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July 12, 2007 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2007-07-12

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

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Would Your Priorities
Merit Moses' Rebuke?

Shabbat Matot/Masei:
Numbers 30:2-36:13;
Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4.

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July 12 •

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hhh — summer. A time for
they can remain in their newly con-
vacation, relaxation, reju-
quered land. "Build you cities for your
venation. A time for swim-
little ones and folds for your sheep:'
ming, sunning, tanning and reading. A he tells them, "and do that which hath
time to get away from it all and focus
proceeded out of your mouth:' (32:24)
on a tan, a frivolous book or a nice
Yet, Rashi astutely notes a subtle
glass of wine.
rebuke in Moshe's remarks.
But getting away from
While the tribes suggest
it all — from the toils
first building pens for their
of work, the daily grind,
cattle and then cities for
the traffic and commute
their children, Moshe, in his
— also gives us time for
response, reverses the order,
reflection. What am I really
telling them to first build
doing during the rest of the
cities for their children and
year? Have I spent the past
then pens for their cattle.
year of my life focusing on
Moshe criticizes them for
the priorities I hold dear in
shirking their most impor-
my heart? It's so easy to get
tant
focus — their children
Rabbi Reuven
so caught up in the process

and
making them sec-
Spo Iter
that we forget about our
ondary
to
their livelihood
Specia I to the
priorities and allow what

their
cattle.
Jewish News
we do to become who we
Moshe's rebuke applies
are — and not the other
equally to us: Which do
way around.
we do first? Do we build pens for our
After the Jewish people conquer the
cattle and then cities for our children,
lands east of the Jordan River, several
or do we realize that our work is sim-
of the tribes decide that they'd prefer
ply the means to provide for our chil-
to stay right where they are rather
dren? Do we allow ourselves during
than inherit their promised land west
the year to be so consumed with our
of the Jordan. The tribes of Reuven,
work — telling ourselves that it's "for
Gad and half of Menashe, rich with
the kids:' that we forget to carve out
cattle and sheep, see the lush green
time to spend with those very same
hills of what is now Jordan and Syria
children?
and ask to stay. Moshe is incredulous.
What about our community's pri-
Why, he asks them, after the entire
orities? Are we building "pens for our
nation fought to conquer this land
cattle" or "cities for our children"? Is
east of the Jordan, should you stay
Jewish education our foremost prior-
behind while they go on to fight for
ity, or do we instead focus on our own
their God-given homeland? That's
needs and wants?
simply unfair.
This summer, that's a question that
No problem, they answer. "We will
deserves serious consideration.
build sheepfolds here for our cattle
and cities for our little ones; but we
Reuven Spolter is rabbi of Young Israel of
ourselves will be ready armed to go
Oak Park.
before the Children of Israel until we
Conversations
have brought them unto their place."
What happened to the tribes
(32:16-17) Seems like a fair deal. They
who settled east of the Jordan?
agree to help conquer the rest of the
Do you think they made the
land before they return to their own
right decision to separate
safety and security.
themselves from the rest of the
Moshe reluctantly relents. Because
Jewish nation?
they agree to fight for the other tribes,


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