Friday, July 22, 2011

QPT: Parshat Matot

Quick Parsha Thoughts: Parshat Matot

No matter how many times you read something, each time you see it in a different light. I find that every time I read the parsha something different jumps out at me. Here are a couple of my observations from reading the parsha this week:

Sometimes just ONE word changes how you read a story. So I was reading the parsha and get up to the part where the Shvatim of Reuven and Gad approach Moshe and ask, "Hi, so if it's OK with you, can we just stay here instead of crossing over to the other side of the Jordan river?" At this point in my head I was thinking, "No! Why would you want to not go into Eretz Yisrael? Hashem told you the land is holy, and you are so close. Don't you want Kedusha? You haven't even seen Israel yet. How do you know this land is better for your cattle?" That would have been my first response. I was also thinking about how, given last week's parsha, this request must have been so painful for Moshe. He wanted so badly to go into Eretz Yisrael, and here Reuven and Gad are saying, "Yeah, we can go in, and you can't, but we don't want to. Can we just stay here?" Anyone besides the great Moshe Rabeinu might have said, "Hello? You are so lucky to be able to go into Israel. Why are you giving that up? How can you even ask me that you don't want to live in Eretz Yisrael proper?"

But Moshe's reply begins with just one word that gets to the core of the issue. And that word is אחיכם (or האחיכם to be more precise). Moshe responds: Let's put everything aside for a minute. Forget me and my personal situation of not being able to go into Eretz Yisrael. Forget about the fact that Eretz Yisrael is kadosh. Let's focus on your brothers. What about the rest of B'nei Yisrael? They need your help to fight and conquer Eretz Yisrael. You can't just leave them like this. Plus if you don't go to war with them they are going to get really discouraged and it is going to be another Miraglim situation all over again. I've already been there and done that with the whole "Well, we don't know if we like Eretz Yisrael" stuff which then sends everyone into a panic. Not happening again.

So they agree to go to war with the rest of B'nei Yisrael, but they still don't fully get it and mention their animals, before their children, as a reason to settle on the other side of the Jordan. And what is really shocking, is that Moshe agrees. I mean, there are so many times in Judaism where someone says, "Hey, can I do this?" and the answer is "No." For some reason, Reuven and Gad are granted their request, with Moshe adding that their receiving that land is conditional on their going to war, and also with Moshe adding some of Menasheh to go with them. What a lesson to be learned from this parsha. What is the priority? Consider your brothers, your nation. Think about others first.

Have a good Shabbos!



  1. I feel like this maybe points to the fact that the reason why israel is kadosh is davka because its a place for all jews. obviously the land has some inherent kedusha, but israel is the place where jews unite and work together. so if reuven and gad want to live right next door for economic reasons, as long as they get the point of israel - to help and unite with others jews - its ok.

  2. Anonymous- interesting observation! I like that idea.

  3. There is a interesting 'vort' on this concept. The passuk says ומקנה רב היה לבני ראובן. The literal meaning would be that they had a lot of cattle. However, it can also be read ומקנה רב, they made a קנין in their Rav. In other words, the Bnai Ruevien and Gad told Moishe rabbeinu that we have a part of you. We know that you wont be crossing the Yarden and wont be going into Eretz Yisroel, we are a part of you, if you wont go, we arent going either.

  4. The Professor- that is a very interesting vort. Such a nice idea!


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