Midrash Tehillim 105:9, brought in Yalkut Shimoni § 417 says:

חזקיה אמר למה היה משתנה להן מפני הזבין והמצורעין כדי שיהו יודעים אימתי יום ואימתי לילה.

Hezkiya said the reason Hashem put a cloud on the Mishkan by day, and a pillar of fire by night (see Exodus 40:38), was so that someone who contracted tzaraas, or a zav/zava (who became impure due to a bodily discharge), [can count their requisite seven days before they can complete their purification] so they would know when is the day and when is the night.

Why did they need this indicator? Couldn't they just use day and night/the sun and stars? The Zayis Raanan (ad. loc.) says something about it being so they would know exactly when it changed to night, but I'm not sure why that would be necessary knowledge.

  • 2
    Maybe it's not necessary knowledge, but it would sure come in useful to not have to worry about bein hashemashos. – Heshy Mar 8 '19 at 21:28
  • @Heshy especially since they are tameim until night – Lo ani Mar 9 '19 at 18:04
  • 1. It's only Hezkiya's opinion. 2. He might think that the clouds were so thick they wouldn't know the time otherwise. 3. He might think they relied on those signs as a better indicator of changing times as G-d might fool with the celestial bodies. – Al Berko Mar 9 '19 at 20:54
  • @AlBerko what do you mean that's only Hezkiya's opinion? You assume anytime anyone says anything, that everyone automatically disagrees? I assume the opposite...also re: #3, what precedent is there for such a ludicrous accusation... – robev Mar 10 '19 at 1:08
  • My personal way of treating Midrashim statements is that they can not be truly trusted until discussed and argued. Midrash is just a compendium, bringing different opinions without any discussion. THat's why Hezkiya's opinion is just his opinion, not a unanimously accepted fact. 3. I was serious, it sounds as a viable option - If you had G-d in person or the celestial bodies, who would you trust more? So maybe they relied on G-d more than on nature. – Al Berko Mar 10 '19 at 1:34

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