Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Matos - Masei

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"Build for yourselves cities for your small children, and enclosures for your flocks, and that which comes from your mouths, you shall do." [32:24]

The tribes of Reuven and Gad, because they had large flocks, asked Moshe for permission to settle on the east side of the Jordan River. Moshe questioned them, criticizing them if they intended to "avoid the draft" and leave the other tribes to worry about occupying the Land of Israel to the west of the river, as G-d commanded. They insist, however, that they will merely "build flock-enclosures for our possessions here, and cities for our small children," [32:16] and will then lead the way, not returning home until the other tribes have received their inheritance.

Moshe responds by saying essentially that they must do what they pledged. They must quickly build cities and grazing areas, and then lead the way. If they do so, then they will be "clean of sin before G-d and Israel, and will inherit that land as their inheritance before G-d." [32:22]

Given that this is so, that Moshe simply told them to do as they had promised, the response of the two tribes is surprising. "And the Children of Gad and the Children of Reuven spoke to Moshe, saying, 'your servants will do as our master commanded.'" [32:25] Are they doing what Moshe commanded, or as they themselves pledged?

The Ksav Sofer, quoting from the Medrash, finds a very important distinction. The two tribes said "we will build flock-enclosures for our possessions here, and cities for our small children." Moshe, however, reversed the order: "build for yourselves cities for your small children, and enclosures for your flocks." The tribes of Gad and Reuven worried first about their possessions, and then about their little children; Moshe said to them, "do not make the trivial central." Put first things first -- build cities for your children, and then and only then ensure that your flocks are properly protected.

When a person desires money, and is chasing after it, then you cannot rely upon him and his commitments. Says the Ksav Sofer, his desire for money will cause him to renege on those commitments if they stand in his way. Only if the children of Reuven and Gad can reverse the order, and worry about their families before their possessions, can they be trusted. This is why Moshe concludes, "and that which comes from your mouths, you shall do." If you take care of your families before your flocks, then you can be trusted to meet your commitment to the nation as well.

It is natural for a person to feel attached to his possessions, and to desire more. Only in the end are we reminded that "few people died wishing they had spent more time at the office." We must remember that there are higher priorities, and be sure to address them -- if we know which commitments are most important, then people will know that they can rely upon our commitments to them, as well.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken


 






ARTICLES ON TOLDOS:

View Complete List

The Worst from the Best
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Sinai & Sina
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

Different Messages
Rabbi Chaim Flom - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Inside Outside
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5759

Worse than Color Blind
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

The Tragic Flaw of Brother Esau
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

ArtScroll

Who deserves a blessing?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

The Blessing of Blessing
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

The Wayward Child
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Fatherly Game
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Teaching Redemption Teaching Truth
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Oh Brother!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

> From Soup to Nuts
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

At Least We Should Try To Act Like Eisav!
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Newer Than News
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Murder: Going for the Kill
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information