Erachin 9 - 15
Too Many Trumpets?
When King Solomon completed the construction of the Beit Hamikdash and brought into it the Holy Ark and the sacred vessels which had hitherto been in the Mishkan Sanctuary, there was musical accompaniment to this historic move. In addition to the Levites playing a number of instruments there were "with them 120 kohanim blowing trumpets." (Divrei Hayamim II 5:12)
This passage is the source for a statement of Rabbi Huna concerning the rule laid down in the mishna that there must never be less than two trumpets in the music of the Levites in the Beit Hamikdash but that there is no upper limit on how many may be used. However, based on the number mentioned in regard to the ceremony of King Solomon he indeed deduces that there is an upward limit of 120.
Do we interpret this limit as an indication that there is no need to supply more than that number, or is it to be understood that more than 120 trumpets in the Beit Hamikdash orchestra can be counter-productive?
In his commentary on the mishna, Tosefot raises both approaches. The first is that there is no need to try for more. There is definitely an enhancing of the mitzvah of Levite music through the addition of more trumpets. But since we find that King Solomon did not make an effort to secure more than 120 trumpeters Rabbi Huna concluded that this is the maximum for which an effort should be made for such an enhancement.
The second approach is that until 120 there is no danger of the trumpets drowning out the sound of the instruments which produce a more delicate sound. Beyond that there is the danger of this happening as we see that King Solomon limited their number to 120.
The Subtle Slander
"And the men whom Moshe sent to spy out the land who returned, and made all the congregation complain against him, by slandering the land; these men who slandered the land with an evil report died in a plague before the L-rd." (Bamidbar 14:36-37)
The awful death suffered by the spies as a punishment for slandering Eretz Yisrael serves as a warning for all slanderers. If this is what happens to those who slander mere trees and stones, says Rabbi Elazar ben Parta, what will happen to one who slanders his fellow man!
What exactly was the slander which the spies spoke?
The obvious slander was the report that "it is a land which devours its inhabitants" (ibid. 13:32). The funerals they observed during their tour of the land were Divinely arranged in order to divert the attention of the mourning natives from them and were misrepresented by the spies as an indication of the harsh nature of the land.
Maharsha, however, saw in the choice of the fruits they brought back with them an intentional slandering of the land. When Moshe sent them he asked for a report not only on the military capacity of the natives but also in regard to the ability of the land to provide nourishment. Eretz Yisrael is described elsewhere in the Torah as a land of wheat, barley and olives, which are the staples of nourishment, in addition to the grapes, dates, figs and pomegranates which are less so. But the spies, in their desire to discourage the people from going to Eretz Yisrael, brought back only the three less nourishing fruits and described the land as "flowing with milk and honey" to include dates as well. Their report that "these are the fruits" (ibid. 13:27) was intended to convey the impression that the land had nothing to offer in the way of solid nourishment, only these luxury items, and they paid dearly for this slander.
- Erachin 15a