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July 19, 1985 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-07-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

, 1 28 - Friday, July 19, 1985

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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In this week's Sidrah, we read
of an intense conflict whose con-
sequences endured in the con-
sciousness of the Hebrew people.
They had just arrived at the bor-
der of Canaan. Two tribes, Gad
and Reuben, and a substantial
portion of the tribe of Menasseh
saw that the area before them,
trans-Jordan, was suitable for
their flocks and offered excellent
grazing for their cattle. Con-
sequently, these tribes came to
Moses and said, "We are not in-
terested in entering the Land of
Canaan. Do not move us across
the Jordan. We have found a suit-
able place for ourselves here."
This separate initiative could
have destroyed the gathered
strength of the people and under-
mined their resolve to inherit the
Promised Land. Moses therefore
exacted from these tribes a prom-
ise that they would join with their
brethren in fighting for the con-
quest of Canaan. Only after the
land had been won would they be
permitted to settle east of the Jor-
dan.
Centuries later, as the Sages
considered the fate of the tribes,
they noted: "These people were
affluent and powerful, and they
had great flocks. Because they
loved their cattle so dearly, they
dwelled east of the Jordan and did
not enter the Land of Promise.
Therefore, when the enemy came,
he attacked their exposed settle-
ments first and they went into
exile before the other tribes."
In their conclusions, the Sages
declared: "There are three great
gifts that we find in this world:
wisdom, power, and wealth. How-
ever, they will not abide unless
they express the will of Heaven."

The Jew never looked with dis-
dain upon the material world. He
never cursed wealth; he never de-
precated power. He certainly as-
pired to knowledge. But he recog-
nized that these gifts do not neces-
sarily yield fulfillment. Moral
purpose and ethical direction are
required in order to make these
gifts sources of blessing to those
who possess them. This insight is
of special meaning to our genera-
tion.
We live in a time when knowl-
edge has increased enormously,
when a junior high school student

Matot Masee:
Numbers
30:20-36:13.
Jeremiah2:4-28,3:4,
4:1-2.

,

knows more about the physical
universe than the science profes-
sor of 40 years ago. Wealth is
available in greater abundance
today than in any other time, for
technology has made possible the
production and distribution of
goods on a scale more vast than
earlier generations could even
imagine. The instruments of
communication, the organization
of society and the weapons of our
time have provided incalculable
power to political leaders.
How ironic that each of these
gifts has created critical prob-
lems. We have enough material
abundance to eliminate poverty,
and yet the persistence of depriva-
tion in the midst of affluence

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