On the day of your simchah and your appointed holidays and your new moons
you shall sound the trumpets over your olah-offerings and the slaughter of
We know what this pasuk asks of us. It is not at all clear, however, what
Halachically, the Torah requires that the sounding of the chatzotzros
accompany some of our korbanos, including those of Shabbos, Yom Tov, Rosh
Chodesh, and even the two daily temidim. We know all of this through
amplifying the plain meaning of the text through accepted methods of derash.
Each word or phrase extends the primary motif, i.e. days of your simchah,
to demand the same simchah-associated practice of sounding the trumpets on
other occasions. The derashos make abundant sense. We still would like to
know what the Torah means in its plain sense by these days of simchah, which
would represent some basic and fundamental sense of rejoicing.
Ibn Ezra opts for times of national triumph over an enemy, either in
returning from a successful military campaign, or in repelling the attack of
an invading enemy army. This approach lacks support. We do not find that any
of the Shoftim or righteous kings of Israel marked their victories in the
manner suggested here.
Rather, the days of simchah in our pasuk refer to occasions of inaugurating
the altar. This follows from a mishnah explicating a pasuk in Shir
Ha-Shirim: “On the day of his wedding, and the day of his heart’s
rejoicing.” The wedding, according to Chazal, refers to the great union of
Hashem and His people at Sinai; the rejoicing of His heart means the
building of the beis ha-mikdosh.
The inauguration of a mikdosh is a time of rejoicing of Klal Yisrael as
well. Indeed, we find references to thankful rejoicing with hallel – and
with chatzotzros! – when both the first beis ha-mikdosh and the
second were moved into operational service.
With this approach, understanding a gemara in Horayos comes as a
dividend. The gemara explains that Moshe ordered a twelve-day long
observance of the inauguration of the mishkon in order to honor the nesi’im,
rather than a seven day celebration like the one that Shlomo ordered. By
questioning Moshe’s motive rather than Shlomo’s, the gemara shows that it
finds the seven day period more intuitive than the twelve. Our pasuk
provides the source for this assumption. By juxtaposing “days of simchah”
with “appointed holidays” we understand that the two are organically
related. We know that the basic units of Yom Tov celebration are one day
(Shavuos, Shmini Atzeres) and seven days (Pesach, Sukkos). It follows that
the period of simchah ought to be seven days as well.
Taking this theme one step further, we could argue that a Torah siyum
occupies a parallel position of national simchah. We have shown elsewhere
that the reason we recite Hallel with a brachah on Simchas Torah is not
because we treat it as a second day of Shmini Atzeres, similar to the second
day of observance of other holidays occasioned by our living outside of
Israel. Rather, Simchas Torah enjoys its own obligation of Hallel, because
of the rejoicing that follows the completion of the Torah.
The siyum of Torah is related to the joy of inaugurating a beis ha-mikdosh.
(We display the parallel between them in our Torah reading, which differs
from all other days of the year in our calling up everyone for an aliyah.
The korbanos of the chanukas ha-bayis of the mishkon were also anomalous.
The nesi’im were allowed to bring chatas and ketores offerings on a
voluntary basis, something the law does not ordinarily permit.) We readily
understand this relationship. When Klal Yisrael lived in their land, and the
beis ha-mikdosh stood in its place, Hashem’s providence over us flowed from
His Shechinah, which dwelled within it. That presence depended chiefly upon
our avodah in the beis ha-mikdosh. In galus, without a beis ha-mikdosh,
Torah study takes the place of the avodah of korbanos. Completing a cycle
of the Torah and immediately beginning anew becomes the day of the rejoicing
of our hearts.
There is no greater simchah – nor could there be- than providing the basis
for Hashem resting His Shechinah in our midst. It is our very life.
1. Based on Haamek Davar and Harchev Davar, Bamidbar 10:10
2. See Sefer Ha-Chinuch #384, unlike Rambam, Kelei Ha-Mikdosh 3:5
3. Commentators struggle with this assertion, since Ibn Ezra himself points
to two examples of special days of rejoicing in the wake of military
victory: Chanukah, and Chezkiyah’s celebration in Divrei Ha-Yamim2 30:23.
What Netziv seems to mean, however, is that there is no evidence that
chatzotzros were sounded.