As the Jewish people prepare to enter the Land of Israel, the tribes of Reuven and Gad drop a bombshell on Moshe Rabbeinu. After forty years of journeying in the desert with the final destination to go to Eretz Yisrael, they tell him that they want to stay on the east side of the River Jordan and not settle in the holy land.
“We want to build sheep pens for our livestock here and towns for our children.” (Bamidbar 32,16)
In his response, Moshe Rabbeinu makes a subtle change and conveys an important and timeless message.
“Build towns for your children and pens for your sheep.” Moshe reverses the order and gently rebukes them for prioritising their livestock and assets over their children. Moshe tells them to first build towns for their children and then worry about their wealth.
Whilst we may scoff at the blatant warped priorities displayed the tribes of Reuven and Gad, is our society different? Building a business and pushing for partnership is all too often at the expense of spending time with our families.
We are approaching the summer holidays and often have more opportunities to share quality time with our loved ones. The message of this week’s sedra is a timely reminder that we should invest in our most precious assets.
We also have more opportunity to show our children what our real values are. Try asking your children to articulate what they think your three most important life principles are. Whilst we may know what is important to us, we often forget to convey this to our children.
Wishing you all a wonderful Shabbos.
Rabbi J Golker