרבנות ובעת הצרות בין במקדש בין בגבולין ואין ראוי למנותן בשתי מצות ועוד צ"ע

Meaning, in P' Beha'aloscha, we have a command (10:9) to blow chatzotzros at a time of danger, such as war:

 וְכִֽי־תָבֹ֨אוּ מִלְחָמָ֜ה בְּאַרְצְכֶ֗ם עַל־הַצַּר֙ הַצֹּרֵ֣ר אֶתְכֶ֔ם וַהֲרֵעֹתֶ֖ם בַּחֲצֹצְרֹ֑ת

There is another command (10:10) to blow chatzotzros when offering korbanos:

וּבְי֨וֹם שִׂמְחַתְכֶ֥ם וּֽבְמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם֮ וּבְרָאשֵׁ֣י חׇדְשֵׁיכֶם֒א וּתְקַעְתֶּ֣ם בַּחֲצֹֽצְרֹ֗ת עַ֚ל עֹלֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעַ֖ל זִבְחֵ֣י שַׁלְמֵיכֶ֑ם

These are two independent commandments, done at two completely different times and circumstances.  Why then does the Rambam lump them together and count them as one mitzvah?

(Some compare it to the mitzvah of blowing shofar on Rosh haShana and the mitzvah of blowing shofar at the start of yovel: same action of blowing shofar, but Rambam counts it as two mitzvos since it is done at two different times.  One could argue that the analogy is false.  Rambam writes that the mitzvah on Rosh haShana is מצות עשה של תורה לשמוע תרועת השופר.  The mitzvah on yovel (hil shemita 10:10) is מצות עשה לתקוע בשופר בעשירי לתשרי בשנת היובל.  One is a mitzvah of listeing to shofar, one is a mitzvah of blowing shofar.  Two different actions, therefore counted as two mitzvos.)

Rav Bakshi Doron has an answer in his sichos on 9 Av that I think is really rooted in the Pri Megadim (O.C. 575 M"Z 2).  In any case, the underlying message immediately brought to mind a vort from R' Bloch of Telz that I've written about before.  The Midrash tells us that Moshe's singing "az yashir" as a tikun for his having used that same word "az" earlier (Shmos 5:23) in questioning G-d's treatment of the Jewish people וּמֵאָ֞ז בָּ֤אתִי אֶל־פַּרְעֹה֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר בִּשְׁמֶ֔ךָ הֵרַ֖ע לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה.  Just because both phrases use the word "az" doesn't mean much -- what is the connection Chazal are trying to make?  How does singing "az yashir" make up for Moshe's earlier remark?

Rav Bloch explains (there is a famous Beis haLevi that has a different answerr) that what Chazal are telling us is that when Moshe saw the Jewish people suffering, his question, וּמֵאָ֞ז בָּ֤אתִי אֶל־פַּרְעֹה֙, was not some abstract philosophical dilemma, but was a cry of acute pain and emotional anguish.  He felt the suffering of the Jewish people in the deepest way.    But maybe that's not such a good response -- maybe it would be better to cultivate dispassionate objectivity?  The Midrash answers that argument: someone who is more of a cold fish may not cry out in distress, but a cold fish can't sing shirah either.  Davka because Moshe had the capacity to feel "mei'az basi" and cry out in pain could he also sing out "az yashir" in true elation.  They are two sides of the same coin and go hand in hand.

Blowing chatzotzros is the ma'aseh mitzvah, but the kiyum mitzvah is b'lev, in the heart.  Blowing  chatzotzros is meant to arouse one's heart so that one feels the distress of Klal Yisrael in an eis tzarah.  Blowing chatzotzros when offering korbanos is also meant to arouse the heart, to feel closeness to Hashem in a time of avodah.  It's one and the same mitzvah -- to be an oveid Hashem with hargasha. 

This is perhaps what Chazal mean when they tell us that only one who mourns Yerushalayim can rejoice in its rebuilding.  Chazal are not just talking about whether you wear sneakers instead of leather shoes or sit on the floor instead of a chair on 9 Av.  Anyone can go through the motions.  What Chazal are after is whether you fulfilled the kiyum b'lev of aveilus.  Do you feel anguish that there is no Beis haMikdash?  Do you feel pain at seeing Yerushalayim not yet fully restored to its glory?  Do you have a hargasha?  Because if you are not emotionally invested enough to feel the pain and suffering of what we are missing, then don't expect to feel elation and joy when we get it back. 


  1. -- "count them as one"

    is it unthinkable that Rambam first counted the trumpetings as two mitzvahs but at the end of the day found himself with 249 positive commands, and not one of them dispensable? what to do??

    -- "two sides of the same coin"

    wouldn't the flip-side of blowing chatzotzros in distress be blowing them when the source of that very distress is removed? trumpeting His victory over, and our relief from, the [irregular] "danger"? (ie. 10:10, blowing chatzotzros over [regularly occuring] festivities, is not opposite 10:9, is not paired with it k'negdo)

    -- as a physician himself, what would the great Maimonides* advise, transported to our day: facemasks and trumpets? trumpets and hydroxychloroquine? perhaps trumpets alone until further notice...?

    *who underscores the extension of the trumpet technique to plagues, famines, etc.

    -- seems those who mourn on "9 Av" haven't heard the saying, 'no use crying over unspilled blood' (the untapped circulation serving the flesh of select herbivores* these 2000 years); did Avraham cry in frustration when Yitzchak was spared the knife**?

    *sheep, goats, rams etc.

    **though it was a malach Hashem, and not the Roman army, who interrupted his action

  2. -- Moshe's first "az" (in both the current post and the link)

    of course things had to get worse for the people; once they've been informed of His Presence (at Shemos 4:30-31), any idolatry* of theirs is >now lifnei Hashem<. a sword over their heads (5:21) is the necessary result**.

    *Avraham (link) was of course thrown into the furnace for refusing idolatry, religiously persecuted (while his descendants in Egypt, the Hebrews, were racially persecuted)

    **the increased workload of the slaves hints at this dynamic: now more than ever the Hebrews are caught up in and suffering their handiwork (bricks >> idols)

  3. Yahserkoach Reb Chaim Shlit"a